S/V Nereida sails around the world

Day 40 towards Cape Horn - Finally resolve autopilot problem - all's well!!! No

Friday 30th November 2012

Another lovely sunny day with nice sailing in good SE Trades - but I spent nearly the whole morning at the chart table and computer. I'd downloaded some emails and that got me making a resume of what I'd done, found and been advised to do over the last few weeks of trying to sort out the autopilot problem that's been worryingly unresolved since leaving over a month ago.... I went back over the chain of events, trying to be clear what had happened and what I'd tried to do about it... I noticed one comment which sent me back into 'calibration' mode to carry out a major 'system reset' again - and after a bit more fiddling with calibration settings and powering off and on, we finally had a 100% working autopilot .... That definitely made my day!! It's not that Fred, the Hydrovane, hasn't been keeping us well on track for the past 11-12 days, saving lots of battery power, of course, but there are times when the use of an electronic autopilot is highly desirable ... so it's nice to know that I can now rely on it again.

I'd intended climbing the mast early this morning, but on waking up around dawn, the seas and wind had clearly got up again - so I turned over and got some more sleep!! The wind calmed down again towards evening, as I checked out and adjusted the straps of my climbing harness - I got all mentally prepared for the event .. had the tools and wind vane unit etc all ready in their bag... Checked to see I hadn't forgotten anything then went on deck to prepare for heaving to in the cool air just before sunset.

Furled in the staysail, stowed the running backstay and reduced the genoa... The 2m/6ft seas weren't exactly calm but I doubted they'd get much better.... Went to check the spinnaker halyard lead to the mast top (for the 'gri-gri' safety line) ... Came back to the cockpit - we had reduced speed to just 2-3 knots.. But I then realized I'd mistimed things - light was fading fast and to start climbing now was not looking very sensible... I unfurled the genoa completely and we picked up speed nicely. Hopefully, by getting up just before dawn, the wind and seas will still be down (fingers crossed!) and I can heave to and get the jobs done up there before the hot sun gets too high in the sky ... Watch this space...

The W-flowing current has finally disappeared and the wind has been nicely from the E- ESE all day long, so we have easily been able to make our course of SSE. According to the 'smiley' plotter, we'll be close to rounding Cape Horn on Boxing Day - but that's far too optimistic!!

24hr DMG at 3pm: 142 n.ml. Cape Horn LH 3677 n.ml.away & our nearest land is now Pitcairn Island, 1075 n.ml. to the SSW, with Fatu Hiva, in the Iles Marquises of French Polynesia, 1114 n.ml.away, WSW from us. The Gambier Islands are 1135 n.ml away to SW, and Easter Island to SSE, 1170 n.ml. We're presently about 2304 n.ml. from the closest point on the coast of Peru..

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For my daily position and track:

See my website's 'Travels' page - go to www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. should be good when in the Southern Ocean.

Day 39 towards Cape Horn - Pleasant day of good Trade Winds sailing... no weird

Thursday 29th November 2012

A lovely sunny day with good Force 4 SE Trades blowing consistently - and no squall clouds in sight!! Very few clouds at all, in fact, over most of the day - it got very hot .... The wind seems to ease overnight and strengthen again over the morning - we've been making over 6kt for most of the day. Seas are not anything like as rough as they were a few days ago, but the swell is still up to 3m/10ft when the wind picks up, with the occasional bigger one coming by. Wind direction has been good - apart from a period of SE wind that saw us making SSW, we've ended the day heading just E of S (on 170T). The W-flowing current is still present and taking us W of our heading.

In the less strong seastate, I got the chance to get a few extra 'domestic' things dealt with, including checking over mandarins, turning eggs (as usual), reorganizing some packets of long-life milk and juices, and also some apples, cleaning, changing the batteries in the GPS tracker device .... and finally I had a very nice lunch of crab with finely chopped white cabbage and mayonnaise. I'd forgotten about the cabbage - it's become rather precious now (good and crunchy!) so I kept a small bit to one side, ready for a similar treat sometime soon! Later, I cooked an omelette with fried onion and diced potato - eggs are still fine simply with daily turning, having never been chilled but got fresh from the farm....

I've prepared for my mast-climb - dug out a good, deep bag to hold the new wind transducer, tools & bits and pieces I'll need, including a couple of cable ties - black! - to replace the broken white one. Checked my harness and safety lines, as well as the working of the gri-gri on the spinnaker halyard. I might have to go up in a slight swell since I can't see the seas lying down completely- so if I'm all ready and see it's fairly calm, I can heave to and go up and get both jobs done in a fairly short time, hopefully - neither job is complicated. No guarantee that changing over the wind vane assembly will solve the problem but we live in hope!! (I'll check the pins carefully and take some fine sandpaper in case they look corroded... Signals are getting to down below, so I'm hoping the short I've found is occurring within the transducer itself and not within the mast top connector that the transducer pins plug into...

Lovely bright moon. waning now... Jupiter still bright also...

24hr DMG at 3pm: 134 n.ml. Cape Horn LH 3809 n.ml.away & our nearest land is still Fatu Hiva, in the Iles Marquises of French Polynesia, 1110 n.ml.away, just S of due W from us. Galapagos Islands: 1758 n.ml. to the ENE, the Gambier Islands 1214 n.ml away to SW, Pitcairn to SSW, 1188 n.ml, and Easter Island to SSE, 1300 n.ml. There are a lot of little specks in this ocean! Fortunately, none of them should be close enough to cause me any undue worry... (BTW, I am not intending getting close to Cape Horn this time, but staying in the deeper water to the S. The LH at the Cape, which I saw at close quarters January year ago, just makes a convenient measuring point.) We're presently about 2320 n.ml. W of the coast of Peru .

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For my daily position and track:

See my website's 'Travels' page - go to www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. should be good when in the Southern Ocean.

http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage until level with Valparaiso, Chile, probably.... Then coverage again from 1000ml WSW of Australia, onward to past New Zealand... (Batteries seem to have run out just after 17th Nov - have been replaced today, but not with the recommended type, so will be interesting to see if signals are now received or not).

Day 38 towards Cape Horn - a weird happening, as wind and seas get up...

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Wednesday 28th November 2012

Well, so much for thinking seas would lie down even more than last night, enabling me to climb the mast safely to replace the wind transducer this morning ....!

By 8am, I'd decided I had to tie the first reef back in again - we were beginnig to heel far too much and speed was well down in increased wind and seas. An hour later, I was really pleased I'd done that, when a rain cloud passed over and we were suddenly heeling even more in stronger wind.

I furled in some more genoa and then sat for a bit in the cockpit, just to make sure we were OK - my eyes caught sight of our COG - 340T .... WHAT??!!! Considering we'd been heading S a short while earlier, that was unbelievable - had the wind really swung around that much?? Being under wind steering, we would have simply followed it around, if so, although I hadn't sensed any big change of course...

