Yesterday afternoon, we tacked down south again, hoping to make some progress to the equator. It didn’t look good, our heading was dead south, and we need to keep moving east to make our destination. I took control from the autopilot. A ships autopilot is good at keeping a boat moving in a given direction. However, waves will confuse it and it’s not very good at maximum upwind angle.
The waves are the biggest confusion for the autopilot, so manually helming the boat, I’m usually able to beat it by 10 degrees in our current conditions. I stayed on the helm for about 2 hours desperately hoping to push her south easterly, but we were still just going straight south. I gave up and put the autopilot back in charge.
Our wind instruments seems to be misaligned, so while still heading south, I setup a new way to monitor COG (Course Over Ground) down below. One of our last screens down below stopped working (thanks Raymarine), but luckily our autopilot remote has a screen that I was able to configure to show COG so we could monitor and get our best angle as we were planning to tack back and forth through the night.
Then came the lift. A lift is when the wind changes in your favor, effectively making your boat point higher into the wind. Basically, our COG started falling from 180 down to the 170 range, and our course thus was shifting to the east, just as we wanted. We didn’t think it would last, but it would be a bad time to tack now, so we postpone our easterly tack until the wind pushed us back west again at around 190 or more. That never happened. As the evening progressed, our COG got lower and better. By midnight it was down to 150. By morning, it was down to 130.
We are now sailing straight for our preferred crossing point at the equator and if the wind direction and speed holds, we should be crossing early tomorrow morning. We have less than 1000 miles left to Rangiroa, our first stop in the South Pacific, and if we’re lucky, it will be a straight shot with no more tacking.
Aloha from Petter and Octavia