Day 29 ..... SLOW! .... and VHF problem shows up.....

Sunday 14th November

Relaxing in sunshine today, coasting along in gentle swell, making 4.5kt occasionally, mostly 3.2-3.8 kt... in 7-8 kt of wind. Plenty of solar power getting in to the batteries....

Checked in to the Baja Net and was pleased to make several contacts.

Played music... and sang along to the Gypsy Kings' "El Mariachi Desperado" & the ballads of Juan Luis Cobo (from Zihuatanejo) - both highly appropriate when passing the coast of Mexico, as I am! Also Gordon Lightfoot, Jimmy Buffet, Pink Martini, Josh Groban, ... and other favourites. (It's good having my iPod connected to the radio speakers. I have two iPods - one for light music and one for classical.) I sat in the cockpit barefoot, feeling thoroughly lazy, with a mug of fresh coffee... It felt like a proper Sunday! One of the songs that came up was "You've Got to Have a Dream" (from 'S. Pacific')... absolutely!

Had to pole out the genoa overnight with the wind backing more into the north and we're virtually dead downwind now, but Fred, the Hydrovane, is coping fine... 7-8 kt of wind, SOG 3.2-3.8 kt, occasionally 4.3 kt! At this rate, the ITCZ is well over a week away... our daily runs are unlikely even to get up to 100 ml a day at this speed. I'm often needing to adjust our course with the wind continually swinging about.

Finally got out the electric drill & did a couple of small but important jobs I'd been wanting to do, ready for rough/bad weather coming up again in the weeks ahead - I put up another hook in the head, ready to take wet jackets etc. And I added a fixture to hold the top of my chart table seat leecloth in place - ready for being heeled well over to port in rougher weather. (Another 'fix' that hadn't been made strongly enough - as it turned out on this trip.) The canvas has been forever slipping down, so becoming useless to hold me in place.

At 2pm, I suddenly noticed a ship clearly visible on the horizon well astern of us - no collision danger, so no AIS alarm had gone off. I called the 'NYK Laura' several times on my VHF - no answer, so I used my handheld to call - I was answered... I asked if they'd mind me doing a radio check on the VHF - we tried Ch 06 which we'd just switched to and also Ch 16. Each time they heard me on the handheld but not on the ship's main VHF radio - as I'd suspected from my encounter with the tug and fuel barge the other night. So that's another item to add to the ongoing joblist.... A good thing the handheld is convenient, in its holder and always charged.

Wind has died right down this evening and keeps varying in direction - to just 5-6 knots, anywhere from NNE - ENE, boatspeed down to 2.2 knots regularly...

We're 920 n.ml. W of Islas Marias, off the Mexican coast - the largest of the islands has a prison and the warning is not to get too close on passing by on the coastal route south... and to ignore anyone seen swimming in the waters thereabouts...!!

24hr run to this morning's (noon UTC) position: 127 n.ml. ... tomorrow's will be a lot less!

Written by : Mike

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