May 22/10 0800 JST / 1700 local
02°59'N, 110°20'W (North Pacific Ocean)
Another day and another 180 nm as winds stayed steady and strong even as he obliquely closes in on the Doldrums barely 75 nm due north. That's two back-to-back days that saw the first- and second-best DMGs of the entire voyage.
What makes this particularly impressive is that it just wasn't suppose to be this way. The winds about now (as he climbed past the Equator) were supposed to go away. To gradually dwindle, then vanish, and become the breath-like zephyrs in the adventure stories of 18th century schooners.
So we've been anticipating that he'd haul out the "iron jib" at any time, but the engine is still on holiday, and there's a chance it may stay that way. In fact, under the present conditions, the NBSDIII's engine could not actually match the speeds produced by the sails, not to mention that the ride itself is far, far more enjoyable. The last thing a bluewater sailor wants is the seasaw motion, noise, smell, vibration, and heat of a diesel engine that's thumping along at cruising speed.
It could change, but it sure will be a pleasant surprise if Saito-san can sail right on through.
Before there were those big, nasty (and life-saving) engines on sailing vessels, being caught in the Doldrums could last anywhere from several days to several weeks as the sails flapped listlessly, the crews muttered, and the food, water and grog rations were cut. Small rowing skiffs were carried aboard for the purpose of hauling the mother ship through such conditions. The boats were as much for keeping crews busy and their minds off their growling stomachs -- and mutiny -- as for finding the elusive wind.
It's for that very reason that the Galapagos were a favorite provisioning point, as we mentioned before. Any day now, to crews of two centuries ago, those half-ton tortoises roaming the foredeck would start looking really tasty.
Saito-san reached two milestones yesterday: one, the circumnavigation is 75% finished; and two, less than 7,000 nautical miles remain to Japan. If everything continues at the current pace of the past week, he'll have completed the first three quarters of the voyage in 20 months, and the remaining quarter in just under 2 months.
He's now averaging 136 nm a day since departing the Galapagos Islands.
Distance in last 24 hours: 180 nm
Total distance completed: 21,350 nm
To Yokohama: 6,850 nm (distance remaining: 24.5%)
Reported boat speed: 7.0 kts
Average boat speed: 7.5 kts
Temperature: 24.0° C
Barometer: 1006 hPa (steady)
Wind (from): 12-18 kts, SE expected to be 16-19 kts SSE for next 19 hours
Waves: 2.0-3.0 m
Current (from): E at 1.2 - 1.6 kt (favorable)
Engine: 0 hrs
Generator: 9.0 hrs
Sails: Genoa 90%, staysail 0%, mainsail 1-pt reef