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Day 32 - Close ship encounter in darkness of night

Friday 26th November 2010 (Day 32)

Had a great radio session Thursday afternoon, at 2.30pm PST on 14305 kHz, with lots of 'Happy Thanksgiving' and other exchanges with people as far apart as Ontario in Canada and the Baja in Mexico - all very enjoyable! Followed it up later with fresh smoked salmon steak for dinner, followed by some of Barbara's (VE7KLU) 'wine jelly' with cream cheese on crackers.

We've had to put in several tacks to keep heading S. Lost the fair current that's been so helpful for making Easting over last few days.. Got very wet in rain overnight earlier - had to change clothes - I'm running two sets - but minimal items involved, these days! Fortunately, the last time I'd put my salopettes on - so when a wave 'dumped' on me, my lower parts stayed dry... but not, of course, my hair, unfortunately...

Crossed paths overnight with the 'Darya Lakshmi' , headed to Qingdao in China, (20 days' passage!) - no response on VHF until within 4 mls - just 15 mins away from passing within a mile of us - too close for comfort, with our course varying with the wind, as it was.... They had 'Nereida' on their AIS and said they'd keep well clear... We were very close-hauled in the black darkness and banging into quite big seas and 18t of S wind. Eventually spoke to very friendly First Officer who later sent me DSC messages of good wishes for my journey from all the crew and the Capt offered fresh provisions!! (I explained why I couldn't accept - but thanked him for his kind offer!) It all ended up as a very enjoyable encounter, but had me very worried initially, getting no response to my many VHF calls and feeling obliged to light up my sails with the deck light and add the lower navigation lights to my masthead tricolour. Too often in that situation, I have visions of someone fast asleep at the ship's bridge, or simply not keeping a good lookout! I was due to check in to the Pacific Seafarers Net at that time & they stood by to make sure all ended well.

With slightly calmer seas during the day, I was able to tidy up - a few things always manage to land on the cabin sole in bumpy conditions, such as we've had the last two days or so, and it's nice to get back to being 'shipshape'. It also meant I was able to get back to the autopilot repair. I've now finished running the new wire from the replacement rudder reference unit to the course computer and replaced the unit itself but I've not yet powered the unit up by connecting at the course computer - it was getting late and time for a meal. I'm in no rush since the wind steering is working fine and I should have storm-free conditions for quite a time yet... I also want to confirm with Raymarine UK that everything is fine before I power up - I don't want to damage my only spare unit so I'm being ultra-cautious!

DMG to Friday morning was just 64n.ml., rather than the well over 110 ml actually travelled - reflecting the tacks we've had to put in, due to the generally southerly wind.

We're almost equidistant from San Diego, the Galapagos Islands and the Gulf of Tehuantepec in Mexico!

Remember to check my 'Travels' page to see my track on a map... each red 'blob' shows my daily position at noon UTC ( 4am PST - my 'local' time!).

Written by : Mike

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