Day 16 - Fresh water and judicious banging do the trick ... Surfing with waves..

Thursday 12th November 2010

I'm heading more to S - if gribs & weatherfaxes are to be believed, I'll lose wind if I get too much further E over next few days. Might be best to be well W of 120W, so course changed to S or just E of S.

I've been looking at grib weather files for down to Cape Horn from here - looks as though it's a good idea anyway to stay around 120W most of way down, to set up for the High down in S. Pacific - with a few twiddles as winds dictate.

Finally unjammed the jaw opening of the pole - required a mix of fresh water treatment and careful but firm banging with a heavy spanner on the spring-operated metal 'pin' closure of jaw opening which takes genoa sheet. Oil hadn't helped, so sea-salt crystals were obviously the problem. Finally got the genoa poled out upwind successfully by sunset... Always feels so much better and stable running downwind like that - and speed definitely increases.

Seas quite big and steep now - so surfing lots - over 7-8 knots! Although we're swinging about as waves catch hold of us, it's not too bad ... and nice to see the speed!

Downloaded photo from Honolulu transmitter (KVM) showing cloud cover from 55N down to ITCZ (9-10N) and beyond. (ITCZ, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, is also known as the 'Doldrums' for the frequent lack of wind for days on end). ITCZ looks active and wide around 135W-125W, then narrow in one section S of here, ~120W, then active and wide again around 110W - pity it doesn't stay still for long enough to help a lot with planning ahead! I just hope I can avoid the worst of the ITCZ bad weather - we'll see when I'm nearer! At the rate of 2 degrees of latitude a day (120 n.ml.), it'll take me just over a week to reach the iTCZ - I hope it's not too bad! This time last year, heading S down the Atlantic, it was really horrible S of the Cape Verde Islands - lightning clouds everywhere and lightning hitting the sea close by "Nereida"... very uncomfortable feelings! No wind, then violent gusts... nasty!

Batteries have done OK today and tonight ... with plenty of sun and wind, no problem during the day, and not too bad tonight, since on windsteering, which has been coping fine, despite the big swell, and have had good wind, so windgenerator has been putting in electrons well, until wind died a touch (down to 15-16 kt now) from 19 kt earlier. Having to keep a really careful watch on volts display all the time....

Beautiful night - some cloud but stars galore, downwind with poled-out genoa and pleasant temp - 19C air and 20C sea now - getting warmer slowly!

"Nereida" at 1200 UTC: 27N, 123W. 475 ml W of Pta San Roque, Baja California, Mexico. We made 147 n.ml. DMG over the 24hrs... better!

(See charts showing daily positions/tracks during passage using links on 'Travels' page on website)

Written by : Mike

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