April 29, 2019
Noon Position: 04 00N 32 21W
Course(t)/Speed(kts): NWxW 6+
Wind(t/tws): NExN 11
Sea(t/ft): NE 4
Sky: Puffy cumulus and haze
10ths Cloud Cover: 3
Cabin Temp(f): 86
Water Temp(f): 83
Relative Humidity(%): 73
Sail: Working jib and main, close reaching on starboard
Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 132
Miles since departure: 27,681
Avg. Miles/Day: 134
Leg North Miles: 4,731
Leg North Days: 40
Avg. Miles/Day: 118
If there was doubt yesterday, today there is none. We have at last departed the Doldrums. Proof: a steady and building wind from the northeast and a sky with nary a squall. What cloud we have is dry, cottonball cumulus. (There is also an odd, milky haze in the air.)
I changed down from the big genoa to the working jib at dawn. By 10am, I was putting a reef in the main and a tuck in the jib. Both are out now as wind is easing with sunset, but our speed is still averaging 6.5 knots.
Our next waypoint, Bermuda, to which I have drawn a rhumb line course of 310 degrees true for 2,500 miles. That distance will take the better part of 20 days, so we’ll see what has developed by then, but Bermuda announces the next transition zone. Here the Trades give way to the Horse Latitudes, a belt of high pressure and calms (compared the the doldrums, which are a belt of low pressure and calms).
How the calms look when we arrive will decide on which side we take Bermuda. The shorter route is to the east of it, but that gives the greater risk of light airs.
Decisions for later.
Battery charging is still a problem, an unanticipated problem.
In the wind here we do not see the big blankets of Sargasso weed of days ago, but it is still a constant companion in the form of long, thin ribbons running parallel to the wind. And it’s wrapping the Watt and Sea hydrogenerator propellor, which I clear at least once an hour.
We got half the juice from the generator today that I would expect in non-weed conditions.
I hear this weed is much worse in the Caribbean, and of course, just east of there is the eponymous Sargasso Sea.
So, we may be in for a difficult few weeks of battery maintenance.
I pulled some of the weed on deck for a closer examination. What I had previously called berries are, I read, the air sacks that keep the plant afloat. And nestled in this particular batch were small crabs and minute shrimps with long, clear feelers that looked like spun glass. These are two of many species that make the Sargasso a rich, complex animal environment.