Friday 29th April
It was so disappointing to have to leave Gough Island last night - but I had no choice. Just imagine..... strong onshore winds pushing us into the rocky shore nearby, with the anchor not set because when I tried to go astern to do so, we seemed instead to be moving forward (... problem due to the prop-wrap I seemed to have got a while back?). I tried gently several times to go astern.... it just wasn't working out and depth was a problem - if I moved too far away from shore, we 'd end up in too great a depth of water for the 100m of chain I had available - as it was, I lowered it all and then had to keep a careful eye on our position all the time we were there - a bit of a worry....
If the wind had been from the usual NW-W, we might have got away with staying overnight (with an anchor alarm & watch) - the bay is completely protected from that direction by high cliffs, with mountains behind, and the water would have been totally calm - but not last night..... I needed more time to fix the windsteering rudder in place securely - and just didn't have it.... Very frustrating, having succeeded, to my surprise, in getting it onto the stock without too much trouble - but then finding it very difficult to stay safely onboard while I held the heavy rudder from slipping down and simultaneously tried to locate the inner hole for the pin... not normally a big problem, but with the wave action, it just wasn't happening .... The only good thing about it all was the water temperature (nothing like as cold as I was expecting) and my waterproof seaboots and foulies (protecting me from the frequent water over them)!!
Feeling quite tired, but pausing to fix something to eat (I'd had very little all day), I raised the mains'l and anchor and got underway... Still lots of birds around, even overnight. and a brilliantly clear starry sky, with Milky Way sprinkled across it, a short while later. Conditions started so light and we made so little speed (wind NW 9 kt, dropping to 5kt!) that I started up the motor to get away from the island, but within an hour, out of the lee of the island and the wind having veered back into the N, we were sailing well without it. John said they had 25 to 30 knots at the base nearby overnight, but we had a good sail, in slowly increasing N winds to below 20 kt until late afternoon, the seas gradually increasing with the wind, becoming quite lumpy and rough. I reduced sail quite a bit before dark, ready for possible 30kt winds as a Front passes by soon...
The big problem of the day has turned into instrumentation - a main display at the chart table has stopped its display - meaning it no longer shows what wind we have .... nor depth, speed or position - although fortunately, a separate (AIS) instrument is giving position along with SOG & COG - TG for independent back-ups!! And I can't use the autopilot in 'wind-vane' mode or read off the True windspeed (from the cockpit wind instrument) because the boatspeed and SOG info isn't being sent around the system ..... Fortunately, we're making do OK with what info we have - and managing roughly to keep on course for Cape Town.... TG also, that the AP has a fluxgate compass linked into it, so that it has the independent info it needs to steer a course.... It just all means that life has become a little more complicated if we're to make Cape Town OK!
LAT: 40-13S LONG: 007-32W COURSE: 085T SPEED: 6.4
WIND_SPEED: 19 WIND_DIR: N SWELL_DIR: N SWELL_HT: 3.0M
BARO: 1020 TREND: -2
24hr DMG (despite stop at Gough Island): 110 n.ml. Distance to Cape Town: 1294 n.ml.
Tonight: Wind has got up to 23-27kt (apparent), gusting higher, it's raining hard (that Front!) and seas are up to a good 4m or so - it's life in the rough, bumpy, fast lane again overnight...!