I went below to look at the plotter - it showed a BIG NW current and it claimed we were being taken backwards, despite the boat still pointing167T, as it had been for some time in the now-strengthened E-ESE wind... SOG values were being shown as 10-17.3 kt!! I just couldn't believe my eyes... and watched in disbelief as the plotter showed our track dodging up and down in this amazing 'NW current' effect. I took lots of photos for the record!! If it were really happening (I had my doubts!) then how long would it continue - and how far off our course would this current take us... Should I head more SW in order to try to get out of a strong eddy?? I was perplexed - and a mite worried, to say the least! It went on for a good half-hour, but finally, near 10am, after a momentary alarm showing 'posn fix lost', things calmed down - and we were shown as back on course, making 6.1kt SOG... and all has, thus far, been fine ever since, although by midday, I had to tie in the 2nd reef - winds have definitely got up to F4-5 - and seas easily around 3m/10ft or more - it's a bit bouncy out here!

I'll see if I can send a photo or two for posting!

I checked the resistances again at the rudder reference unit connections to the course computer - all behaving as they should. (Wonder if I had range set too low yesterday when trying to measure, although meter was definitely misbehaving...)

24hr DMG at 3pm: 122 n.ml.- despite slow-going earlier, overnight. Cape Horn LH was 3908n.ml.away & our nearest land (9-10 days' sail) was Fatu Hiva, in the Iles Marquises of French Polynesia, SW 1211 n.ml.away. Mexico (near Zihuatanejo) was 1754 n.ml away to NE, with the Galapagos Islands 1684 n.ml. to the ENE. Easter Island: 1410 n.ml.and Pitcairn 1317 n.ml. - we should pass between them.

We're presently 'just over the Ecuador border into Peru' - level with Chiclayo and Mochumi and the amazing ancient 'adobe cities' nearby... Close to where Thor Heyerdahl took off on 'KonTiki' - a straw boat similar to the small ones still in use by fishermen on the coast now - to test his theory on the current (that I'm in now) and the peopling of the Pacific Islands.

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For my daily position and track:

See my website's 'Travels' page - go to www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. should be good when in the Southern Ocean.

http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage until level with Valparaiso, Chile, probably.... Then coverage again from 1000ml WSW of Australia, onward to past New Zealand...
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Day 37 towards Cape Horn - wind veered and slowly died ..... grrr!!

Tuesday 27th November 2012

A lovely, sunny start to today - but slowly the wind veered, forcing us to head SSW on a very close reach, and slowly died, so speed has been well down since late morning and first reef was finally shaken out - under full sail now, trying to keep up some semblance of speed.

The good news this evening is that the wind has backed again -to East -so we're making roughly S, alhough slowly - just over 4kt.

A bright moon is shining from a clear starry sky - gone is the light overcast of most of today. With the wind down, seas have lain down a lot - so I might go up the mast early tomorrow to see to the loose cable and change over wind transducer - if seas are calm enough then.

It was far less rough this afternoon, so I got into the aft cabin to expose the course computer and rudder reference unit and do some more testing of resistance readings with the multimeter. A bit difficult, without double-length 'gorilla-style' arms, since a good distance between the rudder ref unit and computer, but I managed eventually and all seemed fine... until I moved the wire leading into the base of the unit - after which I failed totally to get any readings whatsoever... Frustrating, to say the least...!!! Was I doing something stupid with the multimeter (which seemed to be misbehaving)... or was there now an indication of a problem with the unit's wiring...I don't know...! I might change the multimeter battery and then have another look tomorrow.

Being in the aft cabin gave me the chance to update the paper charts kept handy in the chart table, stowing now-irrelevant ones for N Pacific and getting out ones for S.Pacific, S. America and S.Atlantic. Electronic charts are all very well but often don't show the details at a glance, such as tiny islands, or depths and all-important continental shelf edges, unless you zoom right in - and then it's easy to lose track of where you're looking exactly.... I've had a fright or two on passages north this year, meeting unexpected shoal areas/fishing banks in bad weather, so have been getting out the paper charts for a good overview more often now - as I should have done previously! It's all too easy to become lazy... that's bad seamanship and unsafe....

I also dug out the replacement wind transducer I hope to place at the mast top soon. It's a simple enough replacement job, once up there. I'm hoping the wiring problem is internal to the unit so my problem will be immediately resolved once the new unit in place...Fingers crossed!

Radio connection to Winlink stations is getting difficult now - only at certain times of day are connections possible - and even then they've been getting painfully slow.. Night-time is often best for speed. I get very frustrated when I receive a short message from someone- but with my original email undeleted and maybe a long 'tail-ender' as well ... grrr!!!. Takes a long time then to download...

24hr DMG at 3pm: 144 n.ml.- made good speed up until mid-morning . Cape Horn LH was 4010n.ml.away & our nearest land (9-10 days' sail) was Hiva Oa, in the Iles Marquises of French Polynesia, SW 1211 n.ml.away. Mexico (near Acapulco) was 1617 n.ml away to NE, with the Galapagos Islands 1684 n.ml. to the ENE.
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For my daily position and track:

See my website's 'Travels' page - go to www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. should be good when in the Southern Ocean.

http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage until level with Valparaiso, Chile, probably.... Then coverage again from 1000ml WSW of Australia, onward to past New Zealand...

Day 36 towards Cape Horn - in the Southern hemisphere ... making good speed

Monday 26th November 2012 ..Across the Equator into the S. Pacific just before 4am...

I carefully took an afternoon nap so that later I could set an alarm to wake me up about half-an-hour or more before I expected us to reach the Equator. My timing worked out fine, being awakened well before we reached the 'line', but I was surprised to find the night was really dark - the bright, near-full moon of earlier in the evening, competing with many bright stars and a super-bright Jupiter in a fairly clear sky, had already set!

I took quite a few photos, wanting to catch the exact moment of our crossing - and actually managed it, for the first time ever!! But the sea was still pretty rough, and we were being tossed around quite a bit, so the thanks for a safe passage and toast to Poseidon/Neptune were fairly brief, and his tipple followed very soon after.. I'd decided that finishing up the last few drops in a bottle of Argentinian 'Scotch' from Ushuaia was an appropriate drink for a southern ocean, both to toast him with and to offer him in thanks. I was also pleased to see that the wind had backed slightly more while I'd been sleeping beforehand, so our course was now very nearly due S, although still not very fast, due to being so close-hauled.

I looked for the Southern Cross but was foiled by cloud that had appeared, so wrote up my log and posted an appropriate photo to go with this log - by which time it was dawn.... Time for more sleep.

When I got up again, it was a lovely bright day. I was able to adjust Fred, who's been caring for our steering solidly over the last week, and we came off the wind a touch. The increase in our speed was dramatic - from 4-5 knots, up to 6-7 knots - and that speed has been kept up all day long with the bonus of making a good course of 170T - perfect! We've started our sailing in the Southern Hemisphere in the best possible way...! Even the sea has got less rough, although the swell is still up at around 3 m but better spaced apart so we're still being tossed around at times - but not quite so much.

