Thursday 8:45am NZT (Wed 2045GMT) Full daylight since well before 6:30am NZT. A repeat then exactly of what I wrote yesterday! 'Showery, gusty conditions with plenty of rain clouds around.' - except that the clouds have suddenly mostly cleared away so the gusty conditions should be a thing of the past for now.
Wind from SSE now around 12kt and expected to lessen and back slowly over the day as High pressure builds further. Will need to keep an eye on wind direction - a nuisance not to have any wind information on display anywhere, but the change is expected to be very slow so no big problem monitoring it.
Seas are still around 3m/10ft, although less close and with two totally different swell directions - from both SE and WSW - the sea state is still quite confused and choppy. But, with the lighter wind, there are no tumbling crests so we're not being hit suddenly and so no sudden lurches to catch me unprepared.
While I was spending time studying the swells, there were several albatrosses soaring around in the bright sunshine. Unusually, I saw one flapping its wings several times as it flew close to the sea surface. They are normally seen just gliding around, using the uplift from the waves and rarely needing to flap their wings.
10:40am That large patch of blue sky and bright sunshine didn't last long - we're back into almost total overcast, although quite bright, and gusty conditions again. I'm so glad that 1st reef is still in! We're heeling well in the present gust and making over 6kt with seas occasionally coming on deck...
4pm Sun already low in the W. Had a very good map earlier - didn't realise how tired I was but clearly needed it. Running generator and watermaker after checking in with Pacific Seafarers' Net. Seas are a lot easier now, although still from two directions - WSW predominant one and a smaller one from E and wind is down to around 10kt from SSE, so boat speed well down. Wind expected to die down to around 7 kt or less over coming 24hrs or more - centre of H will be passing over us as it heads SE slowly.
4:25pm Conditions looking more settled now although still a few big clouds around - about 30% cover. Would be shaking out the first reef but sunset now - so will leave overnight and shake out at first light in the morning. Compromising with a bit of sail trimming - always a good thing to do.
4:50pm As if to confirm a good decision - we've a big grey cloud over most of the sky, wind has increased a lot and light rain has fallen. We're making 5-6kt now and heeling a fair amount. There's a lot more cloud around than just a short while earlier. I've just been to the mast to check on some lines there and will make some pancakes while there's still a little light - fading fast...
A few minutes later - wind has now died right down again, so boat speed has dropped,but good to know that if another rain cloud comes over during the night, we'll not be over-canvassed with the first reef in.
A few albatross seen circling around again, despite the light having almost completely gone. Maybe the same ones as seen earlier today. They must be about to settle for the night.
Air temperature is just over 19C now - slowly getting higher each day as we head N.
7pm Enjoying some chocolate with my last Dark 'n' Stormy of this voyage after a very nice celebratory meal of chicken and asparagus in white sauce followed by pancakes with maple syrup (almost finished) - all in celebration of crossing the Date Line imminently - we're now at 173 10'W, so another 40' to go before crossing it at 172 30'W. It's actually 40 miles away along our present course so likely not to be until around dawn tomorrow but no worries - anticipation is good! Maybe I'll be able to enjoy a celebratory breakfast as well.
Future celebrations, apart from arrival, will be on crossing the two Tropics (Capricorn at 23.5S and Cancer at 23.5N) and the Equator -I have something else left for those parties!
The sky was clear and full of stars a short while ago - but suddenly we were galloping along at speed - another cloud had come by... Now we're back to crawling at a snail's pace, after it passed over... A real stop and start night, this will be.
4:30am We've gone around in several circles - wind is so light and has clearly backed a lot, so it's difficult to know where exactly it's coming from, except maybe somewhere between E and N ....! According to forecast, it should be 7kt from ESE but doesn't seem to be. We're making such little speed, maybe better to down sails and just drift - trying to ignore fact that it would seem to be to NNW-NW since low speed doesn't exactly get us very far in several hours even....so it's of little consequence which way we drift. We're presently making 354T at ~1.5kt.
6:30am Bright moon high up in clear sky overhead as first light increases before sunrise and stars fade. Venus low over pink-orange-coloured E horizon above long, low, grey cloud which is seen all around, low on horizon. Everywhere else, a clear sky.
We're creeping along at 2.4kt due N in ESE wind that is hardly turning the windgen blades, it's so light - around 5-6kt maybe and only just able to make the tiny ripples on the water surface that show its true direction.
Wind is forecast to back further and stay very light over next 24hrs - so we'll probably be forced to head either NNW-NW or ESE-SE - neither of which is in keeping with my preferred ENE course.
The aim is to reach 27S 155W if at all possible - and preferably not be overtaken before then by a strong Low system heading SE towards us early next week. Until then the winds are clocking all around - soon to N, then W and finally E, sometimes quite strong in between the lighter wind.
Seems to me we've a 50-50 chance of making our WP in good time.... A very frustrating few days coming up - yet again!
And we still haven't crossed the Date Line - maybe not for another slow day or two....
While sailing around the world, I'm trying to raise funds to help support the superb life-saving work done by the RNLI (Lifeboats) in Britain each and every day of the year, regardless how bad the weather. In fact, the worse it is, the more likely they are out there, helping someone in distress - whether a swimmer, surfer, small boat or big ship, night or day, summer or winter. They are all volunteers with normal day-jobs who respond immediately to a call and it is a charity - no government funding - so they rely on our help to fund their intensive training and maintain their equipment.
It would be great if you would take a moment to click on the Lifeboats link here (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jeanne-Socrates2), if you'd like to show your support for my efforts at sailing solo, nonstop, unassisted around the globe, trying to set a World Record as the oldest person to do so, by donating something towards the great work the RNLI do every day. If a lot of people put in even a small amount, it all adds up... Thanks a lot! If you can help, it will be very much appreciated. Let's see if we can reach my target!
1900GMT (= 7 a.m. NZT) - end of Day 260. We made 66 n.ml. DMG, measured in a straight line between the two 1900GMT positions.
Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 260 (by daily DMGs): 21,006 n.ml
Distances (at 1900GMT): Wellington, N.Island, N.Z.: 671 n.ml. to SW; East Cape, N.Z.: 432 n.ml. to WSW; Christchurch, S.Island, N.Z.: 828 n.ml. to SW; Tahiti: 1632 n.ml. to NE
Position, as posted to www.Winlink.org and www.Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):
TIME: 2019/06/20 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 35-13.94S LONGITUDE: 172-57.84W
COURSE: 000T SPEED: 2.1kt
WIND_SPEED: 6kt WIND_DIR: ESE SWELL_DIR: SW SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 10%
BARO: 1022.8hPa TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 19.0C
COMMENT: Wind backed to ESE and dropped well down...