Toto We’re Not In The Tropics Anymore

Miles Total: 1,066
Miles To Osaka, Japan: 561
Cabin Temp: 81 Water Temp: 75

Well we finally did get the southwesterly winds we were hoping for, giving us a nice beam reach directly towards Osaka. For a little while. Then the winds turned directly ahead of us, and died again. I think we’ve had to motor nearly every night this passage, and fuel is becoming an issue. Especially when we did the math yesterday and discovered that we’ll need to motor another 75 miles to get out of the ocean, up into Osaka harbor to check in, and back to our marina. That’s going to be exceptionally stressful, given that part of that travel will be in the dark in a very very busy shipping port. Thanks to Eric & Tony at home who are helping us via email to sort out the questions about where in Osaka to check in.

We woke up this morning and were at 24 degrees north, meaning we’ve left the tropics behind us. Yesterday afternoon and all night we were sailing in a fog, which was something we haven’t done in a very long time. The water temp has begun to drop rapidly, and we both wore light rain gear to keep warm on watch last night. We’ve even pulled out a sheet to sleep under, the first of many blankets to come.

When the wind didn’t fill in this morning I decided it was time to pull another forecast and see why the trades hadn’t filled back in. The low pressure system north of us should be far enough away to stop affecting the normal tradewind patterns. Imagine my surprise when our Buoyweather passage forecast said that in 2 days we would have 42 knots of wind! Holy crap, where did that come from? I immediately requested a bunch of grib files (graphical representations of weather forecasts that display on a map on the pc) and sure enough, we’re about to get hammered.

There’s a tight, very fast moving low pressure system coming directly at us off the Chinese mainland. The forecast convinced us that we didn’t want to slow down, though, because behind the low all the bad weather is south, and it gets better quicker further north. Continuing on, however, means we’ll be right in the middle of the system as it passes by either tomorrow or Sunday. But this also keeps us on the safe side of the storm, which is the north side (counterclockwise rotation, storm moving west to east). So this morning we’re having a busy day preparing for the worst of it. We’ve learned that when the forecast says 42 you need to be prepared for 52. But we’re lucky that we got the forecast today in time to get ready.

The list of things to do: 1- Find the sheet for the storm trysail – it had gotten separated from the sail last time we had it out to dry (done already); 2- Empty the fuel out of the jugs on deck into the main diesel tanks that are now empty from motoring every night; 3- Clean up the empty fuel jugs and stow them below; 4- Cook up some food; 5- Keep an eye on the weather and start figuring out which way it’s moving and how strong it’s getting; 6- Check the ditch kit items and get the cat carrier out; 7- Take down our new American flag; 8- Charge up the spotlight and batteries for headlamps; 9- Pull the para-anchor out from under v-berth (definitely shouldn’t need it, but if we don’t pull it out we for sure will).

This is the worst forecast we’ve had in our four years of travel, so I’m a bit nervous. Of course the boat can handle the rough weather, and so can we. When the winds hit 35 we’ll heave to and wait out the rest of it. But we’re in an area of horrible radio propagation, so we may not be able to check in to the PacSea net. I’ll email updates as soon as it’s over and we’re through the worst of it.