8-9th Nov07: Days 3&4 to South Africa from Reunion

Friday 9th Nov

Having had a great sail for most of Thursday, the wind died a little by nightfall, so I motor-sailed while charging the batteries for around 3 hrs but then was able to cut the engine & sail overnight at around 4 knots, which is fine ...can't afford to motor unnecessarily since still a long way to go!! Today we lost the bright sunny skies & it became overcast soon after sunrise, but I managed to sail most of the time until near dusk when speed dropped to around 2.5-3 knots - time to motorsail ...Winds
yesterday were NNE just under 15kn but today were mostly N around 10kn.

The current is having a big effect on our speed & direction - reducing our boatspeed by over a knot & making it often difficult to maintain our rhumbline course to a waypoint 160mls off the S coast of Madagascar. It's not a good idea to get much closer to the coast since the seas there can get rather nasty in strong SW winds because of big seamounts rising up abruptly from the deep seabed. The forecast is actually for W-SW winds of 13-18 knots exactly around the time I expect to reach that area
early Sunday morning... not good news! Hopefully the forecast strength is correct though - another boat ("Stenella") is expecting SW 30-40 knots tomorrow but they're much nearer to S. Africa than "Nereida". ('SW Busters' are regular features of S. African weather, coming up the east coast from the Southern Ocean and making the strong SW-flowing Agulhas current a dangerous area to be in... Fortunately, there is good weather info available to avoid being caught out - the main reason I'm making daily
radio contact with the 'weather guru' Fred on the 'Piri Piri Net'.)

I've been trying to figure out what my best tactic should be in the meantime - I clearly don't want to head any further north & will maintain my course for the time being, expecting to have to sail S for a time when the W wind heads us before tacking around eventually when the wind backs more to the S later in the day - by which time I'll be wanting to make a course almost due W anyway towards Richards Bay. Hopefully that will all work out fine - but we'll see what actually happens to the wind speed
& direction at the time - often quite different from the predictions! I raised my little staysail (inner foresail) yesterday afternoon partly for fun, partly to try to give us a bit more 'push' but partly also to make sure I had the sheets leading correctly- it's still a fairly new thing to "Nereida" and it's nice to have it ready in case of those strong winds.

Just popped out on deck to adjust sails and see what would happen without the motor - 2.5knots!! Pitch black with no moon and total overcast...

The good news from yesterday is there is no sign of any water in the starboard tank fuel - and the bad news is that my main laptop decided to die... as well as my back-up already behaving erratically... so communications became a bit of a nightmare scenario... Trying to get the 2nd laptop to do things it couldn't or didn't want to wasted a lot of time and led to a lot of frustrated effort... like trying to get AIS input with GPS input as well (not possible). Today, the main laptop decided maybe
it wasn't ready to give up the ghost just yet... or not quite so... it's clearly overheating, although I did detect slight sign of a fan working at one point. Anyway, I was galvanized into backing up my emails and other important data files onto my external hard drive. Other good news is that, for the moment, the AIS display is working - I'm watching the 'Bulk Leher' (24 mls off) slowly making its way west to the north of us. Only problem is I don't know if I can rely on the screen to keep up the
display so I can use the alarm function to enable longer sleep .....

Written by : Mike

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