Twenty Three Degrees North


Twenty Three Degrees North: The Tropics!

April 13, 2003, 1:30 p.m.

Hello to all our family and friends: 

Lots to report today -- we just crossed the tropic of cancer, and now we're officially in "the tropics."  79 degrees in the shade, shorts weather for sure! 


Yesterday we sat around all day in the same windless condition we've had for the last three days.  We've been saying we're off the coast of Baja California, but in truth we're about 700 miles west of Cabo San Lucas.  It would be no small swim to get there!   The windlessness was kind of driving us crazy.  The sails would slat back and forth, no matter how we had them set.  From time to time there would be 2-3 knots of wind, and we'd scurry around, trying to set the sails to catch the breath of air.  Our speed might increase from -0- to .7 knot.  People (not naming names) were getting a bit testy.  We worried about damaging the sails with the constant slatting back and forth, popping full, and then dragging against the rigging as the air spilled.  We tried taking the sails down, but then the motion of the boat in the swells increased dramatically, to the point of being quite uncomfortable.  We decided then to put up the trysail (storm mainsail) to check how it works, now that the trysail track is finally fully screwed down (that was courtesy of Brian, up the mast, in Alameda).   The trysail, of course, isn't big enough to provide much buffer against all that rolling, so we took some pictures, and then took it down.   

Being "on watch" consisted of watching the boat drag itself around, usually at 0.0 knots, and taking an occasional look around the horizon to see if any big freighters were approaching.  (We haven't seen a boat of any sort since leaving US waters).  At dusk, the flat, oily-looking sea stretches out to the horizon, and melts into the sky, without any discernible line.  It's almost like being inside of a bowl. 

Finally, last night, Craig took another look at weather maps, at the fuel we have on hand, and at our psyches, and recommended that we start tapping into our supply of diesel to GET US THE HECK OUT OF HERE!  I was quick to agree -- Jim and Brian were asleep -- so we just did it.  We've been motoring ever since, and we'll keep motoring for at least another six hours or so -- or until there is some significant wind.  We carry 160 gallons of fuel, in two tanks, and we might deplete half of one tank with this splurge of motoring.  We'll have plenty left for other "emergencies," and we'll all be much saner.  With all of this motoring, we have lots of electricity, so there's plenty of hot water for showers and laundry, the watermaker can fill the tanks, AND we had the option of electrically toasted toast for breakfast.  I suppose I should get out the vacuum cleaner and the hair dryer, just to make things complete! 


This morning, about 10:00 o'clock, we finally got a fish.  We've been towing a big, brightly colored plastic squid, and we were beginning to wonder whether it was too colorful to be attractive to the local fish.  Or maybe there are just no fish here!  We see virtually no sea life, and the water is clear for 50 or 100 feet down.  No birds, no fish, no whales, no dolphins, no seals, no seaweed.  Maybe this is a desert and nobody lives here?  A couple of times there was a brief clatter of something being on the fishing line, but by the time anybody got to the pole, it was gone.  This morning was different.   

Craig reached the pole and gave it a good jerk, setting the hook well into a beautiful yellow fin tuna.  (17 pounds).  He played it for awhile, and finally got it into position so that Brian could spear it with the spear gun.  Hopefully I got some good pictures of all that. 

Cleaning the beastie was, of course, a bloody and time consuming exercise.  Not my favorite activity, so I went below.  I got into the act again when there were huge fish fillets to be stored.  One (maybe 3 lbs.) will be for dinner tonight.  The rest went into the freezer, displacing our ONLY quart of ICE CREAM.  Too bad, so sad, ice cream for dessert after lunch today!  No one was complaining too much. 

Craig has been studying the weather maps, and thinks we may be into an area of some wind by late tonight.  Hopefully that's true!

Best wishes to all -- 

Barbara & Craig Johnston

Back to the previous report     On to the next report