Second week on the Pacific: Crossing the Doldrums?

Crossing the Doldrums, as all sailers know, requires lots of energy – and some luck. Luckily on board of Ya the crew makes the most of the situation. They just keep hoisting and lowering the sail according to wind and current. And all the time, they keep their eyes on the prize: crossing the Doldrums! Good food, good mood – and some superstition. Read on!

Lucky Pierrot

Sat Apr 06 2024

When Pierrot took over for the night watch, there was hardly any wind, and from the wrong direction.
At first light Peter woke up when Pierrot made a tack. The wind had increased. Peter could take over the watch with the Ya on the right course and a good speed.

In Peters morning watch, the wind slowed down as well as the direction, to unfavourable. When Pierrot came on watch, the wind increased and the wind angle changed again to the right direction. Then, Pierrot just had the fishing gear ready, we caught a fish. A Kingfish. We just at it. made by Pierrot. It was delicious.

So things become simple on board of Ya. You call the name Pierrot and luck is all around.


Sun Apr 07 2024

We are sailing pretty far from the Galapagos Islands. Reason is, if we would sail more to the west now, the currents could take us there. Or even worse, we would have to go all around them on their North side. That would take an extra 500 miles. Yes, tt is tempting to go already now to the WestSouth West, but no, first we go much more Soutth and we have to ‘swallow’ the disadvantage of the bad winds and currents, to avoid the big risk later.
So, a solid navigation and a solid mindset.

Pierrot baked his first bread in the bread baking machine. Umpfh. It did not rise. This bread is good to use for building walls, for it is really solid.

In the East to the South, and then go

Mon Apr 08 2024

There was a question from a reader: Why is our route so much to the East? Because there is the Humboldt current, running along Peru and Ecuador, setting to the North, and we want to go South.
Indeed, we just want to avoid that current. But we are reluctant to go to the west for two reasons. First because the currents. Also to the west they are going North West now. (normally at this season there are currents going West, but not now, just bad luck). So this means with no wind, you would be brought to North of Galapagos.
Second because of the winds. Where we are now, the winds tend to be South, or even a bit South West. So you can make a Starboard and Port tack to go South. But in the West, near Galapagos, the winds are South East. If you don’t make it south of the Galapagos, you will never make it. Because making a Starboard tack just East of the Galapagos, with the NW current, would set you on a North ground course – back to Panama, or Costa Rica!
So here in the East we have to make our way to the South. We want to cross the equator at about 84 degrees West (we are nearly there). Then we go, with a little bit of favourable winds, our way to the West South West and -counting on a SE blow more to the West- turning more and more to South West course. Hence we end up on the South of the Galapagos. If Neptune could help us a bit with less Northern currents there, we would be delighted.

If this story is not clear enough, then the most important is: Pierrot made a good Chili con Carne.


Tue Apr 09 2024

Today things went rather slowly. In the morning we tacked and with the little bit of wind we had we could slowly head for the direction we needed to go. well to a WSW course and we have to do SW. but we will get there, slowly.
The weather was nice. not too hot, not to cold. a little swell, a little waves. We took our time to slowly clean the deck and polish some stainless steel. The day continues gently and peaceful like this. We conceive that perhaps in the night we will pass the equator. But, hours are passing by and the wind became slower, so the Equator will be there slower.

We ate South East Asian Fried Rice. Peter and Pierrot are still discussing if it was not to spicey. But everything needs its time, we also discuss these things slowly.


Wed Apr 10 2024

There are two models to predict the currents in this area. One is called Marcator, the other is Hycom. We see that Mercator has always been right, and Hycom is almost always wrong here in this area.
It looks like Hycom is just predicting against Mercator.
However, Mercator always predicts currents against our route. Also today. For the complete area, from Ecuador to the Galapagos, all currents are against us. Very unusual.Just bad luck. So we try to avoid the strongest currents. The Humboldt current runs along the Peruvian and Ecuadorian coasts, to the North. Now, this current has widened itself three times, and is also affecting us. And how! We tested this today. We sailed 2.5 knot to the South, against that current, and our boat went… against our course. We went back!
The Humboldt current appears to be really strong.
The only thing we can do now, is take profit of the last bit of wind (also against us) and sail to the west-south west.
So if you read this, would you light a candle to turn the currents and winds with us?


Thu Apr 11 2024

PredictWind already predicted a long period of windstill weather. And indeed, last night we lowered the sails. no wind at all. The water was flat.
What to do? The strong current can push us back all the way and we have to start all over. Most probably we could slowly end up to the West or North West. It could lead to situations like coming close to prohibited islands of Galapagos, getting troubles with the Coast Guard there, and what have you.
So we switched our motors from alternators to engines and with a tiny bit of power we can just make our way perpendicular to the current. With our limited battery bank, we cannot do this for long. Just for a day or two. To prevent emergency situations, there is a small generator on board and some petrol. It can use 10 liter per day. We use only what we need.
In practice, there is nearly always a tiny bit of wind. Not enough to sail. So what we do is motorsailing: if we make a bit of speed with the engines, we create our own wind and all together this is just enough to make the sails work. A beautiful combination of wind and motorpower. If the sun shines, the solar panels deliver enough to make the engines run that bit. We call it ‘Sun sailing’. In the night we get the energy from our tiny generator.

Meanwhile, the wind picks up. We make 4.5 knots! Pierrot already switched off the engines, yesss, we sail again!

Pierrot made a great stew of beans, patatoes, eggplants, onions, tomatoes, and his touch of a mix of spices. We loved it.

The signs are good, but

Fri Apr 12 2024

Last night it became cold. humid. moisture.
It became colder. just your sheet was barely enough to keep you warm. In the morning the humidity was that high, that the smoke alarm started beeping. A thick grey layer covered the sky. Why?
We were sailing over the area where the deep cold streams of the Pacific ocean ‘bumps’ on a ridge and comes to the surface. This stream created our current against and once on top, this current is no more. Hurray! No current against anymore!
Your candles helped.

Another thing. The predictions say that till Saturday we will have little wind or no wind. But, now we have very light winds from the South East. Are these the first winds of the SE Trade winds? Or is it just a coincidence? Generally the trade winds blow at the 3th degree South. That is another 100 miles from here (and the last days we often did only 20-ish).

Are we through this doldrums? Or not yet?