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2/3/4 March08 Good progress towards St Helena

As I'm writing this, late on Mon 3rd March, "Nereida" is 'creaming' along. When she's going well, she bounces gently but silently - making no sound at all. It's usually the sign that we're sailing well - and we're making 6-6.5 kn SOG, with boatpeed of 6.5 -7 kn, in wind from SSE around 16 knots - up from the 10-14 kn of earlier today when I nearly got out the cruising 'chute with boatspeed dropping to 4-5 kn for quite a time. So much for the wind dying, although there are several more days yet when that can happen as forecast. The wind seems often to die a bit overnight and then it comes up nicely again by late morning.

The days have continued to be very pleasant - slightly rolly at times but I've hardly had to touch the sails - full main & genoa, goosewinged. There has been some cloud, with a tiny hint of rain spitting today - hardly noticeable. Mainly, it's been sunny with just a few small clouds. I saw my first flying fish in the Atlantic today - it flew quite a distance - & on checking the deck, I found three more: one about 15 cm long & the smallest about 3 cm long. Yesterday, a lovely white-tailed tropic bird came by for a short while - the only bird seen for the last two days. Lookng at the photos & video I shot the other day, I'm sure that the large birds with long wings that I saw then were albatross - but I don't know what kind. I must find out...

I've still not investigated the generator problem.... just not feeling very enthusiastic since I have this nasty feeling it won't be easy to find & since main engine is starting up fine, for topping up batteries when needed, I don't have any great sense of urgency. When it's fairly calm, I need to go up the mast to retrieve a broken lazy-jack line caught at the top spreader - it has chafed through at a metal ring, I think maybe because it was rather too tight & touching the sail. I found the rest of the lines intact but dangling in the water. Something it would be useful to see to before arriving, ready for lowering the mains'l, since the lazyjack lines stop it from flopping all over the place as it comes down towards the boom.

Another single-hander I've made radio contact with is Glen on 'Kim Chow', from Victoria B.C., who is also going westabout, but nonstop around the Horn... He's SSE of me - well down, at about 40S. He hopes to complete in July.

I've done a good amount of clearing up but have been feeling very relaxed. Lunch earlier today comprised S.African kudu biltong (dried venison!) and Australian cheese with crackers - vacuum-packed in Cairns just before I left there - lasts ages!! And breakfast started with half an enormous mango I bought in Luderitz - yummee! I had an excellent dinner the other night to celebrate my engine starting up OK ... chop with onions, potatoes & sweetcorn .... you might say food becomes important on passage!!

Communications are proving difficult - getting a connection with shore stations is often difficult, if not impossible & that is taking a lot of battery power.. Just to add to my frustration, the computer keeps hanging up, sometimes just as the radio is finally connecting with a station .... grrr!!! I presume that's because of the RF transmission, with the PC in the aft cabin being so close to the transmitter, despite loads of ferrites in use. Then, when I decide to use the Iridium satellite phone as a data modem, that frequently has too poor a signal for things to work quickly as they should ... & that must be getting very expensive... The phone being damaged at the serial port connection at its base doesn't make things any easier, either! When I'm having problems sending a Winlink position report, I'll often try to send one via Sailmail to Yotreps at www.pangolin.co.nz in the meantime. (Winlink normally copies my position reports to Yotreps anyway - so they are all there eventually.)

I'm gradually overhauling 'Rhiannon' who left before me: late morning Tuesday - our distance apart is down from 185 mls last Thursday morning to just 65 mls Tuesday morning. With arrival not expected before next Saturday 8th March, we'll probably get in at much the same time! I've got out the cruising 'chute ready - light winds seem to have arrived, & are being forecast for the next few days.

Being north of 23.5S, I'm well into the tropics, but it's been far cooler up to now than it should have been, under the influence of the cold Benguela current, although that effect has been getting far less & has now pretty well disappeared. I'm also nearly back in the Western hemisphere - we'll soon be crossing the Greenwich Meridian !! Time for a party maybe... Wed evening...??

Written by : Mike

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