Cochise Towards Panama: The Tide Has Turned (And Other Momentous Events)


You may have caught a slight plaintive tone recently. We just don’t like losing 36 miles a day to current, even if we knew in advance it was a possibility. But the tide has turned.

At same RPM and fuel burn we have gone from 9.25-9.5 knots to 11 knots. Right where we are supposed to be with neutral current and moderate headwinds. The forecasts are for the breeze to start backing, and the current to begin to help. We are all smiling this morning.

Other happenings: Cochise has less than 2000 NM to go, and from our perspective it feels like the trip is almost over. Cochise saw the 8000th NM slip quietly beneath her keel last night. We’ve finally zeroed in on the Maretron N2K view data screens which make for the most efficient and user friendly presentation of important info to the watchstander. The two Steves will now need another project.

Now a brief word on our tactics vis a vis adverse currents, boat speed, and fuel burn. Although this 4700 NM passage is easily within Cochise’s range at normal cruising speed, we have been working her as if we were short of fuel, or it was a longer passage. We want to get there quickly, but we also want to do it with maximum efficiency and minimum fuss. During several periods of stronger headwinds we have slowed down to eight knots, to conserve our fuel for later. The fuel thus saved will buy us more miles at a faster pace than we lost going slow. With opposing current, when we feel the later stages of the voyage will be more favorable, we do just the opposite. We speed up to reduce exposure to the adverse effects. Later on, when the situation improves, we can dial back on the power and speed if needed.

As this is being written SOG (speed over ground) stands at 11.5 knots. We should probably back off the revs a touch. But aside from a slight fuel burn penalty, going fast is more fun than going slow. And fuel is inexpensive these days. At 1600 RPM, consuming between 8.7 and 9.5 US gallons per hour – total – buys us between nine and 11.75-12 knots, depending on current.

What else? The sky has been unbelievably bright and clear. The sunrises and sunsets enthrall, but no green flash…yet.

We’ve had a few hard smacks from flying fish – note the stain in starboard-most window.  And we have started to make Canal plans with our agent friend Tina McBride.

More to come…


At 0900 this morning we had 1979 NM to go. Cochise has covered 2722.7 NM since departing Uturoa, and averaged 9.48 knots against current and headwinds/headseas using .879 gallon/3.32L per nautical mile, including the fuel needed to generate electrical and hydraulic power. In calm, no current conditions we would normally expect around .625 gallon/2.36 liters per NM.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 3, 2016)

3 Responses to “Cochise Towards Panama: The Tide Has Turned (And Other Momentous Events)”

  1. Mark Schuster Says:

    On these long legs, what strategy do you use for time zone changes and watch keeping adjustments?

  2. steve dashew Says:

    Hello Mark,
    We just went through that! We just went from Tahiti time to Panama with one step in between.

  3. Shannon (Shaz) Says:

    Well, clearly one flying fish had an abrupt end to his flight. lol Fish proof windows. Well, I suppose it depends on exactly how big the fish is. Great progress, I am so jealous. Hopefully one day we will be blogging our adventures. Until then we will just watch you & keep dreaming.