Day 27 from Stanley, E. Falkland, to Cape Town - lovely sunshine & lots of birds...

Sunday 1st of May 2011 ....... Happy May Day to one and all!

9am Blue sky with fluffy little cumulus clouds in lines along wind direction - just like 'Trade wind' clouds. A big, long swell - easily 4m or more high and far apart (9 sec period) - must have come from a deep Low to the W. Wind keeps varying, as does the generally very helpful current (beginning of the Benguela current? It certainly feels cold and damp inside the boat...).

Big flock of prions wheeling around .. and among the other birds, an enormous Tristan (Wandering) albatross - it has a wingspan of over 11ft!

Been trying to connect on radio for ages to do emailing but no joy, despite what look like lots of good possibilities - propagation clearly not good just now! It's amazing how many people turn a blind eye to the plea at the end of many of my emails NOT to return my email (and explanatory footnote) with their reply, hitting the 'reply' button regardless - with propagation so awful just now, the last thing I need is a short reply, perhaps, with my email and a long footnote (added by the central server) attached to it....!! And it also takes a lot of battery power to operate the radio .... so just trying to get connected often runs my batteries right down - I had to start the genset today, with the light winds not giving us any windpower input to the house batteries.

1400 GMT report (Links to maps on 'Travels' page on website):

LAT: 39-45S LONG: 003-17W COURSE: 084T SPEED: 4.5
WIND_SPEED: 12 WIND_DIR: SW SWELL_DIR: WSW SWELL_HT: 4.0M
CLOUDS: 3% BARO: 1024 TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 17.0C

Gorgeous, sunny 1st of May! Distance to Cape TownT: 1097 n.ml.

Later in the day, grey rainclouds gathered to W (astern) and to S, but although some came overhead, we managed to avoid the showers - they stayed visible but in the distance.. Can't complain, with the lovely clear blue sky we'd had for several hours before that.

Wind died even more near evening - to 7-8 knots - and was WSW-SW - so coming from well abaft the beam ... I tried to goosewing the genoa... didn't really work without being poled out, mainly because of the big W swell still coming towards us,which kept making us roll a lot... but as I played with the sheet winch, a jazzy Cape Petrel came flying past - so distinctive in its black & white plumage....

When we dropped to 2.5kt boatspeed, time had come to turn on the engine and motorsail. The wind is forecast to stay very light for at least another day or so, as we pass through an area of High pressure which has come over us, in between the Lows.... that's the way of things, hereabouts .. either lots... or little...! I've checked our diesel - plenty to be able to turn on the 'iron sail' whenever I fancy, to avoid flopping about in the light wind and calms we're going to get a lot of, for sure, in the next week or so, according to all the forecasts..... Tomorrow, if the swell has died down a bit (it stayed up all day long and we were rolling about a lot), I'll be able to refuel the main tank from the jerrycans I carry.... A fairly easy task with the filler cap right beside the cockpit locker which houses the jerry cans, especially using the little 12V pump I have ready for the transfer, meaning I don't need to hump the cans around.... I had an enjoyable day, in fact, shaking out reefs and playing around with the sails in the shifting light winds and sunshine - 'messing about on the water' .... the song always comes to mind, it's so apt!

The wind is now (11pm) SE 6kt so we're now close-reaching and having to fall off our course a bit in order to keep up a decent speed and not luff up...

I had to disconnect the plotter late this afternoon - I noticed it was misbehaving - undid all connections, cleaned them up, re-connected ... now behaving fine...! An easy, if time-consuming, fix!!

Written by : Mike

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