Wednesday 2:30pm NZT (Tues 0230GMT) I felt very fortunate to be able to see most of the major part of the solar eclipse this morning - there was cloud around the sun but, especially close to sunrise, I was able to see a good amount of the sun in darkness - at 5:45am NZT, over 2/3 was covered (top down) and, by 6:30am NZT, the lower right hand portion of the sun was obscured - just under 1/4. Then the sun disappeared behind a long line of grey cloud.
I was about to write about the small white fluffy clouds seen around midday and how nice it was not to have any rain clouds in sight ... and here we are back in a band of rain clouds... Wind is gusting up to 30kt, as it seems to do every time under the clouds (and often away from them) and seas are consistently 4m/13ft and really close together. At just a 5-6 second interval, they get very steep-faced and toss us around so we heel over a lot as we go up and down on them. None of which is made any better by beating into the strong wind and seas, trying to make a NE course in the ESE wind. The Maramu wind is making itself felt and will be around for a few more days yet. If the forecast is correct, conditions might have eased a little in 4 days' time.
Was lovely to catch sight of a pair of birds flying very close together, keeping pace with each other exactly as they wheeled around astern of Nereida - a courtship ritual?
Every so often, the sky clears to a deep clear blue with a bright sun and I really feel we're getting closer to the Tropics... The Tropic of Capricorn is not too far off now - about two and a half days away, near Tubuai, the first of the Austral group of islands. Sea temperature has risen to 25.8C/78F and the air is consistently over 20C/68F now. Pressure is very high, at 1030hPa.
3:30pm Sun is almost ready to set. Seas and wind are well up - 25kt with 30kt gusts - and we're heeled over... then there'll be another lull - down to 20kt. It gets very difficult to move around and function normally when the seas are so rough like this so much of the time.
Thursday 2:15am NZT (Wed 1415GMT) Speed had dropped well down so, with no big clouds around to cause the drop in speed, unfurled a fair amount of genoa to try to speed us up. Had also tried to adjust our course before that, being well downwind of our planned course, but seems we were actually heading fairly close to the wind already so that didn't work - wind has clearly backed a little more so we're now headed closer to Rurutu than to Tubuai. Might have to furl in the genoa again if wind picks up but it seems to have dropped to below 20kt just now.
Southern Cross 'pointers' are low astern, off to starboard, and stars are strewn across the sky - very little cloud to be seen. I spent some time enjoying the night scene in the gentler conditions Back to my bunk....
6am It's very nice to chat daily with cruisers in Polynesia and Fiji/Tonga on their daily radio Nets. They're mostly in places I've cruised to previously so it's good to hear them - brings back happy memories of my time spent where they are now!
6:40am NZT The wind just got up to 25kt (a cloud was close by), after being just under 20kt for a time, so we were suddenly speeding along and heeled over - but the extra genoa I unfurled overnight was not a problem, I was relieved to see. But now, wind has died right down and we're creeping along at 2.5kt, waiting for it to come back up - forecast is for winds of 20-25kt today so what we're experiencing is yet another 'cloud effect', it seems. Very frustrating - we're either under-canvassed in the lulls or just about coping OK in the gusts - resulting in a low daily DMG. Would be really nice to get a more consistent wind so as to get in better daily distances made good.
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 273. We made 82 n.ml. DMG, measured in a straight line between the two 1900GMT positions. Yet another slow day with occasional strong gusts....
Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 273 (by daily DMGs):22,194 n.ml
Distances (at 1900GMT): East Cape, N.Z.: 1603 n.ml. to SW; Tahiti: 536 n.ml. to NNE; Tubuai (Iles Australes): 246 n.ml. to NE; Rurutu (Iles Australes):232 n.ml. to NNE.
Position, as posted to www.Winlink.org and www.Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):
TIME: 2019/07/03 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 26-07.63S LONGITUDE: 152-54.15W
COURSE: 040T SPEED: 4.3kt
WIND_SPEED: 22kt WIND_DIR: ESE SWELL_DIR: ESE SWELL_HT: 4.0m CLOUDS: 80%
BARO: 1028.6hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 21.0C SEA_TEMP: 26.0C
COMMENT: Gusty, cloudy day again... Expect wind to 25kt for next few days still