Heading west

WARNING – John thinks this explanation is a bit technical so for a simplified log go to www.worldcruising.com Rallies tab then Logs From our start in St Lucia all our track is westbound, with a southerly component, so our heading towards the Galapagos is just a little west of south west. Unfortunately the current is conspiring to send us close to west! Let me explain. We point the yacht where we want to go, so long as the wind permits, and make best speed through the water. The water isn’t a stationary object like a road, it has currents which move at varying speeds in varying directions so it carries the boat on a different course at a different speed. The yacht’s log tells us speed through the water and the compass gives us the heading, the wonderful GPS (who remembers Decca, Loran or even Direction Range Finders) tells us the course and speed we are making over the ground. If you draw the two lines on a piece of squared paper with the aid of a protractor, assuming constant speeds and directions for one hour, and join up the two ends you can calculate the rate and direction of the current. Enough of a maths lesson; the result is that you can also draw in the course you believe you may be able to steer if you tack and see what effect the current will have then. We have done that exercise and, frankly, it isn’t promising. If we can tack through 110 degrees and maintain the same speed through the water we will move 2.5 miles southish and half a mile towards the Galapagos in an hour. If we actually tack through 120 degrees we move 2.3 miles and make 0 progress towards the Galapagos. Yesterday’s log complained about the doldrums, however the wind filled in a bit and, from 0945 Monday, we have been sailing. Our speed over the ground has been between 6.8 and 8 knots but not in the right direction. During the evening’s SSB rollcall many of the leading boats were complaining of a dying wind and turning the engine back on. That will be our salvation, hopefully. When we have to motor we can head in a direction that, taking the effect of the current into account, will take us towards the Galapagos. We have 325 miles to run at the moment (0745 Tuesday) and the forecast is for less wind today. We have plenty of fuel to motor the rest of the way if needs be. Fishing has continued unsuccessfully, John reeled the first strike over halfway to the boat before there was a great splash and the line came back minus the lure. The second bite also managed to escape before reaching the boat, though this time the fish didn’t steal the lure! Just before I went below to get the laptop to write this log I heard a big splash, a dolphin was showing off. He was jumping 6-8 feet clear of the water, wagging his tail then belly-flopping back in. He repeated this 7 or 8 times before he swam away. Dinner was spaghetti Bolognese followed by fresh fruit salad, we continue to eat well. Joyce

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