Thursday, 8 February 2018

Into the tradewinds

We are now about 600 nautical miles [1000 kilometers] to the west of the Chilean city of la Serena. This is a special place for sky watchers as it hosts a large collection of astronomical telescopes owned by universities both in Chile and in countries all over the world. The dry stable north Chilean climate combined with the exceptionally clear air blowing off the Pacific facilitate observations.

A brief dissertation on time zones: Chileans don't seem to mind dark mornings. Who gets up that early anyway? But, especially in summer, they expect their evenings to go on forever. Chile finds itself in longitude 70 to 75 west. Given the earth's rotation of fifteen degrees per hour, this would place it almost five hours west of Greenwich. The time zone, however is four hours in winter and a paltry three in summer - providing those late sunsets.

On Traversay though, the corresponding late sunrises make the last night watch - 4 to 8am - dark and seemingly endless. Our course to the north and west only makes the effect worse each day that passes. Last night, we made the first of many clock changes on this passage. An added benefit to the rationalizing of the sunrise times is that when I make these clock changes while Mary Anne sleeps from midnight to 4am, her four hours off changes into a more restful five.

Meanwhile out here, the water (and thus air) temperatures having reached 20C [68F], we have taken off and stowed our boat-shoes and socks. We are now in that brief range of latitudes where the climate approaches perfection - neither too cold nor too hot. Nonetheless, I still pull on a sweater during the night watches.

Though virtually permanent trade winds do not blow until the teens of latitude, the great preponderance of winds in the twenties where we now find ourselves DO blow from the southeast as well. With a little bending of our course towards the north, the forecasts assure us of fair winds as far into the future as they can see.

A planned visit [by air] to eastern Canada has been advanced to the point of affecting our navigational plans. We do not feel comfortable with sailing toward western Canada until winter has loosened its grip on the north thus a change in destination. We are now sailing nonstop to Hawaii with a plan to continue onward to BC in May.

Our new destination is a mere 5300 nautical miles ahead. The entire trip from Valdivia to Honolulu covers fully one quarter of the circumference of the world. The route is typically blessed with fine sailing weather and, with our usual progress, we may find ourselves there a week before the end of March.

At 2018-02-08 05:20 (utc) our position was 29°49.51'S 082°59.17'W

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