Day 31 from Cape Town to Hobart - more pleasant sailing, seas and wind up a bit

Thursday 8th March 2012

5pm LT (1100GMT) Just finished a fresh apple - lovely! Stood in companionway, watching a few petrels flying around... realised I've not seen any of the much larger, dark, White-chinned petrels for several days now. A Royal albatross was gliding around regally this morning! Sun is getting low in sky now - has often been getting out from behind broken clouds. It's been feeling relatively warm today.

Gazed around... tightened a bottle-screw on the port quarter.... Then noticed screws sticking out from close to end of stays'l pole,..... supposed to be holding jaw in place! Had to fetch a short screw-driver and lean out to end of pole (fortunately being stays'l, not too far out!) to tighten screws... I thought those fittings were normally rivetted in place? Will have to watch that carefully... We're almost on a dead run (DDW) just now, so don't want to have to lower pole unless essential. Felt a bit precarious with the fair-sized swell running now and us rolling about quite often! Furled in the small bit of genoa that was out - not doing anything, blanketed by other sails.

Earlier today, made good contact with Pacific Seafarers Net - Jane & Randy in Hawaii seem still to have fair copy on me - I certainly heard them fine - an amazing distance away! Tried to make contact at 0400GMT/10amLT with Czech Petr on 'Singa' but nothing heard - I think timing was wrong for 20m band - we need to try later in the day. No problem talking to Canadian Greg on 40m at 0630GMT each day - but he's less than 500 mls away. (He had 35knots of wind today, compared with my 20 knots. He's still trying hard to get further N & has had 7-8m seas - it's not nice, down where he is at 46S! Similarly, Petr has also had v.strong conditions - he's at 47S)

Just had to start genset to charge batteries - first time since dawn, so wind and sun have done well up to now. Wind had been consistently just under 20 kts overnight, but over the day today has been a bit stronger & gusting up at times, so around 20-25+ kt, giving good boat speed. Heading ESE-SE, trying to get further S, ready for High pressure area expected to drop way S early next week - guaranteeing us some calms, I think.

Time for my midday (GMT) position & weather report... every day at 1200GMT, posted to www.Winlink.org and linked in to my website to show my track there ('Travels' page) It's always interesting to see how much further I've sailed over the 24hr period... but it's now sunset, not midday, where I am - gets a bit confusing at times! I'm forever setting alarms to prevent me missing times for weatherfaxes and radio 'scheds', etc... There goes one now ....

The swell has definitely increased today - we're regularly rolling a lot. Gauging the height of swell for my report is always a challenge. It's supposed to be the average of the greatest one third of distances from crests to troughs. I imagine tall people (2m high!) standing on the water surface(!) & my stern steelwork is also about 2m high to the solar panels. I imagine looking out from upstairs windows of a house to the ground below, assuming rooms are about 3-4m (10-12ft) high so from a first-floor window, my eyes would be roughly 5m (16ft) from ground level and from a second-floor window, about 8-9m (well over 25ft) ... not unusual for swell that high here in the Southern Ocean, with or without strong wind - it comes from the deep Lows further S and W. I think I generally under-estimate heights of the really big swell we get here. The timing is from crest to crest - it's easy to feel the 'lift' as we go over a crest.

The sky was clear overhead with a layer over to the E and a thick layer of grey of cloud in the W-SW, now spreaing over this way. A mild Cold Front should be passing over quite soon (pressure has been dropping as it gets closer) and winds will then back to the SW from their present W.

(Barometric 'trend' is change in pressure over previous 3 hrs)

Today's 1200GMT report:

TIME: 2012/03/08 12:00 LAT: 40-47.45S LONG: 090-48.76E
COURSE: 115T SPEED: 5.5
WIND_SPEED: 22 WIND_DIR: WNW
SWELL_DIR: W SWELL_HT: 5.0M SWELL_PER: 7
CLOUDS: 50% BARO: 1016 TREND: 0
AIR_TEMP: 19.0C SEA_TEMP: 16.0C
COMMENT: Good sailing today but seas bigger. DMG:126 n.ml.

Now all I have to do is to get a radio connection to send this off... Bye for now!

1500 GMT POSTSCRIPT - Cold Front came through at 1420GMT!...Rain with it and wind is now from SW-SSW at 22kt so we're heading East on a beam reach at 6knots!

Written by : Mike

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