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Day 21 from Cape Town to Hobart - several albatross at dawn,.. good day's sailing ...

Monday 27th February 2012 - Another time zone crossed into -it's GMT+5 here!

Made little or no distance overnight, with wind having died right down and, around dawn, found we were hove to, with sails backed after the wind had finally gently veered into the NNW. Gybed the sails onto port tack and soon we were moving again with the wind slowly but surely increasing.

By midday, we were sailing beautifully at over 7 knots in N winds of 21 knots - beam reaching. After the High pressure that was close N of us overnight, a Front is approaching, from a developing Low just SW of us which will be passing close by over today and tonight - with another abrupt change of wind direction expected near midnight and strong winds ahead and behind.... Sounds familiar...!

Sky has thin overcast - sun is trying to struggle through... Swell not too bad just now, at around 4m and well spaced...
Well, it didn't take long for the swell to build up once the wind got up to 20 knots and over! Like a 'bucking bronco' at times, we made excellent speed at 7-8 knots. To the N, the edge of the cloud cover, and blue sky, marked the direction of the High and, to the S, solid cloud marked the Low's direction. I gradually furled in more of the genoa as the wind picked up. We are headed roughly E and the swell and seas are coming from the N and so on our beam.

I'm finally on to the last carton of Argentinian UHT milk ... opened for my cereal this morning. UHT milk lasts so well and is far superior to powdered milk, although in Australia, I came across one brand of powdered milk which was superb - couldn't tell it from fresh! If I get the chance in Tasmania, I'll stock up with some of it.

I never fail to be thrilled by the sight of a pair of albatross circling the boat - two Wandering albatross (NZ, Tristan or Snowy, difficult to say..) have been close by today - and I glued my eyes to them whenever they got really close, trying to check on their plumage details. On looking in my birdbook, I discovered that there's a possibility that the juvenile I saw yesterday might have actually been a rare Amsterdam albatross - we're just over 500 miles SW of Amsterdam Island now - a tiny speck in the Ocean, close to the volcanic remnant of St Paul's - both too far N to visit on this passage, unfortunately, unless I want to be becalmed regularly and have to motor, that is. They're right where the Indian Ocean High seems to be pinned to, just now.

(LATER) Wow! The juvenile Wandering is back .. seemingly, the pair could be its parents?.... and also a fourth albatross later this afternoon - white splashes on its upper wings - from black on tail, it's likely to be not a Royal but a Wandering...

By 5pm, the wind was gusting to 27 kt under an overcast sky, raining slightly at times & as darkness was gathering, I sat out in the cockpit, getting splashed by spray regularly, fascinated by the awesome scene - the rough seas, with 'white horses' everywhere, the big swell, the many birds circling and swooping, often coming really close by... Gave me the chance to spot 3 albatross resting in the sea together - TWO juveniles and an adult - clearly there were five altogether now! Winds were often up to 35+ knots and I'd gone up with the thought of preparing to heave to - but decided things were OK at that point and the boat was doing fine - I felt I just needed to keep an eye on the wind strength and direction over the evening ...

All very well in daylight but, by 9pm, with the wind continually gusting to 35+ knots, it was not such a comfortable feeling and I realized that in order to rest overnight, I'd have to heave to at some point.... Pity, since we were making good speed! But better sooner than later - into foulies again and up we go...

DMG: 104 n.ml. (didn't get very far overnight, with v. little wind...)

Weather report:
TIME: 2012/02/27 12:00 LAT: 41-51.40S LONG: 068-07.78E
CLOUDS: 98% BARO: 1014 TREND: -2
COMMENT: Wind up after calm o'night,pressure down,seas rough.CF cometh!

Let's see if I can post this - radio comms proving difficult ....

Written by : Mike

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