Day 16 Fax and modem problems - and gusty rainclouds!

Wednesday 10th November

It was nice to see the clouds 'lined up' along the wind direction yesterday - showing how consistently the wind was blowing -from mainly the N. Basically, we're skirting a High pressure area (the N. Pacific High) so should keep the winds astern. Effectively, we're in the NE Trades although they've yet to swing slightly more to the E than they are at present.

The cloudy weather of yesterday continued overnight, but with bigger grey clouds today, giving somewhat varying wind - in both direction and strength. We were happily under windsteering for a long time - until a 20kn gust came through - a raincloud nearby... followed by some rain, but not much. Onto autopilot, while things are sorted out, after having headed up - maybe a reef in the mains'l would be good...! We were clearly over-canvassed for the conditions....

The trouble with running downwind is that the apparent wind is so reduced, it's tempting to go with that. I always remember an instructor making the comment that the reefing should be not much different from on the wind - "What if you head up suddenly, for some reason?" he asked. I've had to gybe several times, with the changes in wind direction .... a good reason, to my mind, not to have the genoa poled out.... I've been using the stays'l from time to time again, to spill the wind onto the genoa instead. Safe and simple! As I write this, the wind is up to 20 knots yet again, from 12-14kt, and now more just E of N, from NNW. It's proving difficult to make our preferred course of 150-155T with these clouds around making the wind vary so often.

Yesterday, I decided to download a weather fax 'live' (as it was being transmitted) directly to the PC, rather than ask for it by email (they're really big files). But I found the fax 'window' just wasn't behaving.... After lots of effort, searching the computer everywhere, and also getting nowhere with putting in the frequencies manually, I decided the problem had to be a missing item - the 'GetFax ' module was nowhere to be seen among the PC folders. It used to be there - but not now.... I searched among my CDs & USB memory sticks and eventually found a copy - TG! After some copying and pasting, I finally had the fax side of things working - but what a long time it all took!

My next hiccup occurred in the dark hours of this morning when I went to post the noon UTC position report, shortly after writing it around 4.15 am local time (PST). The Pactor modem, which enables me to send emails from my laptop to the SSB radio for transmitting to a shore station on the Internet, was refusing to power up. In my efforts to conserve battery power, I'd thought of turning off the radio completely, instead of leaving it on standby as usual. I'd felt for the switch in the dark several times - and clearly must have eventually disturbed the wires from the radio to the modem. I was pretty sure I knew what was wrong - one particular connection has often come loose if disturbed - but getting to it, behind the instrument panel at the chart table, is another matter - not easy, ... very convoluted, in fact. By 6.30am, I'd just finished putting things back together at the chart table instrument panel, having spent that amount of time getting to the offending rear connection and sorting out the problem - with feelings of hopelessness for a time that it didn't seem to be happening and I'd come to a dead end... grrr!! Without the modem working, no emailing or downloading of weatherfaxes to the computer by radio is possible.

On a happier note - I cooked a delicious steak and onions, with fried potatoes and green beans, last evening - fabulous! I was enjoying it as I checked in to the Pacific Seafarers Net - amazingly, yet again, propagation was fine & I heard almost everyone clearly, as they did me. (Aussie Paul, VK2HMV, came up with a method of disposing of unwelcome rats and mice: get them to drink Coke, which they love, and they'll 'explode' from the gas inside them because they can't burp - yuck!!) I'm looking forward to another good meal tonight - it becomes an important item in the day - especially when breakfast has been delayed to midday!!

We're now at 30N, 124W .... 420 miles due W of San Quintin, in Baja California, Mexico. And we made 136 miles in the 24hrs to this morning - not as much as I'd hoped, but not too bad, considering winds of just 10-14 knots!

Written by : Mike

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