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Friday 6th May 2011 Difficult weather ahead - but today we finally completed a circumnavigation - we 'closed the loop'....!

Been spending an age downloading and looking over weather info and options and plotting points/routes on chart to see Implications.... none very good or pleasant!! Basically, although it's pretty rough now, it's going to get even rougher - ESE gale is very likely, offshore from Cape Town on 7th-8th May (later Sat into Sun) with 5-8m seas possible.... Even trying to avoid that area means a bit of a detour to the north and west of my preferred course and still probably getting strong winds, although hopefully not as strong, and bigger seas than at present but, again, hopefully not as big as in the gale area..... All the result of a Low coming S down the coast and squashing against the High I'm in at present, which will have moved further S.

I've decided to go for the less severe option, expecting even then to have to heave to again sometime tomorrow and overnight into Sunday possibly, when the winds increase and/or swells get too much for comfort.... or simply to avoid going too far north. It should only add less than a day, frustrating though that is...!! To add into the equation is the fact of the strong N-setting Benguela current - up to 6knots, I've been informed. Even though the 6kt sounds to me like an extreme (an eddy, maybe?) the current is still strong enough not to be ignored... The prevailing wisdom is always to approach Cape Town from the SW so as not to be swept too far N by it ... My ETA into Cape Town will hopefully be no later than 11th May... all depending on the exact weather conditions encountered, the route I end up taking and how long I heave to, if I do...

Time for a late breakfast after a peek up on deck to how we're doing and to see what birds are around ..... I think I've exhausted looking at all possible permutations and combinations of options on my route....!

Around 11am GMT, under a bright sunny sky, witnessed by a pair of circling albatross, several petrels and a pair of shearwaters, we crossed our December 2nd 2009 path south from Lanzarote towards Cape Town - so we've now well and truly circled the globe .... from Cape Town, around Cape of Good Hope and Cape Agulhas, past Cape Leeuwin, through Bass Strait and Cook Strait to Kauai, on to Cape Flattery (Pacific US/Canada), S from Victoria, B.C. to Cape Horn, to Ushuaia, on to Falklands, .... and back now towards Cape Town - weather gods permitting .....

1400 GMT report:

LAT: 37-08S LONG: 010-02E COURSE: 040T SPEED: 5.5
BARO: 1030 TREND: 0
COMMENT: Wind killed to 12kt by cloud, then picked up again to 20kt! Distance to Cape Town 453 n.ml.

Just around sunset, we left the rainclouds behind and the sky overhead cleared completely ... to show a lovely crescent moon hanging above the sea.... some bright stars.... and the wind even died down a bit for a time, giving some relaxing sailing in less swell, for a change! The swell seems to be mainly from the
SE, making us lurch often when a crest hits, but also sometimes from the SW (astern).

The wind should stay around 20kt or so now, until around sunset tomorrow, when it's expected to start increasing to give strong conditions overnight and over Sunday- I could well heave to then to maintain position and/or make life more bearable if it's getting too rough! We'll see then what that Low gets up to... If I'm really lucky, the weather people have got it all wrong and that Low will dissipate or head S out of my way quickly so I can get in to Cape Town more directly ... and sooner... (In my dreams!)

Written by : Mike

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