Day 14 - 11mls in one day... 8 mls further from Cape Town...! Storm hits overnight...

Monday 18th April 2011

Couldn't sleep properly after getting back to bunk just before dawn. Rolling had started to increase and the thought of needing to see to the seawater pump impellor while in calm conditions got me up to get on with the job.

While lying half awake, it had suddenly occurred to me I'd not mentioned anything about the actual deployment of the drogue overnight Saturday into Sunday, as winds and seas were increasing.... I started by dropping the mains'l, having then to tie it in, of course, - that took a time and some effort (needs a better system!), but I'd taken in the third reef in readiness a short time before. Then we ran off downwind and reduced the headsail to nothing, before deploying the drogue - that part was the easiest! It is always stowed 'ready to go' flaked in its bag held on the port quarter steelwork with the bridle already attached to the strong points on each quarter at the base of the steelwork. All I had to do was to pull out the chain, which acts as a weight at its far end to keep it under the waves, from its own pocket outside the bag and throw it overboard, under the steelwork - it all then ran out nicely with very little help from me.

As soon as we had headed downwind, it felt calmer, that's normal, but once the drogue was deployed, it definitely stopped us slewing about as we were picked up by the waves. We simply lift up and down, as the waves pass under us from directly astern, and our orientation to the waves is always the same - the bridle and line see to that. When I go into the cockpit to see how things are, I get just very slightly splashed, on occasion, from a tumbling wave crest as it passes beside the boat.

On with engine/impellor job.... Moving the heavy steps in the motion caused by the big swell was difficult - I didn't want to damage anything, including me!
The wooden panel under the steps, needing to be removed for easy access, has been sticking of late - I had great trouble, with the swell not helping, getting it to slide up in order to remove it... (I later cleaned the edges and smeared them with Teflon grease - that made it far easier to replace.)

Once I had access, taking off the impellor cover, and catching the seawater running out, was the easy part! On close inspection, I found the impellor was perfect - no hint of damage ..... I decided not to replace it, just greased cover etc on putting back together. (Please, don't email me telling me I should have done so...!!! If I'd had the slightest doubt, I would have done...) The oil was re-checked - level was fine, as were the coolant level and seawater filter. Went to start the motor - no lights on panel ... went to use switch on start motor - nada! ..what??? Eventually discovered main motor switch in aft cabin had been knocked by something in the big seas we've been getting - and was in 'Off' position.... After that, motor started and seemed fine but can't test motive power or if prop OK until we're off the drogue, clearly. Revved up in neutral and in gear - seemed OK... & water is coming out from exhaust OK too. So I'm hopeful..... io./\
an email from Clive later, telling me to check the gear oil - important, he said... And when I finally get to use the motor, keep an eye on levels every two hours... He's worried the engine might have overheated...

Midday position: Close to yesterday's - we made 11 miles, away from Cape Town, between the two midday positions!! Pressure 1022 hPa.

Wind is 45kt, gusting 49kt - much stronger conditions than I was expecting. I'm glad I have the drogue deployed in the big (5m or so) seas being generated. Wind is from ENE, our bows are pointing dead downwind but a current effect is causing us to drift SSW, rather than WSW, as one would expect. We're making 2.6kt SOG, with 2kt of boatspeed. It's been raining for some time, having been grey all day, with intermittent rain... the wind is neither howling nor whistling in the rigging - but something in between the two..... quite musical, in fact. Every so often, we move with a wave and hear it passing - roaring, swishing or hissing if it tumbles, ....

I'm replying to emails and writing this log report, partly to take my mind off the noisy conditions. The vane repair will have to wait - I have yet to cut the batten to size, to use the two lengths as 'splints' over the broken tube section, wired in place... My mind is outside....

Wind still around 45-47 kt... boat speed around 2kt, SOG 2.5-3kt. Pressure 1011 hPa. Grib files have pressure right (centre of Low supposed to be at 996 hPa) but way underestimate wind strength - giving 27kt, not the 47 kt we're getting! Expecting these conditions to continue until near midday tomorrow.

Just got hit three times in quick succession by breaking waves - each time, water in cockpit and a lot of water down below via channels of sliding hatch ... I got a bit wet, saved the computer and the floor is soaking... but otherwise the boat is OK. By the time the third one came, I'd placed the clear hanging screen by the chart table to protect it from water from the companionway area - better late than never - we could get more hits.... We've drifted so far S since last night, we're now only 12 miles from the latitude of midday Saturday....

Written by : Mike

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