FROM 1-13. Across the Equator &1st circumnavigation

04 May 2005 - 1015hrs UTC

1015hrs 04 May 2005 UTC Map Ref 199

‘Tis a black old night out there. No moon, low clouds, occasional gaps with starry glitter. Ships. Out there somewhere, so I have to write this in short bursts. About 15 miles away -I hope – to the north east are St Peter and St. Paul rocks – a couple of slabs of rock more or less in the middle of nowhere. They are the traditional rounding point for circumnavigators who start and finish in the southern hemisphere. We will leave them to starboard going north, as long as I have put them in the right place on the studio floor, and to port on the way back. They are not on my digital chart as solid land at all – only as a couple of circular 1000m depth contours. Always a warning though, when the ocean gets that shallow.

[ed: Note from Allan F included on Alex’s suggestion: “St Peter and Paul rocks, are white and covered in bird shit, and birds no water or vegetation at all, lots of fish and squid, we went in so close to have a look with no wind, and did some fishing but a few hours latter 40knts and rain setting us to the east an amazing sight when you first see them.”]

Nice to be counting down again. about 3200 to go. Ship time…Clear horizon and cloud clearing to the north. Cool – the Big Dipper, aka the Great Bear is up by the lower spreader now – still no pole star and may not see it until the Tropic of ?Cancer.

NASA are writing a story about our contact with Leroy and ISS 10. Ain’t that something else again. Don’t anybody tell them about the studio.

Malcolm is sending us all the Gust entries – makes it so much more personal for us, so thanks for signing the book and if you haven’t, please do!

About 4 hours later – we’ve just  had a short sharp lesson in complacency. We’ve had an easy few days – even a week or so – no sail changes, warm, dry, no dramas and none on the horizon. We had a relaxed day yesterday, put up the assym kite for a bit, had another consultation, dinner and into the night. I started this update in the 9-midnight watch and handed over just as a line of cloud was beginning to shut out the stars in the west. Usually, these just have a few rain showers with gusts to about 25 kt – easy to deal with with full main and # 1 just by running down with them (turning away from the wind a bit to reduce the pressure on the sails) So Pete on watch, me deep asleep, St P & St P rocks 15 miles to starboard and upwind. The wind rises to 30+ and stays up. Pete ran the boat way downwind, but too much to handle, and I’d already been woken by the change in feel and noise so was expecting Pete to need help. We had a speedy drop of the headsail and two reefs in the main – easy, but we’d left all the kite gear in the cockpit plus lots of other clutter and the solar panel at the back instead of properly stowed and the main topping lift was stowed on the mast instead of attached to the end of the boom so it became much more of a hassle than necessary. And if we’d been to windward of the rocks, potentially very dangerous.

There was an interesting glow from their position too, underneath the very black silhouetted clouds – I’m sure there isn’t a light on them, so perhaps a squid boat or some other fishing vessel. No ships either, which might have been a lucky strike too. Lots of serious lightning around too. We’re in the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) where N. Hemisphere winds meet S hemi. winds and nothing much is locally predictable except by looking out. Now daylight, awaiting Mal’s satphone bleep signalling your emails on the way – big cumulo nimbus all around, but our bit of ocean seems reasonably clear for the mo. The go from here is to get north, north, more north at every opportunity. We are steering right up the longitudes but this will change as we get into the NE trades and have to turn west a bit to cope with them.

Have just put Falmouth into the main GPS – 3144 to go. Good feeling.

[ed: Either they’ve found a short cut to Falmouth or I’ve picked the wrong point as their final destination – I make it 3183 miles. Will check and update the Sitrep list as appropriate]

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