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Namani at Sea
The travels of Nana, Markus and Nick aboard Namani
Our daily fix
06-Mar-2012, 230nm to go to the Galapagos

After fully overcast skies yesterday (Monday 05MAR) and the night before, things cleared up this morning and we continued our slow sail at a slow jog's pace under blue skies with a few tradewind clouds (even though there aren't much tradewinds around). Beautifully relaxed sailing on a close reach from midnight last night until about 2200 tonight. Now motorsailing under a nearly full moon and starry skies. Nana went up the mast to take some pictures earlier today and Nicky had his turn up the stick as well (properly harnessed and belayed of course). Kiddy pool bath time again before dinner (this is a clean ship ;-).

We're also running a little experiment on this passage: While we use the GPS for our "real" navigation, we're keeping a separate log and position plot that relies purely on dead reckoning ("DR", i.e. combining estimated speed through the water and compass course steered with assumed current effect to extrapolate our position over time) and the occasional sextant fix. We're curious if - theoretically - we would be able to make landfall in the Galapagos without the help of GPS. We use data from the Pilot Charts (long run historical averages from other ships' observations) to estimate currents and eyeball speed through the water by looking at Namani's wake (turns out that the gurgeling sound of water flowing along the hull which can be heard in the quarter berth is also very good speed indicator). Of course the experiment is not entirely on "real terms" as all navigational decisions are still based on our accurate GPS position, which may cause us to adjust the course steered at a point where the DR data would have had us going straight. Nevertheless, it's very interesting and insightful to see how and why DR and GPS tracks diverge. We were getting a little "concerned" early today when the difference between our GPS and DR positions widened to 55nm (enough to potentially make us miss the Galapagos in our theoretical scenario). We hadn't been able to take any sextant sight for about 48 hours because of overcast skies and a hazy horizon at dusk, and the current in these waters is signicant and changeable (we've also been underestimating our speed thgrough the water). Luckily, the sky cleared later this morning and we got a good running fix between a noon sight and an afternoon shot of the sun which got us with 10nm of our GPS position again. We also were able to take moon, star and planet sights at dusk tonight (we haven't reduced them to a fix yet - we'll see tomorrow if they're any good). In any case - we may make landfall after all in our little theoretical scenario as well - stay tuned... ;-)

09 - Pacific Crossing
Getting there...
06-Mar-2012, 305nm to go to the Galapagos

At about 0630 yesterday (Mon, 05MAR) morning some steady wind out of S...SE set in at 7-12kn. We had a beautiful sail, close reaching at ~5kn over the entire day with the Hydrovane steering happily and Namani clocking away the miles. The wind died again in the evening but around midnight a light breeze has set in again, allowing us to resume our slow drift at 2.5kn. We've now dropped below 2°N and will soon break the "300nm to go" mark. We now have a steady cloud cover during the day, but with very little vertical development. Also, the clouds seem to fall apart after sunset, despite the warm surface temperatures of the water. Very different so far from the typical squally conditions during our Atlantic crossing 4 1/2 years ago. Some more dolphin company today. A nice and relaxing day overall. All is well aboard, stay tuned...

PS: Picture above shows Nicky today in "Boat School"

09 - Pacific Crossing
Pacific by kayak
Wind: none
04-Mar-2012, 421nm to go to the Galapagos

While we had light winds suffcient for slowly sailing on a close reach from midnight last night to about 1500h this afternoon, the air hasn't moved around us since then. An opportunity for Nana to inflate the kayak and paddle around Namani in the open Pacific. For the rest of us the chance for a little swim call to cool off. The water temparature is significantly warmer than it was close to Panama and there is increasingly more moisture in the air as we move SW - so things start to feel truly tropical again. No convection so far but this will likely change as we get closer to the ITCZ (which has been stubbornly stuck just a bit south of the Equator).

This slow speed drift/sail is quite different from the longer passages we had so far and certainly has its upsides. The boat is flat and we could even have dinner at the cockpit table without the risk of cuttlery, plates and glasses becoming airborne. Nicky has been keeping busy with school work and reading. He also joined us in taking some sextant sights when we were trying to brush up our celastial navigation skills. Having seen a Killer Whale leisurely swimming past Namani just before dinnner has been another little highlight of the day. All is well aboard - stay tuned...

09 - Pacific Crossing

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