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5-8th Nov07: Days 1-3 to South Africa from Reunion

Mon 5th November

Weather forecast is consistently showing light winds for several days at start of passage to Richards Bay - so I decided to get starboard fuel tank seen to in view of expected motoring. Pumped out some fuel from bottom of tank - as expected, had a fair amount of water but next lot of fuel showed very little water so I filled tank with fresh diesel and replaced gasket etc. Must keep a good eye on sight glass - but that being very clean now, it should be easy to see if there's a water problem. I'd
already replaced a spade terminal on the fridge power supply - it kept failing to start up & the wire at that terminal was getting very hot. Boat is now fairly sorted ready for passage - 7 boats on evening radio Net, 1 boat ('Megusta') almost arrived (3 knots of S-going current 450 miles off Durban!!), another one on passage and rest of us starting tomorrow or by later in week - looks as though most of us will meet up again in Richards Bay. Must try to contact Fred on 'Piri-Piri Net' tomorrow or
day or so after (9am LT on 8108).

Tues-Thurs 6-8th November

Left 8am Tuesday in warm haze with NNE wind around 10 knots, which made for gentle sailing initially but by early afternoon it had dropped to 5kn (from astern!) - so motor on... Motor-sailed on & off overnight, wind veering SE for a short while in the evening before backing to E and increasing to ~12-15 kn which meant motor could be cut, but only for a short while since wind died early Wed morning and backed into NE. With a SW course, we were doing around 2knots - so on with the motor yet again...until
the next time the wind increased enough to sail - lots of periods of motor-sailing mixed in with gentle sailing in a calm sea & in bright sunshine.

I had a busy night up & down on Thursday - lots of ships - clearly in a busy shipping lane & had to call up a couple to make sure they knew I was on their path, to avoid me. Having to run the computer to get AIS (Automatic Identification System) input there, since Nasa Marine display has been playing up - only showing ships around when first switched on - then it seems to lose them & screen goes blank. Must be faulty instrument since AIS input via VHF aerial & the Milltech 'smart splitter' is working
fine into Nobeltec charting. The good thing about the Nobeltec software, apart from its charting & positioning having been excellent in & around most islands & all major harbours, is that it shows all possible AIS info, as well as giving both audible & visual warnings of ships likely to get too close..

We're actually sailing beautifully now with a helpful current (as I write this around noon Thursday) in NNE-N 5 (~16kn). Swell is up a bit but not too bad - only the occasional 'bash'! Expecting SW swell soon but NNE at present. Spoke to Fred on the 'Piri Piri Net' again this morning - he expects 10-20kn N/NNE wind for next two days, which would be nice...he didn't indicate what was to come after...!

Switched over to port fuel tank when st'bd one got to halfway when motoring yesterday. Need to drain a little from filter sight-glass to check it's OK before using any more - don't want to take any risks...! Yesterday, I also finally organized my second preventer line - so now have one on each side, leading to a dedicated jammer & then via a block on the quarter to a winch. Should make life easier when gybing in future.

Was sitting out this morning enjoying a lovely grapefruit in the warm sun when I had to jump to the wheel to avoid a yellow marker buoy with what looked like a transmitter aerial attached - weather or fishing...?? There seemed to be a second small buoy a short distance away downwind and we were headed directly between - didn't want to take any chances!!

Distance to go to Richards Bay at noon on Thursday: 1120 n.ml. 24 hr distances run noon-to-noon (local time) Wed & Thurs: 125 n.ml. & 130 n.ml.

Written by : Mike

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