Lat: 2 56.117′ S
Lon: 38 46.153′ W

There’s a tradition among sailors when crossing the equator. One must strip down to his/her birthday suit and jump off the boat into the typically calm, doldrum waters, thereby joining the club of the Shellbacks. (We’re not sure why it’s termed that but guess that it has something to do with the turtle speeds at which one is usually sailing across the equator.) When we crossed the equator the first time en route to the Galapagos, it was the middle of the night, so we didn’t observe the tradition. This time we motored for an hour or two to be sure to make it before sunset. While we made our preparations, we accidentally motored across the "line", but we slowly drifted back across so that I could jump in at precisely the right moment. Dallas monitored the chart-plotter with the camera in hand and gave me the signal when it was time to jump. Then we motored back across the line so he could have his photo-op. We decided it was probably unwise to jump at the same time just in case the wind suddenly picked up and carried our boat away from us as we helplessly watched it go!


And Away We Go!DSC_0074 Lifetime member of the Shellback Club

There was a slim chance of that, though. The doldrums or ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergent Zone) have lived up to their reputation of light winds and squalls. We saw our first squall in the distance as we were engaging in our shellback induction ceremony. Later that night when I was on watch, I stepped out in the cockpit to find that we had been surrounded by dark clouds so dense that they even blocked out all the light from the super-moon. It didn’t start raining until Dallas’ watch, though, so while he was stuck going out in the downpour every 15 minutes, trying (probably in vain) to see ships in the distance, I was able to listen to the pitter patter of the rain from my cozy spot in the starboard berth.

We had been told by those who sailed through here in the last couple of weeks that they picked up the tradewinds around 2 degrees north, so instead of sailing the rhumb line to Barbados, we’ve been heading north-northwest to find the wind as soon as possible. After a couple of days of this, we arrived at 2 degrees, and sure enough, found some steady northeast winds. At just over 6 knots, we are sailing faster now than we have been able to motor-sail since leaving Brazil! I was even prompted to put out the fishing line as we are finally going fast enough to snare one, and the sun made a welcome appearance today as well.

The only drawback is that along with the winds come the seas. We have small but steep seas on the starboard beam that are making activities of daily life a little more complicated, but we’re still pretty comfortable. Saying that, both of us are really looking forward to making landfall, and we still have 1400 miles to go… The Frommers’ guide to the Caribbean with descriptions of restaurants, sights, and nightlife in Barbados is our new favorite book!