As June 1 displays on our onboard clock, the realization surfaces that we have been at sea close to a month ... and that nearly another month will pass before we again walk on the shore.
A very large group of dolphins visited us the day before yesterday, brightening our lives with their exuberance. They criss-crossed at high speed under our bows; they leapt high in the air, landing with a large splash. Then, all of a sudden, these hundreds of creatures were gone leaving the ocean as seemingly empty as before they had arrived.
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It is hot at night and even hotter in the day! The temperatures are made even less comfortable by the humidity ... typically over 60%. Our sea temperature gauge reads 31C as it has for several days. Interior temperatures in the boat reach 34C during the day while it drops as low as 30C outside at night, feeling just acceptable in the breeze. All this so challenges our freezer that it's temperature has risen from its usual -14C to -11C though it is working as hard as it can and has two foam cushions piled on its lid to keep the heat outside where it belongs. We don't even think of using hot water in the shower!
Temperatures have probably peaked though and should start a slow decline in a couple of days as we head further south away from the equator.
Thankfully, our experiment of installing a supplemental cooling fan in the air duct from the battery charger has allowed that essential system to weather the heat wave.
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The shrewd observer might be forgiven for wondering why the dead straight track-line on our map does not point at Australia. So what is our route anyway?
The original plan was to cross the equator about where we did. This point was chosen for the narrowness of the area of calms associated with the inter-tropical convergence. On reaching the southeast trade winds on the south side of the convergence, we were to turn directly toward our destination in Australia.
This year though, perhaps due to the warm ocean temperatures, the southern summer pattern of light and variable winds in the southern trade wind belt seems to have extended into the approaching winter.
It is the wind which propels our boat. Thus we are bending our route well to the south as quickly as is reasonable to reach stronger winds in the teens of latitude. At the same time, we will benefit from more bearable temperatures. Our current plan [always subject to change] is to pass south of Samoa, north of Vava'u in Tonga, south of Fiji and then north of New Caledonia.
By contrast, our previous two crossings of the South Pacific from French Polynesia to Australia took us north of Fiji in an effort to avoid influences of winter storms to the south of that island group. Those passages were blessed with fine weather and good winds ... but it seems each year's weather presents different challenges.
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As I write this log, an American fishing boat has passed within a few miles of us on his way from Samoa to his fishing grounds. The crew spend two weeks at sea fishing followed by two weeks in port. This is the first vessel to pass nearby in almost a week.
At 6/1/2016 17:11 (utc) our position was 06°07.02'S 159°50.71'W