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Day 287 Tues-Wed 16-17 July 2019 GMT Forced to heave to for over 6 hours to avoid problem with Chinese fishing vessels overnight

Tuesday 10:30am LT/Tahiti time (Tues 2030 GMT) A bright day with a few scattered clouds. Wind still fairly light. Pounding into occasional bigger waves from ENE but less so than overnight.

About to make pancakes before shaking out the 2nd reef, despite the likelihood of rain squalls developing over the day being quite high. I'll tie in the reef again later, if it looks as though squalls are beginning to threaten... and certainly overnight, to be safe.

We're still heading slightly off our previous course, in order to be off the wind a little more and keep better speed.

11am Wind up a bit now - making over 5kt - think I'll leave the reef in for time being...

Getting difficult making radio contact on 20m with New Zealand and Australia at this time of day - far better later on. I'm making excellent contact on 20m with Victoria, B.C., just after my sunset (and California also), which time is not much different from there, and the ANZA Net, around the same time and also on 20m, often also works fine from here to Australia.

3pm Vessel 'XIN7804 6V' of 'unknown' type and 'Not defined' status was just over 2 ml off - despite looking out for it for a long time before and after the time of closest approach, I could not spot it. Presumably a fishing vessel since only making a speed of 0.2kt, on a course 325T, just changed to 244T at 1.2kt... Length 0ft; Beam 0ft !! (MMSI 994010198)

Then there's Xin Shi Ji 65 89% (MMSI: 168801305), L 847ft, B 158ft) 6.4ml off making 0.4kt on 301T and similar vessel Xin Shi Ji 65 93% (MMSI: 168801309). A fourth vessel: XIN7804 7V (MMSI: 994010198 - same ID as first vessel? - legally impossible!!), was making 0.6kt on 003T. All within 5-7 miles, one to starboard, one off port beam and one to port astern.

4pm Xin Shi Ji 65 76% (MMSI: 168801301) just popped up on the AIS dsplay - fine on port bow, 6ml off and also Xin Shi Ji 78 100% (MMSI: 168800893), well off to starboard.

We're in the middle of quite a good-sized fishing fleet. I hope they keep clear - they often drag very long lines astern...

According to the chart, there's a 0.5kt current to SW - the South Sub-Tropical Current.

Pressure has dropped quite a lot over last 6 hrs - by 4 hPa to 1007.5hPa now. Wind seems to be dropping - we're only making 4.3kt now.

8:20pm Tahiti time

Vessel ahead: XIN SHI JI 78 96% at 08 45.318S 148 51.013W MMSI: 168800897 LENGTH 847FT COG: keeps varying SOG 0.2kt CPA 3.307 nm, TCPA 34min

Another one, also ahead: XIN SHI JI 78 80% at 08 47.268S 148 44.536W MMSI: 168800892 LENGTH 847FT COG: 153M SOG 0.3kt

I just altered course to head W of N to avoid them and their possible fishing gear lying in my way.... (my present position: 08 49.561S 148 53W)

Suddenly found a third vessel heading E across our path a short distance off - no way to avoid the vessel or its possible gear astern... Having altered course to NNW, we were making over 5kt in 15kt ESE wind...and heading straight to this third vessel... No help from any of them via VHF radio (clearly no English speaking person on board within VHF range, although twice had a brief response to my call) and couldn't pass ahead of this last vessel... No choice but to stop 'Nereida' by heaving to, to avoid possibility of running over their fishing lines and/or gear... Not just a matter of damage to them or their gear - but 'Nereida' could be badly damaged as a result, also...

Midnight Not being able to talk to the fishing vessels to find out if their fishing gear was out or which direction would be safe for us to head to is causing me a major problem now. I spoke to Taupo Maritime Radio (NZ) who contacted their MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre). They gave me the Tahiti JRCC phone number...who finally said that the only safe thing was to stay put until sunrise, when (maybe) the vessels would be pulling in their fishing gear so it might be safe to continue on my way...

I later spoke to NZ MRCC who told me another fishing fleet was 140 ml to our NE! They gave me a Beijing number to call but didn't hold out much hope of a helpful response but a very helpful-sounding, English-speaking person, Zhang, answered and said he'd try to find out about the situation so I could safely continue N past the fishing vessels ahead - I could see the bright lights of a vessel on the horizon not far off.

