It has been over a week since we were in sight of land. Progress goes as well as could be hoped, although that’s a little more complicated now than it was for the first leg to Hawaii. Our destination of Nuku Hiva lies southeast of the Hawaiian islands. The trade winds in the northern latitudes come from the east or northeast. Around 10 degrees north of the equator starts a section of light, variable wind and doldrums called the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone or ITCZ. Trade winds to the south of the equator are generally lighter this time of year and generally blow from the southeast.
So what does this mean for us? For one thing, it’s a bit of a rougher passage. Easterly progress is easier in the stronger northeasterly trades than anywhere else, so we are sailing as close to the wind as possible. In order to stay out of the doldrums we even had to tack north for a bit. Once we get as far east as we can, we’ll turn due south and pass through the ITCZ as fast as possible. Besides the unpredictable winds, the area is known for squalls that sometimes blow through. The good news is that it has a current running east, which could help with any last easting we need. It will also be a good place to duck out of the way of the tropical depression that’s currently forming off the coast of Mexico and is forecast to head west.
For now we will continue bashing southeast. The wind is still pretty strong and the swell remains large. These conditions keep the boat heeled over and we slam into waves more, which slows us down. While both tacks have their disadvantages, on our current port tack the galley and head are uphill. Stayed tuned for our next post about day to day life and the trade-offs between comfort and progress.