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Day 13 What a beautiful day's sailing - downwind in sunshine, under a clear blue sky.....

Sunday 7th November 2010

"Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day ....."!!

Gentle, if rolly, downwind sailing... blue skies... NO RAIN... good speed... good course.... It was a lovely day today - the BEST!

I put boots, shoes, gloves, jacket and salopettes into the cockpit to dry out - which they did!

I'd got worried last night when I went to cook my evening meal - turned on the hob burner - nada! Surely the tank hasn't run out already? Then I spotted the light was out on the solenoid switch. If the solenoid valve stops working, there's no gas flow possible - maybe that was the problem? (I have a spare on board) But then I remembered there's a circuit-breaker at the chart table - sure enough, for whatever reason, it was tripped. So once re-set, we were back into cooking - a relief! I've had to play around changing (or dispensing with) gas solenoid valves before now - no problem at anchor or in a marina, but no fun in a big swell at sea, especially perched in the open stern of the boat....

After a good meal , and enjoying a lovely sunset , I was ready for sleep, but was up soon after midnight with the wind having veered and dropped suddenly from SW 20 knots to just 12 knots from the WNW - pressure was up from the 1015 hPa of early evening to 1019 hPa - good news in a way, since it meant high pressure was building to the West of us, hopefully giving nice settled conditions for quite a few days to come. The wind has slowly backed more over the day - to NW and on to NNW, now tending more to N. So I unfurled the genoa fully and finally, around noon, and by now running well downwind, I unfurled the stays'l to windward. It spills the air nicely from the mains'l into the genoa and keeps it filled - a bonus of having a cutter rig, since it often avoids having to pole out the genoa and is so quick and easy to do. Our speed increased immediately, showing how effective the ploy is. I was expecting the wind to veer N sooner than it seems to be doing - and that would mean gybing in order to maintain our preferred course of around 150-155T.... one reason I was a bit loathe to pole out too soon! Gybing gets complicated and time-consuming, once poled out!

The wind has been good, at 16-21 knots all day, giving a good speed (often over 6 kt), despite the quite big quartering seas - 3-4 m from WSW-W most of the day, although by evening, down a bit, as was the wind (to 12 knots).

Solar panels were seen for some time to be giving consistenly 13-14A, peaking at 18A at noon - that's excellent, considering the low angle of the sun's rays due to the time of year! They made up for the often low wind-power input due to sailing downwind, with a reduced apparent wind as a consequence.

I also ran the motor to circulate the oil and check it was OK (!). I'd hoped 10 minutes would be long enough, but wanted the cylinder block to warm up before I switched off - and that took 15 minutes minimum- so I revved up in neutral to charge the batteries a bit, thinking that since I was using some fuel anyway, I might as well check out my emergency charging while at it! Despite the gear cables being wired to prevent forward propulsion, all worked well in neutral - good news!

Another lovely sunset to end what for me was the best day of the passage so far - I have felt very relaxed and positive .... and I'm looking forward to quite a few more days like this one. Oh - I nearly forgot - I celebrated the day with a fresh grapefruit and by cooking a large but tasty Chinook (salmon) steak, eaten with buttery potatoes and petits pois .. mmm!! Thanks again, Mike and Kathy! That's tomorrow's meal sorted, as well!

Written by : Mike

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