Wind has continued to be a good Force 4 - around 15-16kt from the East - and the Equatorial current is still present, W-flowing and, together, no doubt, with leeway, making our course (COG) a good twenty degrees W of our heading.

I've had a relaxed 'party' with lots of music, some singing and a little dancing - but that's not so easy on a boat pitching and heeling in the present seas!! I've had my last glass of red wine until next June, probably - someTasmanian wine that needed (!) finishing - with some kudu biltong and lots of tasty mango juice in between times - it's been a hot,sunny day! I've also enjoyed a very nice ripe brie - no lack of good food on board just now!

Radio propagation was good this afternoon with clear copy both to California (Gary, WB6UQA, in Santa Monica) and a station near Seattle. This evening's Pacific Seafarers' Net enabled me to chat to John, VK4DBJ, in Australia - they're inland from Brisbane and have been badly affected by two bad storms over this last week - and to Gary, ZL2GLM, in New Zealand and Jane, NH7TZ, on Kauai.

24hr DMG at 3pm: 130 n.ml.- making better speed now. Cape Horn LH was 4141n.ml.away & our nearest land was Hiva Oa, in the Iles Marquises of French Polynesia, 1257 n.ml.away; Mexico (between Tenacatita and Barra de Navidad) was1500 n.ml away to NE, with the Galapagos Islands, 1685 n.ml. to the E.
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For my daily position and track:

See my website's 'Travels' page - go to www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. should be good when in the Southern Ocean.

http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage until level with Valparaiso, Chile, probably.... Then coverage again from 1000ml WSW of Australia, onward to past New Zealand...

Day 35 towards Cape Horn - last day in Northern hemisphere for six months...

Sunday 25th November 2012

Found yet another two good-sized flying fish in the cockpit this morning!

The day started like so many recently - rough seas and almost total light-grey cloud cover, broken midday by some hot sun which didn't last long. But eventually, by late afternoon, the sky had almost completely cleared and we were in bright sunshine - with a near-full moon all set to shine brightly tonight.... Sea temperature today was a consistent 30.6C, ending at 30.1C by this evening - well down on the 33C of yesterday.

Wind has stayed around 15kt, gusting up and down a bit from ESE-E, with continuing 2.5-3m seas, steep at times, that we're heading into on a close reach - so still not comfortable! The Equatorial current is W-flowing and still affecting our course, but with the wind having backed slowly to East, we're closer to making our preferred S course now, with a COG of 185-190T by this evening.

Equator-crossing is looking likely to be very early on Monday, during darkness hours, not long before dawn - around 1200GMT/4a.m.PST. Will have to postpone the main party to daytime - but will thank Poseidon/Neptune with a toast and a tipple once we're safely over the line....

24hr DMG at 3pm: 108 n.ml. Golden Gate Bridge 2214 n.ml. & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2860 n.ml. away at 3pm & our position was then 1424 ml. from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 61 n.ml. due S and the Galapagos Islands, 1675 n.ml. to the E, with Hiva Oa, in the Iles Marquises of French Polynesia, our closest land at 1321ml off, to theSW. I could be there by early December if I changed course!!
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For my daily position and track:

See my website's 'Travels' page - go to www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. should be good when in the Southern Ocean.

http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage until level with Valparaiso, Chile, probably.... Then coverage again from 1000ml WSW of Australia, onward to past New Zealand...

Day 34 towards Cape Horn - rough seas, beating into SE wind, wind very slowly b

Saturday 24th November 2012

Found another two good-sized flying fish on deck this morning - might have for lunch - very bony and soft-fleshed, but tasty. Been another day of almost total light-grey cloud cover, broken midday by some bright sunshine - but that didn't last long before we were back into dull conditions. Sea temperature has been getting lower these past days - now down to 33C from the 35C of last Tuesday. Cabin temperature is 29C midday, 27C overnight.

Wind is stll around 15kt from SE so we're heeled rather, beating close-hauled into the continuing short and quite steep seas, pitching and falling into troughs.... not at all comfortable! (Not a time to think about mast-climbing!) We're still only making 4-5 knots .. and our course & speed are being affected by the strong Equatorial current, which is more NW-flowing today.... We're still only making a course of around 210T.

Checked in with the Maritime Mobile Net - propagation was again excellent to W coast of US mid-afternoon and Mike, W6WAR, 60mls from LA, was loud and clear. Pacific Seafarers Net has very few boats checking in, now - most are safely tucked up in S-hemisphere harbours for cyclone season. Listened out on 40m earlier for the Baja Net - nada!!

Getting way behind on emails - will need to have a blitz on them tomorrow!

Equator-crossing is looking likely to be very early on Monday, maybe 3-5am, during darkness ... Will have to postpone the party to daylight hours - maybe just give Poseidon/Neptune a toast and a tipple once we're over the line safely..!!

24hr DMG at 3pm: 100 n.ml. Golden Gate Bridge 2112 n.ml. & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2760 n.ml. away at 3pm & our position was then 1316 n ml. just W of S of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 166 n.ml. due S.... and the Galapagos Islands, 1655 n.ml. to the ESE.
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For my daily position and track, see:

Link is on my website's 'Travels' page - goto www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. when in the Southern Ocean

http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage until level with Valparaiso, Chile, probably.... Then from 1000ml WSW of Australia, onward to past New Zealand...

Day 33 towards Cape Horn - slow, beating into SSE wind, forced to head SSW at be

Friday 23rd November 2012

Unusually, a ship is about to cross our path ... It will pass astern, it looks to me. At 0540GMT (9.40pm): on its way from Panama, possibly... 'Volans Leader' - 656ft long, beam 105ft, draught 7.7m (mixed units!); speed 18kt (that's fast, 12-15kt is more usual); CPA (closest approach) 7ml; TCPA (time to that point) 43 min; destinatiion: Japan; ETA 14Dec; cargo vessel, under engine AIS gives so much info - it's great! These are class 'A' (commercial) vessels, whereas 'Nereida' is a class 'B' (pleasure) vessel - info they see transmitted by 'Nereida' is far less - just basic size, sailing vessel, with SOG, COG, GMDSS number and name, although I often hear they don't see the boat name - it takes a time to come up, I think.... but they do see our (uniquely identifying) GMDSS number immediately.

If their CPA is well over 2-3 ml, I don't worry - but when it's around 1 ml - I get on the VHF radio to confirm their intentions (and that they've seen us!) - and I might ask them to pass astern... My mention of 'Under sail, with no engine' usually keeps them well clear...!!

We had some more rain overnight, but not much - mostly just grey clouds, nothing too dramatic or worrying...... with none of the major wind shifts near nasty-looking rainclouds we'd had previously. By midday, the sun had come out quite well, but slowly the sky got more cloudy until it was totally overcast again.. but a mostly light layer.

