Robin Knox-Johnston battles with heat and squalls in the doldrums 19/3/07

Log dateMonday 19 March 2007
PositionLat 03 24N Long 045 20W
Miles To Norfolk, USA2,709 nm
Distance In 24 Hours180.4 nm
Average Speed In 24 Hours7.52 knots

A good weekend all in all. For my 68th I had gifts from Saga, Lenovo and the grandchildren and I crossed the equator, so it can’t be all bad. I wasn’t particularly interested in celebrating it myself, but it seems other people were, including team members ringing to sing the whole of “Happy Birthday” in flat and sometimes sharp tones.

A mixed day of sailing. The wind has been from near north of variable strength most of the time forcing us to go relatively close hauled to make the course, which precludes reaching off. At 1508 the rhumb line distance between Pakea and ourselves was 1,654 miles, a little less than yesterday but we need better conditions if we are to seriously dent that lead. He has speeded up since then whilst we have been delayed by heavy rain squalls around us, so his lead will probably increase I’m afraid. We had 2,786 miles to the finish at that time whilst he had 1,132, and, amazingly, those figures add up!

Whilst cool on deck in the wind if out of the sun, the cabin has, once again, been unbearably hot because I could not open the forward hatch and create a slight draft. There was a really big rain cloud yesterday evening and I stripped ready for a shower. The wind died and the cloud missed us. Fortunately I had not soaped up, I’ve been caught that way before.

Well, we sat, for three hours, with the wind down to 2 knots, Saga Insurance rolling jerkily, the sails slatting, the wind-change alarm performing an unpleasant symphony, just having to wait till the system passed. They are big, some of these systems, covering many square miles, and they totally disrupt the normal gradient flow of wind. There is a danger to putting up too much sail at times like this as when the wind returns it can rise from, say 3 knots to 18 within less than a minute and we can all remember what happened to the Marquesa.