When we sailed across the Pacific the first time, I did not know the South Pacific Convergence Zone existed.
Convergence zones are low pressure areas where there is massive upward convection creating severe thunderstorms, heavy rain, microbursts and localized strong winds.
On our circumnavigation, we blithely sailed through the South Pacific Convergence Zone without a problem.
We enjoyed the trade winds and occasionally motored when there was no wind.
When we arrived in Fiji and talked to our monohull friends sailing through the same area, they commented how rough the sail had been, and how they had gotten pummeled by the rolling of their boats as they sailed directly downwind.
We were in our catamaran which does not roll downwind, and we had not noted the rough conditions.
To this day, I do not know if those rough conditions were associated with the South Pacific Convergence Zone or if it was simply the trade winds at work. Since I did not know about the SPCZ, and I had no way to visualize it on satellite photos, I am not sure if we passed through it on our way across the Pacific.
The SPCZ extends from the warm waters of the Solomon Islands in a south easterly direction and can extend as far as French Polynesia.
I suspect we must have sailed through the SPCZ while it was less active so we did not appreciate that we were sailing through it.
The first time we heard about the SPCZ was when we spent six months in Fiji, and the South Pacific Convergence Zone settled over Fiji for a solid month of massive rain and daily thunderstorms. Fijians called the downpour the Bogi Walu, and it was our introduction to the SPCZ. Our time in Fiji convinced us that the SPCZ was real.
Now that I can look at satellite photos, it's easy to see the size and location of the South Pacific Convergence Zone on Infrared Satellite images.
In a sense, infrared satellite images have spoiled the western South Pacific for me.
Now I know what awaits, and I can no longer sail downwind enjoying my ignorance of what lies ahead.
That being said, the western South Pacific still is awesome.
Into every life some heavy rain must fall with thunder and lightning to make it into a real adventure.
The South Pacific Convergence Zone varies in size and location with the seasons.
It moves south in the southern summer and moves north in the southern winter.
It changes with El Nino and La Nina, and climate change affects its size and location.
As long as we don't sail in the South Pacific in southern summer when there are cyclones, and if Exit Only doesn't get struck by lightning, the South Pacific is a beautiful place to sail.
There is lots of fresh water from the sky to wash our decks clean.
The South Pacific Convergence Zone is presents similar risks as the doldrums - lightning, squalls, and downbursts.
When the SPCZ is active, for all practical purposes you are in the doldrums.
When the SPCZ is inactive, you marvel how awesome the weather is in the South Pacific.
Most important of all, the SPCZ changes on a weekly and daily basis. It gets bigger and smaller, and moves east and west, and if you are patient and willing to wait for a few days, you may avoid the worst of the SPCZ as it moves and fades away.
Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.
Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.
If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.
Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.
Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.
Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.
After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.
Although I like the feel of a paper book in my hand, I love trees even more. When people purchase an eBook, they actually save trees and save money as well. Ebooks are less expensive and have no negative impact on the environment. All of Dr. Dave's books are available at Save A Tree Bookstore. Visit the bookstore today and start putting good things into your mind. It's easy to fill your mind with positive things using eBooks. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can pull out your smart phone or tablet and start reading. You can even use electronic highlighters and make annotations in your eBooks just like paper books.