It was nice to see a white-tailed tropic bird again - came by yesterday, also. Two good-sized fying fish were on deck this morning.

Noticed we'd lost a shackle holding the starb'd stays'l sheet block in place - clearly, the pin had not been wired or cable-tied, so must have worked itself loose...

Wind got up mid-morning - to about 15-16kt, possbly. We were heeled quite a bit, beating close-hauled into the rather short and steep swell that had built up.... not very comfortable. (Not a time to think about trying to do delicate autopilot wiring checks while sliding about in the aft cabin!) I furled in some genoa - we gained speed! (showing, I suppose, that boats are designed to sail best when upright...!) In general, we're likely to slow down over tomorrow... with better wind, possibly, after that. We're tending only to be making 4-5 knots at best just now- not fast... and our course and speed are not helped by the W-flowing Equatorial current we're in now.

Spent quite a time this morning, noting relevant weatherfax transmission times, frequencies and content, both for now and as I sail around...

Had an email from Robert in Simon's Town - seems my checking of voltage readings on wires down from wind transducer at mast top has shown a short between two of the wires ... most likely to be in the transducer itself, he thinks..... and if not, I would have a major problem finding and fixing the fault up the mast while at sea. So, I'll need to change it, in the hope that will do the trick - trip up the mast, for sure, it seems! (Need to fix those loose cables, anyway) I'll definitely wait for a calm sea for that!! But have checked out my 'gri-gri' and harness, in the meantime, to be prepared...

Made contact again with a couple of people on the Maritime Mobile Net and also, later, on the Pacific Seafarers Net, both on 20m.. Contact with the Baja Net on 40m has definitely finished - too far away now to hear anything but faint voices ... and lots of noise!

We're at the same latitude now as Bogota in Colombia, heading towards the Eqiuator (Quito in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are also on the Equator, not so far away). Equator-crossing party on Monday is looking more likely than Sunday, with our reduced speed and SSW-SW course.... (All are invited!!)

24hr DMG at 3pm: 106 n.ml. Golden Gate Bridge 2035 n.ml. & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2684 n.ml. away at 3pm & our position was then 1220 n ml. just W of S of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 247 n.ml. due S.... and the Galapagos Islands, 1607 n.ml. to the ESE.
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For my daily position and track, see:

Link on my website's 'Travels' page - click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. when in the Southern Ocean

http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage until level with Valparaiso, Chile, probably.... Then from 1000ml WSW of Australia onward...

Day 32 towards Cape Horn - slow going, with lots of changeable wind and rain ove

Thursday 22nd November 2012

Lots of rain overnight... so wind shifts galore, often almost no wind and occasionally lots! Strong backing of the wind near rainclouds. Slow going, with speed often right down at 2.5kt. Morning was grey and cloudy, with the sun not really peeking through until midday - and then not often, but got warm again as sun tried to get out... Slowly, the clouds have become lighter and, by sunset, blue sky was beginning to appear in the E. I felt safe in unfurling the rest of the genoa - hope I don't regret that overnight tonight!

Think I'm definitely through the ITCZ now - just 'normal' rainclouds and occasional tropical squalls from here on.... But course is set to be SW, with winds from SSE for a few days...

A beautiful, dramatic, blood-red sunset amongst the grey rainclouds in the W...

Had an email from Robert in Simon's Town, suggesting testing wires down from wind transducer at mast top. Got to the mastfoot connectors finally later this afternoon - two wires seem defiintely OK, the third - I'm waiting for his comment. Seems to me that the problem could well be not at the mast top but down at the main Wind display unit , which receives the wind speed and direction signals and sends them on to the rest of the instruments.... Maybe simply corrosion at the terminals? I'll look tomorrow in daylight, if it's fairly calm, as expected. I hope the display unit itself isn't faulty, because I don't have a spare!! In the meantime, I've seen the wind info appear twice, just for a split second, down below!!

Have nice mast steps to get me up to see to the loose cable up there - and just got out my mountaineering harness and 'gri-gri' which I slide up the spinnaker halyard, is attached to my harness by a Dyneema/Spectra loop and will hold me safely in situ should I slip off the steps.. which I WON'T!!. (Will only go up when it's REALLY calm!!!)

For my Thanksgiving dinner tonight, I had a tasty chicken tikka masala with basmati rice and lime and mango pickles to spice it up - it's a very mild curry, otherwise. Beforehand, I'd chatted for a time on the PacSeaNet and this afternoon, gave Thanksgiving greetings to George, WA6RIK, Net Contol on the Maritime Mobile Net, who often helps in the Pacific Seafarers Net also, when propagation permits. It was impossible to contact the Baja Net this morning on 40m - far too much noise on frequeny - I heard just a few very faint voices in the distance! Getting too far away now. Had a very nice, unexpected email from Mike, sysop of the new Winlink station in Tijuana which I've been making regular use of, wishing me well in my RTW attempt. .

24hr DMG at 3pm: 94 n.ml. - SLOW progress!! Golden Gate Bridge 1954n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2600n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 1115 n ml SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 338 n.ml due S.... and the Galapagos Islands, 1568 ml to the ESE.

Sea temperature is 34C - down a touch.

Day 31 towards Cape Horn - another good day's sail, with some excitement later..

Wednesday 21st November 2012 Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends, for tomorrow - enjoy the turkey!

I was gazing up into the mainly clear, starry night sky, thinking how lovely it was and also wondering if our good luck in passing through the ITCZ would continue. There was a dark mass off to staroard - well downwind... and then I saw another long line of dark grey astern - upwind, so shouldn't be a problem.. but cloud was spreading over... Sure enough, a bit later, cloud had formed ahead also - but nothing too bad. We picked up speed , heeled slightly... and then slowly things calmed down and the cloud moved off downwind, to starboard. without us getting wet even

The air is so unstable here that clouds fom in no time, often in a long line, soon becoming very black and heavy with rain, so strong winds pick up very quickly.

Late this afternoon, I'd been relaxing after another lovely, sunny day's sail, chatting for a short time to Randy, KH6RC, (in Hawaii) on the Maritime Mobile Net on 14300kHz, and also briefly to Bill, KI4MMZ (in Florida). I went up on deck, after having begun to make some tea, and saw a nasty line of black cloud a distance ahead, slightly upwind, to port.... Off to starboard, the sun was setting beautifully in a mainly clear sky... I took a video of the scene, and then headed us more off the wind, towards the sunset, thinking we might be able to avoid the heavy rain and strong wind that was almost certainly coming our way.... but soon realised that wasn't going to work... I lowered the main and took in the second reef VERY fast!... and also furled in a lot of genoa... Since heading off the wind, to the SW, wasn't working, I hardened up, heading us upwind, on seeing that the worst of the cloud was moving rapidly to the W. We were making over 6kt and I was happy to see that my ploy was working - we had a few drops of rain, but avoided anything too strong, eventually passing beneath a grey layer - the tail end of the main, dark cloud.... Had we passed below the centre of the black cloud, we could easily have found sudden winds of up to 30kt and torrential rain - best to avoid all that, if possible! Over an hour later, I finally got to my mug of tea!

