Namibia to St. Helena…Day 2
May 26th, written the morning of the 27th, 2013 (Eastern Hemisphere) +1 GMT
Yesterday morning, the winds went light; too light to sail. We tried in vain to use the spinnaker for a few hours, but we just weren\’t getting anywhere. If we go less than 5 knots for very long, on come the engines. The issue is a forming high pressure center to our south which is a bit too close. When you get near the center of the \”highs\”, you get no wind. So, we bagged the chute (spinnaker) and set course with the engines toward the NW. This would take us away from the shortest distance to St. Helena (toward the north), but get us away from the high pressure center.
After four hours of motoring, it worked and we were able to fly the full main and genoa poled out to port all night. It\’s 7:15 a.m. local time as I write this and we\’ve a return of fog and drizzle. The surface visibility is still a few miles and frankly, we don\’t expect to see another vessel from here to at least very near St. Helena. We of course keep watch and are not complacent.
We\’re on schedule to do about another 160 nautical mile day. This is actually what my planning was based on, but a bit slow for normal \”Miss Piggy\” style. (Miss Piggy is Beach House\’s nickname for those of you who don\’t know!).
We did our weight workout/exercise routine yesterday afternoon. It takes about an hour plus and gives us a good workout. Might as well stay in ship shape out here. We do this every other day. Doing the wash, charging the batteries, making water; the usual boat chores.
Today, of note, will be one of our three geographic milestones on this voyage across the Atlantic. They are: crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, crossing the Prime Meridian and crossing the equator back into the northern hemisphere. We\’ll just take the first one\’s explanation for this blog today.
Tropic of Capricorn:
Many people don\’t know what the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer represent or where they are?
So I\’m glad you asked, here goes.
First, these are two imaginary lines, located about 23 1/2 degrees south (Capricorn) and north (Cancer) from the equator.
What they represent astronomically is as follows. During the course of a full year, if you were to drop a \”plumb bob\” (straight down hanging line) (What do the British call a plumb bob?) from the sun to the earth, the course of travel of the sun would touch the equator twice/year and the two tropic lines once each.
So follow the bouncing ball. On roughly March 21st each year, the sun is directly over the equator and in it\’s course of travel is headed north. The course of travel (of course), isn\’t really the Sun\’s movement, but rather the earth\’s movement with our \”tilt\” as we travel around the 365 day revolution. This tilt, is the exact number of degrees (about 23 1/2) which defines the two Tropic lines.
This is why we have summer in the middle of the year in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern. On roughly June 21st (The Summer Solstice), the sun\’s plumb bob, touches the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere indicating the \”first day of summer\” in the northern hemisphere or the first day of winter in the southern hemisphere. Hence, in the Southern Hemisphere, it would be their \”Winter Solstice\”.
On roughly September 21st, the sun re-crosses the equator. This is the first day of spring in the southern hemisphere and the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere. To complete the fourth point, when the sun\’s plumb bob touches the Tropic of Capricorn here in the Southern Hemisphere, it\’s the first day of Summer in the south and the first day of winter in the north. This happens on roughly December 21st each year. In short, the \”Tropics\” are between these two imaginary lines and at some point every year, the sun\’s plumb bob is directly over all latitudes in between. It\’ also why Santa Claus wears shorts in Australia and South Africa!….:-)
Lastly, The names of the two Tropic lines comes from the two constellations they are \”in\” when the sun\’s plumb bob \”touches\” them on the 21st of June and 21st of December. The constellation of Capricorn is behind the Sun (as viewed from the earth) on roughly December 21st. and the Tropic of Cancer is behind the sun (as viewed from the earth) on roughly the 21st of June. I always remember which is which by my following make believe saying.
\”I live in the northern hemisphere and I don\’t want to get \”Cancer\” from the Sun\”. So now you have a little trick to remember which is which too.
As you\’re now an expert, there will be a test in the morning and you also now know why I\’m not going to explain the other two geographic milestones in this blog! It would take too long and I don\’t want to bore you…..YET!…:-)
The notable feature for us as a practical matter is that it should start to warm up soon after we get north of the Tropic of Capricorn. It\’s not a magic line, but where we expect a warming trend to last the rest of this crossing. We understand it\’s fairly warm at St. Helena Island…we sure hope so. Fog, drizzle and 13 deg C (59 deg F) isn\’t our idea of warm tropical cruising.
Position report will be up in an hour. I expect yet another sleepy day of about 160 nautical miles….We\’ve about 1000 miles to go!
Scott and Sailor Nikki