North!

We are back in one of our home hemispheres (the ‘homepshere’ ) although we still dally on the east side of the dateline. The first few days of sailing out of Funafuti were fast and often pleasant. It just got better the farther north we got and we started allowing ourselves to think thoughts of an early arrival in Majuro.

Our escort of seabirds could overhear comments from the cockpit like, “The northern hemisphere is so much calmer than the southern one,” and “That Neptune ceremony at the equator last year was good for a round trip, right?” The forecast was bright? perfect trade winds for 1,000 nm with a nice blending of wind direction between the southeast trades and the northeast trades.

Then the wind died and a long thin line of light squalls marched overhead. We maneuvered to intercept a small shower and S applied her feminine talents calling, “YooooHoooo, you big strong rain shower.” She was really chatting him up. “Why don’t you come visit your sweet little salty-cakes so we can get all sweet again?”

The squall obliged and we motored into darkening skies that the new forecast confirmed as a massive Special Khamseen Edition of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The rainstorms increased in number, size and intensity. The radar showed squalls in long lines and squalls in clusters. There were even squalls in the dreaded four-pack cloverleaf configuration, but worst was a Flying Wedge with a big one in the middle packing 35+ kts and a couple of cleanup flankers on the sides.

These things discharge apocalyptic volumes of warm rain and disturb the sea into raspy combers that snatch at the low sky and rudely slap our hull. Normally we motor through them because it’s calm between squalls and they don’t last long, but S found a big cluster on her watch and we sailed in it for 9 hours.

We’re nearing the northern edge of the convergence now and the squalls have given way to wide bands of relentless rain with no wind. We’ll soon be across this battle-line in the borderland of regionally proud northern and southern weather and we hear that the whole zone will dissipate out of boredom once we’ve gone.

03°23.95′N 173°47.03′E 11-Jun-11 18:41 UTC

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