Mexico to Panama: Welcome to the Tropics

Mexico to Panama Passage Report: Welcome to the tropics!

As this is being written we are 20.5 degrees North and 107 West, well and truly in the tropics. Water temperature is approaching balmy at 78F (24C). The breeze is still behind us averaging 14 knots at 150 degrees true, enough to give us a slight push.

Having spent most of our cruising the last two years with the diesel heater in operation, we are thinking about cranking up the air conditioning – although just now the temperature is close to perfect.

This is our fourth day at sea and we are settling into the routine. Checking weather for comfort factors, sending and receiving lots of e-mails, learning to use our new video editing gear and cameras, working the galley (first batch of chocolate chip cookies are now in the freezer), and doing a few boat chores.

Offshore like this there is not a lot of traffic close by. Still, we have half a dozen ships on AIS at any one time, although we rarely see anything within 12 miles on the radar.

Tomorrow midday we will be passing Bara de Navidad and then Manzanillo. Depending on what the weather looks like for the last third of the trip, we might stop to top off the tanks with cheap diesel (a dollar per gallon less than in Panama), and maybe upload some more video for streaming on SetSail.

Both the NOGAPS and GFS weather models are showing light headwinds if we dally more than a few hours. Continuing on at a 250-mile-a-day average shows calm the last third (we have six-plus days left to Panama). Light head winds are no big deal, but sometimes light becomes more than forecast, especially if the Caribbean trade winds go back into reinforced mode. We’ll download the latest GRIB weather files using Sailmail in the morning, run it through our routing software (which will show us true wind angle and speed at each point of the trip) and then decide about stopping.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 18, 2008)

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