We're just S of 7N, in the middle of the ITCZ axis, according to all the weather info.. The wind has already veered to SE-SSE, from ENE earlier, and is supposed to stay SSE until past the Equator, when it should become the SE Trades and stay around SE for quite a time, as we head further S. So it's not too surprising to find our course tonight has become more SW than S. We're not making very good speed just now - that only comes with clouds! But I'll leave the reef in until daybreak - so long as we keep moving, that is!

This morning, I spent quite a long time sorting out some photos, ready for posting to my website, and trying to get the Iridium connection working using Winlink - so far no joy still, although the Sailmil connection is fine. I finally managed to send some photos, whch I hear were posted earlier today. One of them shows the cable that has come adrift at the mast top - a job for when we're in calm seas - soon, hopefully! It would be nice to get the wind info back on display again.

24hr DMG at 3pm: 120 n.ml. Golden Gate Bridge 1870n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2515n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 1020 n ml SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 428 n.ml due S.... and the Galapagos Islands, 1560 ml to the ESE!

Sea temperature is still 34-35C.

Photos from Jeanne

Dawn over Angel Island & SF Bay 2Nov12
Sunrise over Angel Island and San Francisco Bay, 2 November 2012

Leaving San Francisco Bay, 5 November 2012
Leaving San Francisco Bay, 5 November 2012

ITCZ Dawn, 21 November 2012
I
TCZ Dawn, 21 November 2012

Wiring problem at mast top
Wiring problem at mast top, 21 November 2012

Day 30 towards Cape Horn - a good day's gentle sail, headed south...

Tuesday 20th November 2012

9pm We just came into moonshine dancing over the water as we sailed out from under a dark grey cloud - but all we had were a few drops of rain and some nice wind to sail by... We're making over 6kt almost due S and on deck it's beautiful - stars and moon dodging in and between the mainly small clouds... and a lovely refreshing breeze making up for the heat of the day. I've just been standing out on deck for quite a time, enjoying it all and relaxing, after unfurling the rest of the genoa in the fairly calm-looking conditions and then noticing the line of developing, dark-based cloud ahead.... Always a good idea to stay and make sure we don't get a sudden gusty strong wind as we pass beneath ... but, happily, this was almost a non-event!

With no wind display, other than the Windex at the top of the mast (giving apparent wind direction only), I'm guesstimating true wind strength and direction - this is where the Beaufort Scale comes into its own!! I got out the details earlier and wrote myself a big note to remind me. With just a very few, occasional white crests showing, that makes the wind Beaufort Force 3 (7-10kt) and when there are frequent white horses, that's Force 4 (11-16kt). By the time the wind waves are 'moderate', with many whie crests... Force 5 (17-21kt) - time to reef down, if not already done! (In practice, I'm "driving by the seat of my pants" just now - if we heel too much, time to reduce sail - simple!!)

It's been a very pleasant, easy day - plenty of cloud around, a couple of short showers, but nothing strong. I saw a grey raincloud nearby a while ago, as dusk was falling, and furled in quite a bit of genoa - it had to be let out again fairly soon after because we dropped speed to almost nothing - but when I looked back at the cloud we'd just passed under, after our speed had picked up again, it had become part of a long line of dark grey cloud - busy with heavy downpours along its entire length!

Found two more small squid, one hidden in the cockpit - from yesterday... no wonder there had been a fishy smell!

Had to get out several towels the other day, to lean on and lie down on. Humidity is so high, I need to lean my arm and wrist on a towel when writing, to prevent the logbook from becoming really wet...!I

When I came on deck to check cloud cover and swell for my 3pm (2300GMT) weather report, I stayed for quite a time, watching three boobies (red-footed?) diving into the sea for fish and then resting on the surface while they swallowed them - small ones, it seemed. Have seen boobies fairly often the last few days - distinctive immature ones among them, with brown mottling, not the clean black and white patterning of the mature birds.

Looking at latest satellite picture of clouds around the ITCZ, seems we're doing OK - no strong convection where we are, nor where we're headed, although some off to the west... which is the direction it all moves in, so not a problem. Still quite likely to get the occasional squall, though. The line of the ITCZ, according to today's weather reports, is around 8N hereabouts. We're at 8deg 30'N just now, so clearly in the ITCZ region.

We got into a W-flowing current today, as compared with the NE-E-flowing current of yesterday, and the strong N-flowing current of previous days.

24hr DMG at 3pm: 116 n.ml. (we've not been setting any speed records while trying to aim for a less-active section of the ITCZ!);Golden Gate Bridge 1750n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2400n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 907 n ml SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 550 n.ml due S.... and the Galapagos Islands, 1590 ml to the SE!

Day 29 towards Cape Horn - cloud to the E, cloud to the S - doubt if we can avoi

Monday 19th November 2012

Now I know why the wind, puzzlingly, seemed to be coming from the SSE-SE overnight - it wasn't, except while the squall lasted, when the wind clearly was all over the place!!

I was looking up at the Windex early this morning, seeing it showing us to be clearly on a beam reach, while the wind display was showing us to be close-hauled... I noticed something moving about ... dangling from the mast top... Got out binoculars - still couldn't see clearly with the movement of the boat... Got the camera and took some close-up photos to look at on the computer in more detail... looks as though the wire loom at the mast top where it enters into the mast, for instruments and lights, has come adrift - looks as though possibly a cable tie holding the wires in place, has broken... There is NO wind display now - as I was nvestigating, I saw it had gone down completely. The transducer looks, from down here, to be fine - it's possibly a simple wiring problem - but up there, not so simple to fix!! Seems my trip up the mast, in calmer seas, is unavoidable...

Two small squid found on deck earlier - too small for calamari - pity! Flying fish are staying well away. For lunch, I had a VERY ripe brie - as yesterday, in fact. I've another waiting to be finished soon. I had it with the last few slices of a loaf of Dempster's Whole Grain bread that I've been enjoying - I'm amazed it's lasted this long out of a fridge! Tonight I had an onion omelette.

Seeing small groups of boobies fairly often over the day.

Pleasant on deck with the breeze and in the shade of the sails, but hot and sticky down below... Cabin 31C, sea 34.5C - getting close to blood temp(37C)!

Looking at latest satellite picture of clouds in the ITCZ, seems we're surrounded - they are everywhere except NW of us & we're in a clear area for the time being...! We clearly went through a mass of cloud when the wind piped up last night around midnight. Won't head S until I'm sure that's the best way to go...

Midnight- Well, we're heading S now! Waited to download the lates satpic, which showed an area of less activity just to S-ESE, with more cloud coming along from further E, soon after - so changed course and then unfurled a little more genoa to give us a touch more speed - just as it started to rain ... Not much, I thought - but, of course, it got heavy and the wind got up, its direction varying a lot... We were headed W on a beam reach for a short time - so clearly the wind was then from SE..

