Jon Sanders – pondering on the trade winds as he heads for New Caledonia

Jon Sanders is nearing the end of his 10th circumnavigation of the world. In this blog he ponders on the trade winds.

The South Pacific Trade Winds – all the way across the Pacific.

First one has to get into them from Panama. Then you have them.

Maybe a lull here or there.

Some years your sails might flop along in a light wind. But it is there.

Soon after passing Tahiti, one passes through the Cook Islands. Scattered Islands.

Holding ones course your likely to see zero of them.

7 times I have passed through (stopped once at Rarotonga – with Nathan, hi Nathan) chief town or Capital.

In this region I have always found the trade winds fresh. Same again this year. Often 25/30 kts south east. Broad reach. 2 reefs mainsail and 1/3 my normal small working jib. Nice.

Progress steady and good.

In the Indian Ocean, the region of Cocos Islands (Australia) and going west, fresh trade winds similar but sea more rough.

Former refugee boats got into strife because, I suspect – not just Indian Ocean Current but effect of the south exit currents from Lombok and Sunda Straits.

Back here in the South Pacific, as the Trade Winds take me further west. Actually west south west ( in other words sneaking south all the time).

It's winter in the south. Very slowly one is sneaking into it.

6 pm it's dark and 6 am not full light of day. Overcast. Clouds seem low and fast moving. Kinda fog clouds.

Yet the wind sea and swell mild. But damp. Not tropical humid yuk damp. Just becoming winter like damp.

In about a week I will sail into Noumea, New Caledonia. French of course.

This will be my 4th visit by yacht.

From New Caledonia I will steer a course for Bundaberg Queensland Australia. The southern end of the true South East Trades. Near enough to the south to fetch the long arm of winter depressions.

From Bundaberg I will go south.

Usually transiting the Great Sandy Straits ( inside of Fraser Island the worlds biggest sand island). Making for Sydney on the long southern route to Western Australia. Dodging winter weather and Equinox gales (when I can) via coastal refuge.

Last night I woke to a strange situation.

It is years and yonks after the same thing.

If the yacht changes course, it changes motion – normally wakes me. So what woke me? I needed a pee. Sorry, but you get that.

I glanced at the B&G, as one does. Blimey I'm going in the wrong way opposite direction. (Only for about 10 nautical miles).

To begin the wind had backed from the south east (SE) & east (E) to ENE then slowly continued NE. Hmmm, I thought something up.

My weather AP does not work at sea.

Slowly continued NNE N NW to west north west.

Now I was not laying course proper. I was sailing full and bye (sheets sprung) as I do. I.E. Not properly close hauled.

(I think the dictionary says bye means good bye. Perhaps that should read by – I don't know. I'm hopeless).

New front and change coming. So 2 reefs in mainsail and reduced jib.

Much reduced sail for the amount of wind. (18/20 kts WNW). Bit bumpy going that way.

I am familiar with fronts. They can be sudden with initial squall. As Sydney Hobart Yachtsmen will verify. 25 30. 40. &. Even 60 kts.

I'm still technically in the tropics. The fronts from way south might only be 12 kts & rain, 15, 20.

Chucking ZZZZs I suppose the front came gently.

My guess W. To. SW. To. S. The wind vane self steerer kept its set to wind angle. The yacht changed course – with the wind. The ride getting smoother.

Soon sailing a course to the bottom of Chile. Oodles of 1000s of miles away.

Good sleeping course.

Just me accidentally sailing to nowhere in particular, probably to a place called Oblivion.

Awake I corrected.

Just 10 miles there and 10 miles back.

I notice Robin Morritt never puts a full stop after he closes a bracket.

Perhaps he is saving ink.

Kelly Scott from RPYC bought my Ipad a year back. It doesn't need ink. So it's probably out of date.

Kindest regards to all.

Jon

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