Friday 10am Tahiti/Hawaii time (Fri 2000 GMT) On a broad reach, struggling to make 2.5 kt. Sky completely covered with grey cloud and there's a good 2m swell from SSE with another swell from E.
11:40am Suddenly I realise we've picked up speed - go up on top - grey cloud ahead to port and light rain. Making 5.5kt with apparent wind just abaft the beam - from ESE, so SE true wind. Not a lot and will probably die down soon enough... Already seeing some blue patches to starboard and we're slowing down.
Have been busy in galley, clearing/cleaning and preparing bean and barley soup plus discovered a last onion hidden in the papers in the onion crate that I thought was empty and had brought aft to clean out. So the very last fresh onion has been chopped up to add into the 'hearty soup' I'm making - diced ham and some green beans to be added very soon, once dried white beans have finished cooking in pressure cooker.
11:50am Speed down to 2.5kt again, blades of windgen hardly turning - so wind down to 6-7 kt now.... Struggling to keep on course and make way. Sun beginning to get out.
2pm Took in a good amount of genoa ten minutes ago, looking ahead at a dark grey raincloud with rain falling ... Also changed course to try to pass it upwind, having not long before been rushing along at around 7kt, as another big area of cloud passed overhead, giving us strong wind to sail at speed for a change. This is why I've kept the first reef in, as we pass through this area of frequent rain clouds... We were not over-powered as the first rain cloud passed by - not over-heeled, although reaching 8kt a couple of times... But that had no rain, whereas this next one did have - so I was a bit wary and took in some headsail so as not to be caught out.
As it is, we're down now to around 5kt so, if there are no other threatening dark clouds ahead upwind, it's time to unfurl some of the genoa to speed up again while we can.
2:30pm Another wide band of rain clouds ahead, so will keep genoa part-furled until past them - easy to let out but takes time to get in...
Had a lot of rain under a big area of raincloud with strong wind - furled in genoa a lot more but managed with just the one reef - so wind must have stayed under 30kt although we were well-heeled over as we sped along at around 6 kt or more for quite a time.
After that, winds were light, so progress was very slow again. Kept checking wind direction to see if we could make any more Easting - don't want not to be able to make Oahu/Kauai (Hawaii) because of wind angle not working out in NE Trades.
8:30pm Several good radio sessions this evening, including to Victoria, B.C. Always nice to chat to other cruisers on maritime frequencies but there was also very good propagation to Australia tonight on 20m so had quick chats with several people I know on the amateur ANZA Net on 14183kHz - very enjoyable.
Heard from friends with Internet that the Taiwanese fishing vessels I've been trying to steer clear of are off to the NE and well out of the way - for over a day, probably - good news, so I was able to relax for the time being. There's another group of fishing vessels closer to the Equator, due N of here, so will need to keep an eye on them over the next two days.
Saturday 12.45am Tahiti/Hawaii time (Sat 1045 GMT) Was sitting up late, beyond midnight, having just finished some emails, and went to check on our progress. Suddenly realised we were heeling and accelerating.... A squall!
Jumped up on deck to furl in some genoa, cursing myself for forgetting to do that around sunset, as I'd intended to, for overnight... Went to take in on genoa sheet (control line) but saw I'd not furled enough in - so back to other side of cockpit to furl in more, then back again to tension the sheet. A dark night with the moon behind a lot of thick cloud so not giving its usual helpful light.
Being close-hauled, trying to make as best a course as possible, means that's really important to get right - if we're too close to the wind, the genoa will luff up (flaps madly!), the wind gets behind it, and we'd end up effectively heaving to, if I let it happen, but I keep us going around in a circle (gybing), until I get us back on course. Happens especially easily in very light winds with the usual good 2m swell knocking us about - far too often... very frustrating with the frequent wind shifts giving no warning...
After things calmed down finally, I left the genoa furled in and got to my bunk.
7am Making fair progress in gusty conditions under scattered light clouds with plenty of sunshine. Wind not very strong, maybe around 10kt, and determinedly from ENE, so still not able to make our hoped-for NNE heading, now we've passed the Taiwanese vessels E of here.
Weather outlook is for stronger wind in a couple of days' time but expect to keep ENE wind until then - damn! Not much sign of any good ESE wind before almost reaching the Equator, hopefully 3 days away, but it should then hold ESE until around 7N, when we'll be getting close to the squally, unpredictable ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone).
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, 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!
(I hear that some readers might need to talk to their bank BEFORE trying to make a donation to the RNLI since many US banks routinely block foreign transactions unless
they are notified in advance.)
1900GMT (= 9 a.m. LT = Tahiti time) - end of Day 290. We made 101 n.ml. DMG, measured in a straight line between the two 1900GMT positions.
Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 290 (by daily DMGs): 23,540 n.ml.
Distances (at 1700GMT): East Cape, N.Z.: 2628 n.ml. to SW; Papeete, Tahiti: 754 n.ml. to S; Honolulu: 1748 n.ml. to NNW
Position, as posted to www.Winlink.org and www.Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):
TIME: 2019/07/20 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 04-58.88S LONGITUDE: 149-26.80W
COURSE: 347T SPEED: 4.2kt
WIND_SPEED: 10kt WIND_DIR: ENE SWELL_DIR: NE SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 60%
BARO: 1012.6hPa TREND: 2 AIR_TEMP: 30.0C SEA_TEMP: 36.0C
COMMENT: Wind backed still, so can't make preferred NNE