Shortly afer, the sky cleared a bit and things calmed down - we're now making due S at around 5kt - that's fine until daylight...... It'll take over a day to pass through the region of the ITCZ- presently, its axis is around 8N near here.

24hr DMG at 3pm: 107 n.ml. (after the squall at midnight last night, reduced sail a lot - just in case!);Golden Gate Bridge 1636n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2280n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 820 n ml SW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 661ml due S.... and the Galapagos Islands, 1657 ml to the SE!

Day 28 towards Cape Horn - hot and sticky ... as we try to dodge the convection

its Sunday18th November 2012

Looked for Southern Cross overnight but too much cloud around to see it.

10am: Adjusting course more to east - big area of ITCZ convection boiling up on our path - so making use of a strong N-flowing current (has been cutting our speed down by 2 kt overnight!) to help head 140T or less in E wind, in hope that will get us east of the clump of clouds, as they move on to the west... Going slowly just now is not such a bad thing! Likely to get the occasional squall anyway ...

Had another visit from the dark booby this morning - but soon flew off.

Midday: Very pleasant on deck just now, in a nice breeze and in the shade of the sails - too hot in the sun to be out for long, earlier!

Still downloading first batch of weatherfaxes - there are quite a few, so I just let them run and check them over for the ones I need later.

Wind is E 10-11kt, boatspeed is over 5kt, SOG is under 4 kt - but that's OK, since I don't want to rush S for the time being - just want to make my course.

Some big clouds around now - but none upwind and, as yet, they're not dark grey, rainy and squally-looking - maybe by later in the day, they will have built up more... With clouds around, likely to find wind gusting up and down a lot.... so staying reefed down - but still making a fair speed.

6pm Sun disappeared a while back - still a few big clouds around - but no dark grey. threatening ones... All in all, a very pleasant day's sailing - still with the strong N-flowing current helping us to make more Easting than we would otherwise!

Midnight!! Just had our first squall - at least, that's how it seemed - wind suddenly veered by 30degrees to SE and increased just as quickly to around 20kt from its previous consistent 12-13kt - but couldn't see any dark cloud around, upwind or down,... just plenty of hazy stars with a few non-starry patches... and wind has stayed at SE 20kt since then - so maybe it's just a sudden wind change that's here to stay... not caused by a big cloud at all? No rain, certainly. Difficult to be sure in the darkness.. But our course is now SSE, not SE. The wind was not forecast to change to SE from E-ENE until we were S of the ITCZ - below 8N - and we're presently still at 12N... Maybe it will back again soon...

24hr DMG at 3pm: 119 n.ml. (slowed overnight and all morning by strong N-flowing current - cut our speed by easily 1.5kt);Golden Gate Bridge 1540n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2188n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 782 n ml SW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 747ml due S.... and the Galapagos Islands, 1750 ml to the SE!

Day 27 towards Cape Horn - hot, hot... as we near the ITCZ and Equator

Saturday17th November 2012

I've had several queries about 'no motor'.. I'm attempting a 'nonstop, unassisted, solo' circumnavigation, which means no help of any kind... & all to be done under sail alone and no setting foot on shore until my finish. So my engine forward gear has been wired and sealed for the duration, although in an emergency (like early last year when badly damaged due to my knockdown off C.Horn), I can break the seal and use my engine for motive power - but that immediately ends my 'unassisted' RTW attempt!

Overnight kept up good speed, around 6.5+ kt, with wind having strengthened to NE-ENE ~15kt - so good course maintained ... and on into the morning. Increased this afternoon to 16-18kt, but back to 15kt this evening. On AP overnight - kept course fine (but still no rudder bar in Standby) and then, after reducing genoa to lessen heeling, onto Fred (Hydrovane wind steering) mid-morning, with wheel fixed over to leeward. Fred maintained course fine -so that's good... I just wish the rudder reference unit problem with the AP sytem could be resolved - latest suggestion was to drop me off a new one - not possible!!

I left a small windward portlight above the galley open overnight - big mistake! No problem with lighter conditions over the day & it was nice to get the airflow down below in the humid heat, but during the night, when wind and seas got up more, one sea washed the decks so vigorously that some water came in through the port - curses!... I'd not long thought it might be prudent to close it - but hadn't... Fortunately, being where it was, no major damage & easily dried.

Not many flying fish seen so far.... One tiny one caught in the deck drain overnight, but none seen flying since the shoal of tiddlers a day back.

Hot, hot, hot..& everything metal or plastic on deck covered in a film of sticky salt....! Sea is 33-34C, cabin 29-30C. We're still tryig to head for a gap in the ITCZ's active regions.... Fingers crossed!

Routine tends to be: quick check in daylight on deck, breakfast before or after checking into Baja Net at 8am (copy getting difficult now, except to stations in the Baja itself), turn box of eggs, have coffee while checking emails/downloading weatherfaxes.. Clear up in galley. Check on deck more thoroughly, if not too rough, and look over weather info downloaded, to decide on route to take... More weatherfaxes downloaded later in day. Always, of course, with an eye on our course, wind conditions, sails & sail trim .... and state of battery charge.

Daily, a weather /position report made at 2300Z/1500PST - and posted to Winlnk soon after - and daily, while contact is possible, a check-in to Pacific Seafarers Net on 14300 kHz at 0300Z/1900PST - by which time I"ll hope to have cooked and eaten my evening meal. Lunch is often a bit hit-and-miss - maybe cheese or something else simple, if I bother. Plenty of water-bottles are kept topped up and lying around and nuts, cereal bars and dried fuit are to hand at the chart table...

Solar output to batteries is ~8A in sunshine (5A if sun behind a cloud) and with the KISS wind generator working well also, we're presently showing an overall charge going into the battery bank of up to 12A, even with instruments on and small fridge running (that takes quite a bit).

Was good for birds this afternoon, ....one white-tailed tropic bird, 3 red-footed boobies, another booby and finally, around dusk, an all-dark booby - don't know it's name (not in my book!) All flew around several times, looking for a roosting spot...

Was upset to hear of Sam Davies' dismasting (as well as the other earlier Vendée Globe retirees) - what bad luck...!

She reported:
"I have been dreaming of sailing fast in the Southern Ocean ...now I won't get to go this year. I didn't even see a flying fish, nor the Southern Cross.. nor the Albatrosses. ..... However,... WE WILL BE BACK!" Better luck next time, Sam!

Let's hope the remaining skippers all make it safely around ...

At least I've already seen some flying fish.... and even a (N.Pacific!) albatross early on. I look forward to seeing lots more albatross as we get closer to the Southern Ocean - and from where we are now, in the Tropics, the Southern Cross must already be visible - I'll look for it tonight, for sure!!

24hr DMG at 3pm: 143 n.ml.;Golden Gate Bridge 1431n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2080n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 743 n ml SW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator is 849ml due S.... about a week away.

