Day 564 [April 19/10] -- Next, the Equator

Today's Report
April 19/10 0800 JST

00°37'S, 92°48'W (South Pacific Ocean, approaching Equator)

Winds dropped and boat speed reduced to under 3 kts as the effects of the Doldrums returned. He made 95 nm for the period, under sail only for a bit over half the time.

The strong currents that were favorable yesterday turned slightly against him as he went up the west side of Isla Isabela, moving from the NE at almost a knot. Once away from the island group there should be reduced effects of the "current shadow" the islands are casting in the prevailing westward current.

He said this morning that he should cross the Equator -- one of the highpoints of every circumnavigation -- at between 093 and 094 west longitude, "depending on wind direction." Given the oblique angle of his route, the distance to the Equator is about 125 nm, give or take 20 nm. He expects to reach the crossing point during the night tomorrow.

He reported two problems this morning. During the night the autopilot abruptly stopped working and went into standby mode. He was sleeping at the time and estimates that the boat turned more sharply northward and he lost "about an hour" while the helm was unguided by man or electronics. He said he could not fathom what caused the temporary glitch, but that the auto-steering returned as soon as he reset the system.

The second problem was the breaking of his 2nd point reefing line on the main. He was able to make the necessary sail adjustments but says the reefing line is now about 5 meters too short. He attributes that to general wear & tear on the sails and running rigging due to frequent jibing and mainsail boom movement as the sail slaps back and forth under the weak winds and increased vessel rolling motion. In a sailboat, all that stops as the winds freshen and the boat picks up speed under taut sails.

Distance in last 24 hours: 95 nm
Distance completed: 20,309 nm
To Yokohama: 7,990 nm (distance remaining: 28.2%)
Heading: 290
Reported boat speed: 6.5 kts motoring (day's average: 4.0 kts)
Weather: Clear
Temperature: 28.0° C
Barometer: 1008 hPa (slowly dropping)
Wind (from): Variable at 6-10 kts ESE -- expected to rise to 10-13 kts out of SE and ESE
Waves: 1.0 m, choppy with erratic boat movement
Current (from): NE at 0.7 - 1.0 kt
Engine rpms: 10 hrs, 1800 rpm 
Generator: 5.0 hrs
Sails: Genoa 0%, staysail 100%, mainsail 1-pt reef

Position Map (click to enlarge)