Day 597 [May 22/10] -- Another fast day as the 75% milestone is passed

Today's Report
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%)
Heading: 275
Reported boat speed: 7.0 kts
Average boat speed: 7.5 kts
Weather: Overcast
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

Position Map

Day 596 [May 21/10] -- Record DMG of 184 nm for the voyage

Today's Report
May 21/10 0800 JST / 1700 local

02°20'N, 107°26'W (North Pacific Ocean) 

Sometimes it's nice to be wrong. Yesterday we wrote that it doesn't get any better than the perfect sailing conditions he was enjoying. But it DID get better when winds climbed into the high teens during the day, giving Saito-san his best 24-hour DMG of 184 nm. Even Saito-san was impressed, declaring it "amazing!" this morning. His previous top DMG was 160 nm on March 30.

Despite reducing the genoa to half size, he saw the boat hit 9.2 kts several times during the period, and speeds in excess of 8 kts were often reached when the wind gusts were angled just right, coming in from the SSE on a beam reach. He's keeping his eye on sail and rigging wear, including the smaller damaged area in the main he was not able to mend earlier in the week. He said there has been no obvious worsening.

He advised that he will continue gradually heading up north, as he finds the effects of the Doldrums weaker and the winds stronger above the Equator than they were a few days ago. The wonderfully favorable current maintains for the next 100 nm or so above his present position, at which point ClearPoint shows it slows, then reverses to the east, at about 004° N. Once past that, he'll catch a ride on the the East Trade Winds, which should see him through to Hawaii (in 3,000 nm) and beyond. 

He's now 1,055 nm from the Galapagos, averaging 132 nm a day since he left.  

Distance in last 24 hours: 184 nm
Total distance completed: 21,117 nm
To Yokohama: 7,030 nm (distance remaining: 25.1%)
Heading: 270
Reported boat speed: 7.5 kts
Average boat speed: 7.7 kts
Weather: Clear
Temperature: 25.0° C
Barometer: 1005 hPa (slightly up)
Wind (from): 12-18 kts, ESE expected to be 12-16 kts SSE for next 19 hours
Waves: 1.0-1.5 m
Current (from): E at 1.4 - 1.8 kt (favorable)
Engine: 0 hrs
Generator: 8.0 hrs
Sails: Genoa 50%, staysail 0%, mainsail 1-pt reef

Position Map