The big question is whether they have lines out astern overnight and how long those lines are ... so how much clearance will be needed around the vessels to stay safe.. (We can't sail ahead of them because that is too far upwind...)

Problem, even in good daylight, is seeing the baited long lines they might have out that would damage the boat if we try to sail over them.

Waiting to hear back from Zhang - think I need to try to get some sleep in the meantime... We're presently drifting S at 1.5-2kt, having reduced the speed of drift by taking in some genoa.

Tried phoning Zhang to check on situation - "Please phone back in 30 minutes," said another person ... Rang back after 45 minutes... "He's not here - please ring back in 15 minutes....". 3 minutes later , Zhang called me- "Not Chinese - MMSI numbers are wrong - there are no Chinese fishing vessels in your area..."

Spoke to NZ MRCC... two Chinese vessels were nearby just 5 hrs ago - one 10ml to N, other 5 ml to S, both laying lines with AIS transponders - which I'd seen on AIS screen, thinking they were vessels... Back to Zhang in Beijing with the two vessels' MMSI numbers... "Will come back to you," he said... 2am - I'm waiting.... and drifting, hove-to still...

Later: Told by Zhang that one of the vessels was dismantled 5 yrs ago...! (Clearly, another vessel is now using its AIS transponder(s) and had not re-registered it/them...) Pointed out to Zhang that my safety was at risk - I needed to know if lines were out at night and brought in during daytime or vice versa ... He finally got back to me to say he'd spoken to the Capt of the second vessel - "No nets out tonight" to get in my way - so we're finally back underway - at gone 3am...

Unlashed the wheel, gybed round back onto course in 15kt wind from E and unfurled the genoa I'd taken in to lessen our rate of drift while hove to.

Lovely bright moonlit night. Bore away, off the wind a little, to help our speed. Then to my bunk for a little sleep before my interview for a podcast at 6:15am with Eric Guth of QSO Today.. I'll be a bit tired and in need of more sleep after that!

8:30am Interview went fine...will be posted later today.

Good wind at times but up and down in cloudy conditions - big grey cloud astern with rain falling in places. Speed somewhere between 3.2kt and 4.9kt - averaging around 4kt. Choppy seas on top of swell so boat being moved around a lot.

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A Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus) pair came visiting the other day - maybe from one of the Kiribati islands not so far away. Seems Noddies are the oldest type of tern. (Excerpt here is slightly adapted from 'Neotropical Birds'):

Noddies are peculiar terns; first of all they look like a negative image of a tern. Instead of a white bird with a black cap, we have a dark bird with a white cap. The Black Noddy ... the slightly larger Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus) ... . Second of all they have a peculiar name which derives from one of their breeding displays in which the members of the pair nod at each other. Noddies are tropical terns, nesting in colonies on islands, sometimes well offshore. The Brown and Black Noddy nest in the Caribbean Sea and the tropical Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Noddies depend on large predatory fish, such as tunas, to drive bait fish to the surface where they become accessible to the birds. Unlike most terns, noddies do not dive in the water, they pick food off the water’s surface, or they may plunge into the water without fully submersing. Genetic data shows that the noddies are the oldest branch in the tern family tree, explaining why some behaviours, plumage and even morphology are so different from more typical terns.

(Thanks, Peter!)

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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!

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1900GMT (= 9 a.m. LT = Tahiti time) - end of Day 287. We made 64 n.ml. DMG, measured in a straight line between the two 1900GMT positions. Over six hours spent hove-to or slowed down.

Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 287 (by daily DMGs): 23,316 n.ml.

Distances (at 1700GMT): East Cape, N.Z.: 2477 n.ml. to SW; Papeete, Tahiti: 538 n.ml. to S; Honolulu: 1862 n.ml. to NNW

Position, as posted to www.Winlink.org and www.Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):

TIME: 2019/07/17 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 09-36.42S LONGITUDE: 148-57.44W

COURSE: 019T SPEED: 4.9kt

WIND_SPEED: 13kt WIND_DIR: ENE SWELL_DIR: ENE SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 60%

BARO: 1010.6hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 31.0C SEA_TEMP: 36.0C

COMMENT: Underway after 6hr stop for Chinese fishing vessels. Raincloud astern.

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