THE SWEET TRADEWINDS PASSAGES 

Tradewinds. Ocean cruising would be a hobby for a few exccentrics if the Earth had not theese regular winds. It seems that they have two purposes: To take you with your sailing boat to the sunny paradise and to make this place livable so you will not die from too much sun when you are there. Of course powerfull tourist business (yachting bussiness too, sometimes) makes some of these places almost unlivable that tradewinds can not help anymore (not even hurricanes) but lucckily our world is big enough and beautifull unspoiled places still can be found.

I did not know about the tradewinds sailing for long. I started around Europe, moving to the Arctic later and after that I crossed Atlantic in the tradewinds belt to West Indies. My longest passage from Galapagos to Maquesas was the longest one I have ever made and it was probably the most pleasant. Why? Little work with sails, good sleep, warm and dry - no clothes, no changing, little motion and good progress. Even without much attention to adjust the canvas I made average 130 NM daily. Speaking about winds 4-5B, tradewinds in their better days.(When I was playing with the sails, Waterbird averaged 140NM daily, with maximum 150NM under ideal conditions.)

When the blue around becomes too monotonous one has two other dirrections to look. One is up to the stars (and in the day to the clouds which are also spectacular). It is not just about navigation (lot of fun with the sextant). It is an adventure. I spent a lot time gazing to the skies at nights, finding constelations and looking for new ones. After reaching equatorial areas I got some idea about how the skies are actualy moving and it fills me with wonder. I was looking forward to conjunctions of the planets, I was shocked by the brightness of Sirius and I never stop admiring how the sea looks in the moonlight, like a mercury actually. The nice thing about tradewinds area is that you can see the stars almost every night. In other part of the world you have either more clouds or light too many hours a day. I only regret that motions make telescope useless and even small trieder is hard to use but it opens new horizons. The other dirrection to look is down to the galley. Stars and food are the most exciting company for a solitary sailor. True, the two worlds do not have much in common. Except teapots! "Teapot" is the brightest part of the Sagittarius and I have a similar one on my stove.

I found that the most I can do to have the passage nice is to get good food. (To find good mates is more important but I am sailing alone now and even it is not the best solution, some things are more simple.) Tradewinds passage can be full of abundance! You have time to prepare good food, you want to because you do not have much to do anyway. Also: the boat is not moving too much to move yourself around easily. And last but not least: Most people keep their stomacks calm so you actually CAN eat. (This is not taken for granted in other climates. You may not be exactly seasick in the storm but several course dinner would not be appreciated anyway ). There are no storms in the tradewinds so big meals are on the menu every day. I never spent so much time preparing meals - steaks, fillets, cutlets, marinades, soups, pancakes, all kinds of baking, breads, yoghurts, curd, sprouted seeds, salads, bananas a hundred times different etc. It would be waste of time on land for me but on board it is different.

Of course tradewinds have their moods and one sometimes wonders why they call them regular winds. You can be becalmed for days or get near gale conditions as a present but this is rare. Generally you can sail for weeks without surprises. (Of course you have to get out when the hurricane season comes, not to be on the bad spot in the bad moment.) Non sailors are sometimes amazed by the distance the boat can sail here, believing that it is something exclusively for realy brave hearts and experienced salty dogs. If you think so as well, I have to share a little secret with you. Thatīs not true. As I was told by an experienced sailor: "You can take your legless grandpa with you for such passage" After some experience in these latitudes I can add: even if this grandpa has just half of his brain he can share the watches and you can have a good sleep.

Back to: Life on board