Samoa to Honolulu on a yacht – sounds like it’ll be sitting under the bimini drinking pina coladas and reading the latest novel while on watch as the boat slices through unbelievably warm water pushed by consistent trade winds.
Mmmm. There’s the small matter of the “Equatorial Trough” or Doldrums as the Admiralty Mariners Handbook describes it. Within the trough are “…localities where the winds from two hemispheres converge” (AKA the ITCZ) which are marked by lines of massive cumulonimbus clouds – heavy downpours, thunderstorms and squalls. Wind and weather within the trough is very difficult to predict – a convergence zone is likely to disperse and reappear elsewhere and unlike a cold front in temperate zones there isn’t a consistent frontal direction to help you work out which way the squalls are going. As the Admiralty accurately sumarises “Thus the weather to be expected in the Doldrums is variable light or calm winds alternating with squalls and thundery showers.” And that about sums it up. A little lacking in colour, but accurate.
So here we are, we’ve played dodge the thunderstorms and squalls on the first two (sleepless, drenched) nights, we’re now enjoying (read enduring) the fair weather and “light or calm winds”. Slow but useful progress, under engine mainly (thank you “Mrs Cummins” as Olivia calls it), with sails set to catch the 3-6 knots of NE and ENE zephyrs as they waft in.
The sea temperature is 31 degrees (one of the reasons the squalls and thunderstorms are so energetic) and Kialoa is aluminium, insulated well, but nevertheless aluminium. Run Mrs Cummins for 24 hours, it gets a bit warm down below. There are still occasional rain squalls but rather than marking them by dropping sails and taking in a reef, their imminent arrival is announced by thundering feet and semi naked bodies rushing out the hatch to enjoy the cool fresh downpour. Got to time it right or you get left with suds in your eyes.
We did have a beer yesterday evening to celebrate being dry and actually sailing most of the afternoon, I’m looking forward to another to celebrate a diesel free day…