Day 33 from Cape Town to Hobart - wind slowly gets up, ready for the next Cold Front

Saturday 10th March 2012

Believe I saw Mercury bright just above the W horizon last night, soon after the sun had set - I'm not sure I've ever seen it before, possibly just once or twice, despite looking many times! It's only usually visible for a maximum of about half an hour around sunrise or sunset. In the E, was the bright moon, shining like a floodlight - was easily able to set the staysail on its pole and sheet out the prevented mainsail by its light! The wind had died and we were slopping about in the still quite big swell - yuck!

Fortunately, by 3am LT, the wind was a little better, so we were making just under 5 kt, instead of the 2-3 kt of before....losing some to current/tide.

TC Koji, off NW Australia. looked at one stage as if it might come south along 100E to get in our way but fortunately got "shunted west and should now go south along 80E so is no worry," Bob McD tells me. It's cyclone season and there have been several so far to keep an eye on, whose remnants have headed down this way.... usually petering out to a depression, with rain but no Cold Front associated with it.

By 11am, wind had increased to around a fairly consistent 24kt, so felt 2nd reef needed to go in ... Had a slight problem getting it in, but managed it .... and almost immediately, the wind died back down to 17 kt... By 1.30pm LT/0730GMT, it was back up to 25kt... Yet another Cold Front approaching, with strong NW winds ahead of it.

Went to the mast to see why a problem with taking in reef - 3rd batten end has come adrift and is no longer connected to the car in the mast track. A small ring holds the pin in place that keeps the car attached - the ring was missing and clearly the pin had lifted sufficiently to allow the car attachment to come free - I don't know how the pin stayed in the fitting, but fortunately it did - so I need to find another item (split ring or wire maybe) to hold the pin in place when I get the chance to re-attach the batten car - I need to lower the sail a bit more, either after taking in the third reef or in calm conditions , in order to sort it out. For the moment, it's OK to leave it. (I'd puzzled over a tiny, rusty ring I found on deck over a week ago but didn't recognise where it had came from.. pity!)

With the wind consistently getting up to near 30knots, I decided to try heaving to with just the second reef in - just to see how it went. Worked fine, except the wind died down....! After staying put for about an hour, which felt like a lot longer, with wind still way down, I decided to get going.... with the third reef taken in, now, since strong wind expected... Sure enough, having decided not to stay hove-to any longer, the wind piped way up - to around 30+ soon after I sailed off. From NW to NNW.... I changed course slightly to head more off the wind in the biggish seas now running - felt a lot better but takes us more S. After the Front, winds should back to SW so I'll be able to gybe onto starboard tack and lay my course again. I don't want to end up too far S.

Soon after, I realized I'd not tensioned the running backstay ... rushed up to do it quickly... got doused with saltwater ... no jacket & no hat.... damn! TG I still had on my overtrousers! Have changed out of wet top, had some nice hot stew and put on hot air heating (Eberspacher works even in rough seas and heeled over) - feels lovely to have some warmth - things have not been drying in the damp , cold air (air temp is 15C) While it was calmer, earlier in the day, I'd taken out the backstay tensioners and re-run them - they'd got completely twisted and were becoming impossible to tension or release -another small-but-important job done!

Not sure when I'll get to my bunk - thinking I'll wait for the Front to come through, so I'm ready for the windshift from the present NNW towards SW. Being able to have the Raymarine AP in 'windvane' mode is a definite bonus - if a wind shift occurs, it beeps at me - often very irritating if not downright annoying, but in this instance, perfect for warning me of a major Frontal windshift imminent...

DMG today: 104 n.ml (with very light wind overnight and being hove-to for 1-2hours). Cape Leeuwin is 1020 n.ml. to the NE and we've 2323 n.ml. of sailing to get to Hobart - almost due E. As I get ready to post this, wind keeps gusting up to 34 knots - should reduce once Front has passed over.

Written by : Mike

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