The Inter Tropical Convergence Zone

November 12, 2015

Apparently one of my many catch phrases has transpired to be “well, we may as well be in the English Channel”. This may partially be due to the fact that as of yesterday I had been wearing foul weather gear for 48 hours and everything I own was utterly soaked through. Just to confirm, it wasn’t at all cold but this minor detail doesn’t allay the fact that my feet could easily have been mistaken for dried fruit and there was the distinct possibility that mushrooms may well have begun emerging from my undergarments at any given moment.

This part of the world is known as the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone and it is where our global weather is born. I am quite sure based on the tales of fellow sailors that these latitudes are supposed to deliver more defined extremes yet for 2 days straight we experienced only rain and more rain. Naturally a frequent wind shift of over 30 degrees was thrown into the mix making our attempt to sail to our rhumb line considerably more entertaining.

Tuesday night also saw a maintenance issue put a dent into the off watch time for Imogen, myself and Holly and we finally reached a satisfactory temporary state of repair by 0100hrs on Wednesday. Needless to say, the fatigue seemed to perpetuate the frustration of the weather which began to test the mental stamina of all on board. I have also recently begun dreaming of pork crackling and as hard as I try, lentils and chick peas aren’t really filling the void. Never mind, I promised to retain an open mind and an open mind is what I have no matter the trials and tribulations along the way.

Last night as I sat on watch under a very dark and unpredictable sky I felt a definite change in the  air. The temperature came up slightly and there was notably less moisture in the atmosphere. My instincts told me that we were through the convergence and heading back to more settled conditions with sunshine and hopefully even some consistent wind to sail by. I was not disappointed when I awoke this morning and felt the boat quietly biting and finding her groove just off the wind under brilliant sunlight.

Finally today it feels as though we are making real progress. The crew have now experienced some of the more trying conditions of the doldrums and a pep talk at lunch time resulted in a big boat clean and a re-focus on the goals of the mission. The science is back on track and this afternoon microscopic images of plankton and other sea life were exhibited on the flat screen in the saloon as expedition leader Diana examined the contents of today’s manta trawl.
After what felt like a bleak few days, the South Easterlies have restored my optimism. This afternoon I sat on the bow stitching a patch on the stay sail. The breeze was blowing a steady 12 knots and Sea Dragon sailed beautifully under a sun drenched sky through an Atlantic sea that was the brightest blue I think I have ever seen. It is understandable how quickly we are able to forget the more trying elements of ocean sailing when we are presented so brazenly with mother nature’s inherent beauty.
– Emily Caruso, First Mate.
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