Day 156, Year 5: Passage to Chagos, Day 3
Date: Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Weather: Partly Sunny Day; Winds NNW 10 Knots
Latitude: 03 degrees 01.658 minutes S
Longitude: 072 degrees 33.703 minutes E
Miles to Go: 143

Here’s the latest news from the snail crawl to Chagos: It’s HOT, we’ve been on an upwind slog most of the last 24 hours, the seas are now coming from the south and are choppy, during the night and early morning we had one little squall after another (very little rain and just enough wind to confuse things), and now the Chagos ETA is April 3rd, not the 2nd. Otherwise, things are great! Windbird sails just fine going into the wind as long as we have 10 knots of wind. Anything under that and it becomes a challenge. Last night we were trying to sail with 6-7 knots of wind right on the nose and we finally gave up and motored the last half of the night. By 9:00 am, however, we were able to sail again, still fighting to keep Windbird on course in the now choppy seas that cause us to bounce and our sails to lose their wind. But since 3:00 this afternoon the wind switched to the NW and now to the NNW and is a whopping 10 knots. But hey, that’s better than anything we’ve have had to date, so we’ll take it. Right now we are making 4 knots good over ground, still with better than a 1 knot current against us. If these conditions persist, we still might make it on April 2, but more than likely it will now be April 3. We heard from the BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territory) administrator today confirming our April 1st arrival. I guess that is our April Fool’s joke for this year, as we certainly won’t be arriving tomorrow.

Watching the weather develop has been most interesting on this passage. We have mountainous cumulus clouds all around the horizon. During the night and early morning it looks like a layer of wind blows under the clouds and causes the bottoms to flatten. Then a grayness starts to form near that flattened bottom. Smaller, dark gray cumulus clouds then form in front of the big white ones, and as the whole mass moves from the West to the East in front of and behind us, we start to see places where rain is falling from the gray clouds. The gray clouds then seem to stretch out forming a squall line and when we get near it, the wind increases. As we pass under and out of the gray squall line, the wind then dies away for a bit and changes direction slightly. This means readjusting the sails and just when we get everything reset, it happens all over again. This repeating process stopped mid-morning, but right now there is a humongous gray cloud just to our west blocking out the light of the sun. I guess we are starting the nighttime squall game a little early this evening. In fact, it has just sucked all the wind away and we are sitting here with sails flapping in the breeze. So it’s time to start the motor and get ready in case this one is packing more wind than we experienced earlier.