We have been watching the weather. The timing and route of the trip are based on finishing the voyage by May 1 so as to avoid any risk of encountering a typhoon while arriving as late as possible to Japan to avoid the storms and low pressure systems near Japan in early spring. We have chosen to use the trade winds route and go southwest out of San Diego, turn west around 18 degree north latitude, pass south of Hawaii and turn northwest to Japan before getting close to the North Marianas (Guam and Saipan). The advantages of this route are: more consistent winds, favorable current, less likelyhood of gales, less boat traffic and warmer weather. Our concern is a possible El Nino event that would weaken the trade winds, although at this point it seems the event, if it occurs, will be mild. If ti does occur, this would mean lighter and less predictable winds, slower current and a slower passage. A slower passage means the trip will take longer. Also, a main source of our electricity is the hydrogenerator which produces much more electricity when going faster.
The ENSO Outlook has been downgraded to El Niño WATCH. An El Niño WATCH means there is around a 50% chance of El Niño developing in the coming season. Recent observations and climate outlooks suggest the risk of El Niño development in the coming months has eased. In addition, the natural seasonal cycle of ENSO does not favour El Niño development at this time of year.However, with ocean temperatures in the central tropical Pacific remaining warmer than average, and with the majority of models indicating this warmth could persist until winter, the risk of El Niño development later in 2019 remains.Further information on the current status of ENSO can be found in the ENSO Wrap-Up