10/11March2010

Wed/Thurs: Days 2&3
Trying to head S-SSE to get around Agulhas Bank -a large, relatively shallow area south of Cape Agulhas which gets nasty in winds from S and W due to Agulhas Current running SW-W. Wind is mainly from SSE-SSW so not being helpful .... having to put in a series of long tacks and often losing speed due to current. It's always quite a balancing act when sailing a close-reach between not wanting to go too far off course and trying to keep up a decent speed.
Windsteering rudder fell off this morning (I'd clearly managed to 'secure' the pin holding it in place in a really clever way just before leaving - so it had slowly got pulled out..!) - good thing it was tied with a safety line! Tried to replace it later whilst hove-to, but there was too much swell and motion for me to manage to slide it up onto rudder post, so on autopilot (AP) for time being. Means battery power needed... not too bad while wind generator putting in lots of electrons, as it has been, but together with radio use, batteries slowly go down, so will need to top up by running genset occasionally from now on. I must have a look to see how to get AP to steer to the wind (as wind-steering does automatically) so we maximize our speed by staying in keeping with sail-trim.
Reason I was hove-to was that I'd discovered noise-making culprits causing bad interference on SSB radio while talking to South African Maritime Mobile (SAMM) Net were mainly Iridium telephone (on standby) but partly also the basic instruments - which include AP in circuit. So if instruments turned off to avoid noise on frequency when receiving on radio, AP gets switched off also & so boat is not being steered (since I'm by radio & not at the helm) - we end up hove-to!! With wind-steering, no such problem... another reason to get that rudder in place a.s.a.p.!
Another problem was how to fix the emergency shroud in place. It had started swinging wildly overnight, despite having newly been held down by a small Highfield-type lever - but that was clearly not strong enough for the job and the hook at one end simply opened up to release it - pity! - it had seemed like a good solution to an ongoing problem. I've tied it down but will need to keep an eye on it for chafe on the rope used.
Have had a pair of albatrosses & large petrels keeping company from time to time - always good to see them soaring close by. I must look them up in my new oceanbirds book!
Feeling a bit better today - yesterday I was definitely not 100%. It was pretty rough a lot of the time, and having had to concentrate on re-stowing several items that had come adrift in the forepeak with the crashing about, that had clearly upset my system. I'm not usually seasick but was not feeling at all good & took to my bunk a lot!
Forecast is for possible strong winds later, maybe overnight - up to 35knots... but for the moment, wind is around 12 knots.
Time for tea - I have some lovely rye bread to have with & I've several more loaves bought in a Cape Town German 'deli' which I'm hoping will last for quite a time (Thanks for that 'heads up', Vojan! . and to Tony for taking me there despite the heat of Sunday and missing good sailing time..).
Cheers for now from "Nereida"...., (making 5 knots SW...oh well..!)

Written by : Mike

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