Friday morning and south of the ITCZ

Good morning – it’s pre-dawn out here on the pond, a gentle rolling low swell out of the east, Venus is up and most brightly lighting up the sky, enormous dark field of stars all around, and the Milky Way is a pale white band running behind it all. Lots and lots of shooting stars. It’s fun to lie on the athwartship bench just forward of the wheel and stare up at the sky; if you do the frog’s eyes out of focus thing it makes it really easy to spot the objects that are moving relative to the background stars. No wonder frogs can catch flies, even if frogs do not see so clearly.
We’re continuing to motor south at long endurance speeds – 1450RPM, 5 knots boat speed. The goal is to get well clear of the ITCZ, which is forecast to remain up around 5N in our area for the next two days at least. By that time we should be at the equator, and hopefully the ITCZ won’t drop back down on top of us.
An unusual event last night was motoring slowly across a wide expanse of open sky and water, and right there in the middle of it was our own private rain squall. At night it’s difficult to tell what they are up to, even with all the star light – but you can see the center column of water as it blocks out the horizon that is otherwise discernible with the star light. So I tried bearing off to the right to let them by. Twenty minutes later it was apparent that was going to work. I wonder how much wind is in that squall? I look at it on the radar, it’s 6 miles wide and would take an entire hour just to motor around if I turn east – not interested in that. So I let the boat motor right into the squall; max wind was 14 knots, a gentle rain, and the little squall moved along with us for a good hour at least. Beetle got a fresh water rinse and the air under the squall was a bit cooler than outside the squall. I like squalls like that. Not often one gets their own personal squall.
Today should be a relaxing day; no autopilot issues to deal with, do some reading, Jack and I caught up on our sleep through the night, hang some clothes on the lifelines to dry out (might even try doing some on-the-go laundry washing, as we have some pretty stinky shirts).
During radio net Shindig came up on frequency, it was fun to talk with them. They are at Nuku Hiva (as far as I could tell) and having a fine time. I’m looking forward to visiting Shindig, assuming they are still there when Beetle arrives. Also talked with Katy G, the boat that was in Paradise Village getting a bunch of work done on their windlass and generator installation. They are now out in the anchorage at La Cruz, and waiting for a weather window to head on over to the Marquesas. I haven’t been looking at weather in that area since we cleared Socorro island, hopefully they get a good window and have a great sail.
Sun is thinking about coming up, I’m going to get out the camera and go for some good sun pictures. I’d also like to get some shots of the birds out here. There are a few different ones, the boobies seem to have gone away and been replaced by a much swifter bird that flies lower to the water and which doesn’t flap its wings very often. Haven’t seen any tropic birds other than the pair we saw up in the NE trades – maybe we are too close to the equator to be the tropics? And there continue to be lots and lots of flying fish.
So enjoy the morning at your end, it looks to be the start of a nice day here: open sky patch overhead without clouds, a rainy squall at least 24 miles away – the radar couldn’t pick it up, so either it’s not raining under that cloud or the cloud is much further off than it looks – and we’re now 220 miles to the equator, 934 miles to Nuku Hiva.
Plan for the day is to continue south to at least 3N before considering bearing off and heading directly to Nuku Hiva.
current position 03 deg 40’N x 130 deg 51’W, speed 4.9 knots on 184T
– rob