December 2, 2000
23.5 degrees north, 18 degrees, 55’ west
Tropic of Cancer

Trade Winds and Tropics
By Lois Joy     

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away

Early this morning I saw two falling stars during my watch.  There’s no need to make a wish though.  I’ll just hold them in my memory. Heading out of the Strait, on the way to the Canaries, I saw three falling stars one night, and I wished, hard, for fair winds-anywhere but on the nose--and for following seas.  Now, over 400 miles south of the Canaries, I finally have my wish. The winds began gradually, two days ago, a light Force 2-3 from the ENE.  Wispy, fragile-looking fragments appeared on the southern horizon as the sun set.

“These little wimpy clouds forecast the trade winds?” I asked

“Yes,” said Gottfried, our skipper. “That is what they look like.  By tomorrow, we’ll be in the trades.”

Sure enough. Today, the dawn began imperceptibly, the steel of the rolling sea only slightly darker than the dark grey sky, the million stars of the night gradually fading until only the brightest ones shown.  In the east, a twinge of light grey appeared, and later, a twinge of pale, very pale, orange. Then feeble wisps floated in the break between the light grey and orange.

Pacific Bliss is still rolling gently with the Atlantic swells, but the sea has turned choppy now, in a nice sort of way, scattered whitecaps breaking into a grey-white foam, like the topping melting on a cup of good hot cappuccino.

We are sailing wing on wing, under a full main and Genoa, gently pushed along by a Force 5 ENE breeze. The sea air is damp blowing against my neck and cheek as I sit at the helm, watching the autopilot do its work.  But now, even though I am still wearing my pullover fleece topped by my navy fleece-lined Pacific Bliss jacket, there is a taste of warm salt against my cheek.

It is a long sunrise.  It began at 0630 Zulu time. By 0730 the entire dome surrounding our little self-contained world had turned a pale blue-grey. Still, there was no sun. By 0745, a low grey haze brims the eastern horizon, while the western horizon turns a pale fuschia. Ten minutes later, the sun peeks out, then becomes a full yellow globe as it bursts out of the sea in all its splendor. It casts a morning glow over Anne, who sits at the helm, having taken over my watch.

Ann at the helm as the sun peeks out of the horizon.

At 0900, we were in for a special treat. Anne was setting at the bow, sipping her morning tea, watching a school of dolphins swimming along with us. There were one couple on the port hull, another on the starboard, with a few more weaving back and forth in between the hulls, having a wonderful time. Gunter and I joined Anne, mesmerized for at least fifteen minutes, while they jumped and dove and swam. Then suddenly, as if on command, they all disappeared in unison, darting off into the “Big Pond.”

By 1000, the rest of our crew for this crossing-George, Maria, and Gottfried-were up and we all enjoyed a breakfast of yogurt, granola, boiled eggs, coffee and tea. 

By 1100, all are on hand in the salon, most of us grouped around the nav station and the Single-Side-Band radio, ready for the latest update on the “Vin Rouge Net.” The net is one of the highlights of our day. First, we enjoy the camaraderie that has developed with our yachting friends on Traveler, Enduring Echoes, and Taeo, all now within 300 miles of each other.  Second, we like the sense of security this net brings.  We alert each other to the weather we are experiencing, to the forecasts each has received, and to any common problems we may be having.

During the day, Pacific Bliss’s passengers slept, read, and sunned on the net. It was a relaxing day for all-the first real “lazy” day for Gunter and me. It was also the first day that I can recall in which I did not see the settee cushion removed and the toolbox out.  Hope springs eternal. Perhaps we will not have to “fix” every day after all!

In the late afternoon, we enjoyed excellent pasta with peppers and ground beef, and a lettuce salad, prepared by George our Master Chef for this voyage, and Maria, his designated sou chef for this meal.

Sometime today, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer. We cheered to wearing fewer clothes. And we cheered to bliss in the tropics. After all, one has to be warm to be in a state of bliss.   To celebrate, I dug out a bottle of pre-mixed pina colada, purchased in Spain, buried deep in the locker under the cockpit table. I cut up a fresh pineapple and put half a slice into each drink.  The coladas did not begin to measure up to the ones we had at the Bora Bora Hotel in May of 1999 or the ones in Petite St. Vincent in February of 2000. But given the fact that we are at sea, we’ll make exceptions.

Photo caption: Sunset(to come)

Maria with her pina colada

…and Lois with hers.






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