...............................................
If you enjoy following my logs, maybe you'd like to go to my charity donation site by clicking on the daffodil on my website Home page (or visit http://www.justgiving.com/jeannesocrates) to make a donation to Marie Curie Cancer Care in aid of their free specialist home-nursing for the terminally ill - even the smallest of donations will be very welcome! Thank you!
...............................................
Position reports...

1) My own weather and position report, daily to Winlink/Shiptrak - link is on my website's 'Travels' page - click on "Where is Nereida?"

2) http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. when in the Southern Ocean.

3) http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage just now - probably fine until Valparaiso, Chile, and then from 1000ml W of Australia, depending how far N we sail..

Day 26 towards Cape Horn - hot, bright, sunny ... wind dying over the day

Friday16th November 2012

Midday:
Close-hauled, as usual, but not so much we lose all speed. That was the plan, which worked fine overnight and untl now, making just under 6 kt, almost on course. Just a few clouds around by mid-morning and the wind slowly died down, to 10 kt by midday, from the 14kt of earlier. The wind direction is not too helpful just now - it's just north of due East but, hopefully, might back to NE later, in which case we could make a better course. We're trying to head roughly 150T to keep clear of strong convection in the ITCZ to the W, when we arrive there (8-10N) early next week (Mon/Tues?), but that course not possible just now

Later:
A few small deck jobs were very pleasant to do in the breeze - checking bungy ties on toe-rail blocks, along with shackle pins...! Wasn't happy with a couple of leads on the leeward rail so changed things a touch there... Took quite a time and got a bit wet - swell is up just a little now... All very relaxed.... Sat on side-deck in shade of sails and enjoyed just being out at sea in these pleasantconditions! Went to make coffee - ended up cleaning the stove top thoroughly first! Generally, a fairly relaxed day, sailing nicely.

Weather forecast excerpt:
".... MONSOON TROUGH FROM 08N82W TO 06N94W...WHERE IT TRANSITIONS TO ITCZ..CONTINUING TO 08N121W TO 07N126W TO 09N131W TO BEYOND 08N140W. SCATTERED MODERATE (convection) (and) ISOLATED STRONG (convection) FROM 06N TO 10N BETWEEN 119W AND 122W.

.... so I'm presently aiming for 11N, 117W - we'll see how well that works out!!

Wind has backed nicely now (4.30pm) to ENE-NE so we're making a good course -would be nice to avoid that 'convection' activity if at all possible - but there's time for a change in its position - will just keep an eye on it...Downloading satellite photos daily showing where the active clouds are....

9.30pm A lovely starry night sky with BRIGHT Jupiter by the horns of Taurus ... and Orion lying on his side - ready to stand on his head when we're in the Southern hemisphere !! A hazy crescent moon disappeared soon after sunset. Lovely sparkles of light in our bow wave as we sail along.

Must catch up with emails - several well overdue.... !

24hr DMG: 127 n.ml.;Golden Gate Bridge 1320n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 1967n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 750 n ml SW of Cabo San Lucas and 1210 ml W of Acapulco, Mexico. The Equator is 960ml due S.... about 8 days away.
.........................................
If you enjoy following my logs, maybe you'd like to go to my charity donation site by clicking on the daffodil on my website Home page (or visit http://www.justgiving.com/jeannesocrates) to make a donation to Marie Curie Cancer Care in aid of their free specialist home-nursing for the terminally ill - even the smallest of donations will be very welcome! Thank you!
.........................................
Position reports...

1) My own weather and position report, daily to Winlink/Shiptrak - link is on my website's 'Travels' page - click on "Where is Nereida?"

2) http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. when in the Southern Ocean.

3) http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage just now - probably fine until Valparaiso, Chile, and then from 1000ml W of Australia, depending how far N we sail..

Day 25 towards Cape Horn - several urgent jobs - and a flurry of flying fish

Thursday15th November 2012

Job of the day was meant to be a complete re-set of the autopilot course computer in an effort to resolve the rudder bar display problem but in the meantime, it's working fine - at least in present easy conditions.

However, other more urgent jobs cropped up, to get in the way,,,,,

Went to run the generator in the morning, with the battery volts down after light wind overnight reduced input from the wind generator. The oil pressure light came on and it wouldn't start.... I knew straight away what the problem was - I hadn't checked the oil level recently and, sure enough, it was way down... I drained out what little there was and filled with fresh oil - it was very happy to start up immediately I tried it.. One success today!

In order to re-set the course computer for the instruments, I had to put ithe autopilot into 'standby' - so logically, it was a good time to try out the wind steering again - but I'd left the cover off and the pins in to stop it moving, so needed to perch out on the 'sugar scoop' again over the stern. It was also time to trim the sails, with our course needing to be much closer to the veered wind.. Bringing the traveller to windward and trimming nicely put our speed up a good knot!!

Centring the mains'l gave me a chance to look at a suspect pin on the shackle holding the mainsheet block to the boom end - It had caught my eye yesterday as seeming to be rather too proud of the shackle ... on closer inspection now, it was nearly out!! So, before working on the windsteering system, I decided the least I should do was to tie off the boom with another rope so it would be safe. I used the same pole guy line as when raising the anchor in SF Bay ...... around the boom end, through the blocks of the traveller, out to a turning block on the toe rail and thence to a winch. With the load off the block and shackle, I was later able to release the pin, re-tighten it, wire it safely and then allow it to take up the load. ......A nightmare scenario averted in the nick of time!!

I set the wind steering working again - without dropping anything into the sea, working safely again using the sturdy struts off the stern to stand between or sit on. Sailing close-hauled means that the boat pretty well steers herself, so the gear isn't really being tested very well, but all seems fine, for the moment.

As the sun was getting low in the sky, I finally got to the re-setting of the course computer.... I carefully went through the procedure, noting all previous settings, ready to re-enter them.. To be sure I'd got it right, I did it all twice... Nada! The rudder bar is still missing in Standby....grrr!!!! I'm now awaiting my next instructions... To be fair, things have to be tested in a sequence, in order to eliminate possibilities..... but....

I was famished ... nothing since breakfast ... Time for a quickly-prepared meal -a tin of tuna, half one of chick peas, mayonnaise.. works well, with no cooking or heating required ...with cheese and an apple and mandarin to follow... wonderful!!!

..... until I noticed a ship heading our way- CPA under1.5 ml in 45 mins... that's too close in my book!! As I finished eating, I got out the handheld VHF (the ship's radio doesn't often seem to work too well) and called .. and called... and called... I even switched on the deck light, which lit up the sails beautifully... Still no reply - but I could see them now in the distance! Finally, they replied, agreed to alter course to starboard and pass our stern.... I never found out what their cargo was, on its way to China from Panama, but had a long chat with the friendly Russian officer who several times asked if I had problem, after telling him I was a sailing yacht with no motor, headed for Cape Horn!!

