Saturday 23rd April 2011 - A bumpy ride - close-hauled, heading in to building seas
Grey skies first thing, with occasional glimpse of sun, but more sun seen later, as clouds broke up more... A solitary Atlantic petrel flying around - all dark on top, black breast, white underbody, all-black wedge tail ... no other birds just now... Winds from N, over last day or so, are setting up a swell and wind waves from N also - getting a little bit wet on deck occasionally because we're on a close reach, so heading into the seas...
Spoke to John, (not Peter!), ZD9GI, on Gough Island, who relayed for me to the S.African M.M. Net. Said that on Tristan da Cunha, they're still clearing up oil spill from ship that went aground there - major environmental disaster.... bad long-term consequences for the island's bird population, some of which are endemic to this group of islands and breed nowhere else...
Radio propagation is not too good just now - very difficult yesterday and a bit better, but still not good, today. Had trouble contacting the Patagonia Net - just made it, and relayed position of 'Artemisia2' as well ... Milo and Teresa, not far from Rio de Janeiro, are having a problem with lack of wind and dodging rigs and long, long tows in the major oil field well S of Vitoria where they're headed to. Interestingly, I made excellent contact on 7MHz around 2300GMT last night with a Winlink radio station in Nova Scotia: Neil, VE1YZ, is close to Halifax, 5,454ml away from here on a bearing of 334T, and there's some kind of a N-S radio connection that often works really well to here, deep in the S. Atlantic, around midnight GMT. According to propagation tables, there's a near-zero chance of making the connection on that frequency - but for two nights now, I've had an excellent one!! I've had the same experience when well S in the S. Atlantic previously - doesn't always happen, but when it does, it works well! Something to do with the Earth's magnetic flux, maybe?
Report at 1400UTC:
LATITUDE: 39-56.99S LONGITUDE: 026-06.28W
COURSE: 097T SPEED: 5.7
WIND_SPEED: 16 WIND_DIR: N SWELL_DIR: N SWELL_HT: 2.0M
CLOUDS: 95% BARO: 1023 TREND: -1
COMMENT: Sailing nicely... 24hr DMG 139ml. Distance to Cape Town: 2099ml
Wind up to around 16knots, giving 20kt apparent. Getting slowly more bumpy as seas build up with the consistent wind direction and increasing strength. Expected slowly to increase to mid-twenties by tomorrow night and on into Monday, with corresponding increased swell. Occasional water washing decks... Making good speed - boat speed 6.5-7 kt consistently, SOG just over 7 kt... nice to see! Double-reefed mains'l, two 'reefs' in genoa plus stays'l.
Few birds seen today ... pair of Atlantic petrels earlier, but surprisingly, no Gt shearwaters ...normally, our most devoted companions since soon after we started from Stanley!!
Later: Not long after sunset, winds and seas seemed to be building, so decided to reef down more for overnight, while there was still light in the sky..... Think I rather overdid it, since our speed dropped dramatically, but I've left it - and our speed has come back up to a fairly reasonable 4.5-5.5 knots. I may unfurl some genoa if our speed drops down again.... but i want to avoid unnecessary heeling in the building waves which are beginning to knock us about....
1.30am Getting VERY bumpy in stronger wind from N, 20-23kt, heading nearly East! (Making 6.8-7.0 kt in apparent wind 25kt, close reaching) Seeing if I can connect to VE1YZ to send this...