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As the boats in the Ocean Globe Race enter their 3rd week at sea they continue down the North East Trade Winds, past the Cape Verde Islands. The lead pack are all managing to continue trucking on. Pen Duick VI is moving out to the West at the moment. Maiden has taken some miles from Translated and is currently 13 miles ahead of them. The next bit of the race is going to be tricky, by about Wednesday the leaders will probably hit the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)otherwise known as the Doldrums.
This is the area, close to the Equator, where the North East Trade Winds meet the South East Trade Winds of the Southern Hemisphere, effectively cancelling each other out, giving large windless patches and Big Black Clouds (always called BBC’s on Maiden). The BBC’s might have 30 knots of wind, heavy rain and thunder and lightning under them.
The area of the Doldrums moves around making it difficult to navigate a route through the narrowest part. A great deal of patience (which I personally am not famous for!) is required to keep the boat moving through the calms. You can only steer a boat when water is moving over the rudder so it is important to maintain steerage to make the most of the next BBC when it looms over the horizon.
If you are lucky, have time, and can find a piece of soap, the BBC is a great chance for a fresh water wash , from the rain and the water collected in the reefed main. If you are unlucky, the BBC doesn’t have as much rain as you thought and you are left covered in soap. The joys of racing in the Tropics!