Sky has been rather cloudy, but there's been some very hot sun when it got out... definitely getting into sticky climes - we're in the Tropics and the sea is now 32C!! We passed through a shoal of tiny flying fish (first seen so far) - they scattered every which way! Wind has veered into the east - we're probably going to be headed by light SSE winds nearer the Equator - but that might change. For now, I'm trying to make what Easting I can, partly to avoid convection regions in the ITCZ further W and partly to be ready for the SE Trades which might make it difficult to head due south.

24hr DMG: 147 n.ml.;Golden Gate Bridge 1202n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 1847n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 732 n ml WSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

.........................................
Position reports...

I report my weather and position daily to Winlink/Shiptrak - link is on my website's 'Travels' page - click on "Where is Nereida?"

Then there's http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. when in the Southern Ocean
and http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage just now.

Days 23/24 towards Cape Horn - sun at times, mostly light wind from NE, problems

Tuesday/Wednesday 13/14th November 2012

The autopilot rudder bar display disappeared again - while in 'Standby' and under windsteering....grrr!! Happened after I'd made some checks on the resistance of the wires from the rudder reference unit to the course computer - all seemed fine. Took a time to get to under-bunk spaces by course computer and rudder to make the checks, but with fairly calm conditions, it wasn't too difficult. So it would seem that the rudder reference unit itself is possibly OK and has not been stressed /damaged ... I'm waiting for a reply as to my next step in trying to fix the problem but used the AP over Tuesday night into Wednesday and it held course fine in light conditions, with only small movements of the wheel needed to keep us on course, despite the rudder ref problem - wind was only 6-10 kt from ENE-NE... and on Wed in slightly stronger wind, it still did OK... All very frustrating!

In the meantime, the windsteering has also been giving problems - the thinking was that there's possibly a loose bolt - I had a good look today (Wed) - bolt is so tight I can't budge it! And other items I've checked seem OK.... Managed to work safely on the system without heaving to - nice to have sturdy struts to stand in between while working from the lowest step on the 'sugar-scoop"!

Earlier in the day, I looked at the stored tomatoes, after a major galley and general tidy-up. They'd been carefully packed in plastic bags and then sealed in another, partly-evacuated bag - I can definitely confirm that this is NOT a system that works!! Whereas one large 'beefeater-type' tomato, left open to the air, is still firm and edible - I'll fry it tonight with some ham and eggs, along with some potato.... The mandarins wrapped in foil are doing reasonably well and potatoes, onions and apples are all fine.

Sky has been often cloudy - nothing too grey, mostly a thin white broken layer, but we've not seen the sun too often - although it is nice and warm - comfortable, just now, with cabin temperature around 26C - and sea temperature at 29C!! Swell has been far less over yesterday and until this evening - mostly from NE at around 1.5-2m. Sailing has been very pleasant, under full canvas.

Occasional ships pass in the distance - from Panama, usually making for Asia - all well clear.

No repeat of the booby that tried to roost in the rigging - it was well offshore!

DMG to 3pmPST/2300GMT:
Tues: 138 n.ml
Wed: 116 n.ml.(lighter wind than Tuesday);Golden Gate Bridge 1072n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 1714n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 980 ml W of Ipala which is just south of Cabo Corrientes in Guadalajara, Mexico.

.........................................
Position reports...

I report weather and position daily to Winlink/Shiptrak - link is on my website's 'Travels' page - click on "Where is Nereida?"

Then there's http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - showing my position as transmitted via my AIS signal - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites - good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, i.e. when in the Southern Ocean (Has a problem in Chrome, I hear - try another browser!)

and http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - showing my position via a GPS 'tracker' unit onboard - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage just now.

Day 22 towards Cape Horn - A booby comes to visit, in continuing grey conditions

Monday 12th November 2012

Not a lot of interest to report today - the same dull grey sky and lumpy grey seas with still a fair swell running from NNE. There's been a Low to the W of us, so it's taken away the warmth & blue skies I'd been expecting here (we even had some rain mid-afternoon) - but it must dissipate soon! Winds have been NE, becoming NNE as the day progressed, mostly 18-20kt, giving good boat speed around 7kt, easing to 16kt mid-afternoon and up to a boisterous 23kt in the early evening - when the 'Sven Maersk' crossed our path, a mere 1.5 ml ahead, on passage from Balboa, Panama Canal, to Russia with a cargo of containers. (We kept a good eye on each other!) From Russia (ETA 28th Nov), they'll go south to China and then back to the Panama Canal for their next load... We exchanged good wishes for a safe passage.

On going up on deck to keep an eye out for the ship, I was kept entertained for a good half hour by a brown booby trying to land in our rigging to roost overnight - darkness was just falling... It was amazingly agile and managed to grab hold of the wires just above the first spreader several times, but had to let go because there was nowhere suitable for it to land on in the lumpy seas running at the time - strings I have rigged between the mast steps and shrouds must have also been a problem for it. That's exactly what I thought might have happened at the mast top a few days back, when the wind instrument suddenly started giving silly readings... It was making the same kind of twittering noise I'd heard then.

Still heading just E of S - partly thinking about angle to Trade winds (NETrades now & then SE Trades once S of the ITCZ) but mainly looking at avoiding possible areas of strong convection around 10N where the ITCZ band starts. Presently making for 120W which looks nicely in between the nasty stuff - for the moment!! It's always such a gamble - and the forecasts never show all the real-life detail you get once you're there!!

The autopilot is defintely behaving fine now - that's a relief... Having received a prompt email response from Raymarine UK, I have some checks on the resistance of the wires from the rudder reference unit to the course computer to make, but that will be easier to do when the swell is less - no hurry. (That will show if the system has been stressed /damaged or not)

I was hoping to see a meteorite shower near sunrise - but the cloud layer prevented that! John, VK4DBJ, in Queensland, had kindly responded to my query on the name of the bright planet I'd seen just above Taurus the other night - Jupiter, he tells me, .... with Saturn becoming clearer in the E sky near sunrise - but he also mentioned the annual Taurid meteor shower we were passing through over these two days - no chance of seeing it unfortunately, with this cloud ....

DMG to 3pmPST/2300GMT: Much better than of late, at 145 n.ml !!; Golden Gate Bridge: 830n.ml; Strait of Juan de Fuca was 1466n.ml away at 3pm & our position was 720 ml W of the coast of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, near Todos Santos.

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Position reports are available a-plenty!

I report weather and position daily to Winlink/Shiptrak - link is on my website's 'Travels' page - click on "Where is Nereida?"

Then there's http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - showing my position as transmitted via my AIS signal - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites so good everywhere, especially nearer the poles, when in the Southern Ocean (Has a problem in Chrome, I hear - try another browser!)

and http://oceantracker.net?event=nereida - showing my position via a GPS 'tracker' unit onboard - courtesy "Oceantracker' using geo-stationary satellites with good coverage just now.