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Day 5 (contd) Sun 23rd Oct: Another bigger blow expected - JSD deployed 0400GMT

Posted first part of Day 5 report by mistake!

Forgot to mention... Thursday afternoon, saw three Black-footed albatross flying around nearby! What a thrill! Their distinctive albatross wing shape and length had caught my eye from a distance. I was able to watch them for quite a time - they mainly just glide using updraughts from the waves, rarely flapping their wings - looks so easy and graceful.

By 1 a.m. today, we'd made just 66ml 'as the crow flies' (DMG) in 24hrs - but our course has most definitely NOT been a straight lline!

2.35pm LT Pressure has begun to drop - now 1006 from 1008 earlier. Making good progress: SOG 5.5kt, COG SSW in SSE wind at ~17kt.

Have prepared the boat as best I can for the 'blow'... Sealed the washboard and front windscreen opening window with duct tape and Gorilla tape respectively to try to prevent water getting in. (Washboard in case we're 'pooped' and water gets into cockpit; window because it leaked when seas washed over the windscreen.) Sailing nicely now with staysail, small genoa and third reef in mains'l. Reduced sail early and genoa will be furled away when I see the wind rising more - it's been fairly constant for several hours now. Seas are getting up and sky is overast. Checked the JSD - tied off the retrieval line ready and made sure I can easily deploy the chain (weight) at the end of the line - that gets thrown out first and the rest follows. Galley is tidy and cleared and I'll have some food shortly. Coast is over 100 ml away, giving plenty of searoom.

Had to change my socks - got soaked by seas washing the deck as I fixed the removable inner forestay to the deck more securely... the only time recently I've not worn my boots, of course!

Now we just wait, keeping an eye on the wind and pressure....

5pm Rained for a short while. Wind got up as it started so furled away genoa. Rain stopped - wind died away... Grrr!! But now it has came back up again - SE 18-20 kt. Seas not too bad as yet. Pressure has dropped further - to 1002.5 in 3 hrs... Boat speed has dropped to well under 4 kt but that's OK - just staying safe and waiting...!

9.30pm LT

Enjoyed a hot ready-made meal and slept a little before start of Pacific Seafarers' Net at 0300GMT/8pm LT(PDT). SOG 2.3kt with staysail and triple-reefed main in wind of ~15kt from E - which meant, to my mind, the Low was to S of us.... Pressure: 999hPa - a drop of 4 hPa in past 3hrs - a lot! Several people came up on Net, or emailed, worried about my position. (Thank you all) Peter, ZL1PWM, confirmed deep Low was to S of us and heading directly our way, with winds of 50-60kt. The clue would be wind veering to S and it was likely to come very soon, with rapid increase of wind strength. Advised extreme caution.

I went up on deck immediately, furled in the staysail and lowered & tied down the mainsail in slight rain and darkness (of course !!). I checked the JSD retrieval line was tied on OK to a cleat, pulled out the chain and threw it overboard, off our stern, to deploy the drogue I had ready on its harness. Wind has now increased to 25-28 kt from SE and we're making 2.6kt NW - downwind. (Fortunately, that's out to open ocean - nothing in the way!) Checked all lines are secured and came down below. So now it's a waiting game... I can hear the wind howling outside as we move to the waves - a fairly gentle motion, at present. Pressure at 0445 GMT (9.45pm) is 997 hPa.

To be continued...!

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