Transition Zone, Again

May 3, 2019

Day 210

Noon Position: 11 35N  40 20W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NW 6

Wind(t/tws): NExN 9

Sea(t/ft): NE 4

Sky: Altocumulus

10ths Cloud Cover:

Bar(mb): 8

Cabin Temp(f): 84

Water Temp(f): 79

Relative Humidity(%): 65

Sail: Working jib and main, reaching, starboard.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 164

Miles since departure: 28,340

Avg. Miles/Day: 135

Leg North Miles: 5,390

Leg North Days: 44

Avg. Miles/Day: 123

I’m not sure if we’ve ever had a run so consistent as this. Our totals these last four days, 161, 168, 166, 164 miles, respectively. Our average since noon today, 7 knots; so, this could be another. Our course made good on the chart: straight as an arrow at 311 true. It’s why the sailor loves a good trade wind.

Wind is not quite so consistent as the dailies suggest; it varies from about 8 knots to 15 from the NE. But that’s plenty to get us going.

I wish I could create a photo collage of the following, but for now you’ll have to settle for words…

We’ve moved through another transition zone. Changes have been subtle and not so subtle, but the result is that, having crossed some line invisible to the untrained eye, we are now in a different world.

It’s been coming on for a couple days, noticed by a slight thinning of the heavy streamers of weed and a few different birds. But yesterday the change crescendoed with our passaged through strange, turbulent, confused water on three occasions, each lasting about half an hour. Imagine a tide race in a bay near you.

What’s different?

The water temperature has dropped below 80 degrees. Today’s reading was 79 for the second day.

The Boobies are gone. Actually they made themselves scarce as soon as strong trades kicked in. For a week there was nothing, and then yesterday, two Tropicbirds and a Long-Tailed Skua in company. A few Arctic Terns. Then today, Gadfly Petrels and a couple Storm Petrels; these are Atlantic firsts for Mo and me. In the Pacific, Gadflies are the everyday bird in middle latitudes, so seeing them creates a sense of homeyness.

Previously, we’ve seen on the water top a large jellyfish with an air bladder extending above the surface. The air bladder has the general appearance and volume of a ziplock sandwich bag; it’s clear and is rimmed in pink and purple. After the transition current, those jellies are gone and have been replace with By-the-Wind Sailors (Velella velella), scores of them. These are small, blue jellies with small disks the size of half dollar coins that stick up into the breeze. They act as sails. Thus the name.

Flying fish numbers have been increasing. Now I see fish of all sizes and not infrequently we flush a “flock” of twenty to thirty. A couple are caught by Mo’s gunnels every night. They were almost absent in the Doldrums and were scarce for a time thereafter.

And the weed is gone. Overnight, just gone.

This is a major relief as it means we can charge batteries with the hydrogenerator again. There will be more weed in our future, I am sure; but for now, it’s nice to have clean water.

Perhaps Michael Scipione, who has written about ocean currents in the comments section of the Figure 8 site, can weigh in on this recent phenomenon.=

5 Comments on “Transition Zone, Again

  1. Randall

    Good to see you racking up the miles. Is Monte getting bored back there, haven’t heard much from him lately?

    Regarding the currents…happy to oblige and welcome to North Atlantic waters. On the 3rd your course took you out of the many eddies spinning off the Guiana Equatorial Current. These were pulling warm water northwestward from the South Atlantic and also the accumulated weed bloom from the summer season. You are now in the bottom of the North Atlantic equatorial current which is drawing water from the north coast of Africa and Europe. Because it is spring it is weak and barely noticable.

    Not much will happen with the currents at this time of year until you cross the Gulf Stream and it turbulent weather. Southern edge eddies will start after Bermuda and you might want to break out the fishing line.

    Thanks for the daily reading, I always enjoy!

  2. The jellyfish with the ziplock bag sounds like a Portuguese Man-of-War. I am thoroughly enjoying my daily dose of Figure 8.

  3. Maybe this has been touched on, but since you’re trucking along at 7 knots, I imagine the bottom is still pretty clean. What paint did you end up putting on before departure in SF? Hope it’s holding up well! So happy to see you are earning some easier miles with fair winds. Cheers!

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