Day 602 [May 27/10] -- Saito's Doldrum conundrum

Today's Report
May 27/10 0800 JST / 1600 local

07°51'N, 114°41'W (North Pacific Ocean) 

"So it looks like you can sleep tonight," we had proposed sympathetically to Saito-san yesterday. 

Wrong again. It was very much a quiet night and day, but to Saito-san, who can sleep with little trouble in raging gales, the reverse -- drifting the wrong way in almost completely still air -- is something that can keep him up wide awake and fretting. 

He's not racing on this voyage, but the possibility of missing even a brief puff of wind in the right direction puts him on the same alert footing he had in four single-handed global contests. Yet there was little mercy. The last 24 hours, and particularly the night part of it, passed with little relief, and by today's first call, while he had made another 27 miles north, a relentless eastward current had pushed him for a DMG (distance made good) loss of 5 nm.

"It was bad again last night," he said. "It seems to be getting better now, though."

Those additional miles to the north were crucial, however, as they have put him right at the doorstep of the East Trades -- just roughly 25 nm more, give or take, according to ClearPoint. He's also beginning to see a swapping of current directions, so if the winds die away once more at least the drift will be the way he wants to go.

He reported that he is clearly in a wind convergence zone, and has already felt the fluttering hints of subtle breezes out of the northeast. Those NE winds are the key to Saito-san's Doldrum conundrum -- Mother Nature's tiresome back-and-forth joke on wind-bereft sailors that has been known to drive some of them raving mad -- carrying a promise to open up the full power of the sails as he begins leaving a wake and points NBSDIII's nose back in the direction of Hawaii.

Soon, Saito-san, soon.

Still no luck in solving the engine problem. It was hoped by Saito-san and Saito 8 Safety Officer Mike Seymour that briefly operating the engine at low RPMs might shake loose whatever is ailing it. But less than 20 minutes set off the overheating alarm, and he had to quickly shut the engine down to avoid damage. The most likely component behind the problem -- the raw water pump that sends seawater through the motor's cooling circuit -- is hard to reach and requires a complicated dismantling of other parts and a work bench. Thus it looks like a brief stopover in Hawaii, NBSDIII's home port of registration, may be the only feasible choice.

Distance in last 24 hours: 27 nm overground, but minus 5 nm DMG
Total distance completed: 21,744 nm
To Yokohama: 6,456 nm (distance remaining: 23.1%)
To Hawaii WP: 2,547 nm
Heading: 000°
Reported boat speed: 1.5 kts
Average boat speed: 1.1 kts (north)
Average daily DMG over last 7 days: 108 nm (minus 5 nm DMG toward Hawaii WP) 
Weather: Overcast with occasional rain
Temperature: 24.0° C
Barometer: 1006 hPa (steady)
Wind (from): 4-5 kts, NNE expected to be 6 kts ENE reducing to 4 kts E over next 13 hrs, then rising to 5 kts NNE in 19 hrs
Waves: 1.0 m
Current (from): Mixed -- W at 0.6 kts changing to 0.3 kts E
Engine: 0.25 hrs 1500 rpm
Generator: 5.5 hrs
Sails: Genoa 80 or 90%, staysail 0%, mainsail 1-pt reef

Position Map