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Day 34 from Cape Town to Hobart - winds up to 48kt as Cold Front comes by

Sunday 11th March 2012

Recovering from last night's weather...!

Surfing, and just about keeping going by 1600Z (oh-so-dark 11pm!).... The 28-34 kt winds of earlier had become consistent 35-38kt winds and 5-6+ m seas, which I'd put astern for more comfort. Suddenly they became 44-48kt winds as the expected Cold Front came through with its windshift - all got rather nasty, nail-biting stuff...! But we survived and made up on sleep over today - so I'm feeling much better now!

Radiio communication is very difficult just now, due, I hear, to a massive solar flare disrupting things. Hopefully, propagation should improve over the next few days and get less noisy than at present. Made no contact whatsoever, 'nothing heard', with the S.African Maritime Mobile Net at local midday, although yesterday Graham, ZS2ABK, was very clear. Did finally manage to connect this afternoon with Petr, OK4SNG, on 'Singa' - but noise was so bad on frequency that we had to give up - tomorrow may be better. One result of the solar flare is that the 'Aurora Australis' - a moving 'curtain' of light - is supposed to be visible now - but with recent overcast skies at night, I've not been lucky enough to see any display.

Went on deck earlier to screw in one particular screw on the stays'l pole end that was sticking way out again - leaning outboard on the pole felt definitely at risk, as we rolled about in 4-5m seas! We're expecting very little wind later tomorrow, so I'm hoping then to lower the pole (we're on a run at present) and deal with it. From advice I've received from John, VK4DBJ, in Queensland, Australia, sounds as though I should remove the end, if possible, to smear Duralac on it, put a touch into the screw holes also, before screwing back the screws with Loctite on their thread. I also thought I'd run some amalgamating/pressure tape around the pole end, over all the screw heads, to hold them in and stop them from even thinking of moving... He commented that the pole ends are normally screwed in place to allow servicing inside from time to time.

Oops! ... Wind has been around 20 kt since midday - but just went shooting up to 30kt - no moon visible in overcast sky, so difficult to see anything - must be a 'cloud effect' (squall) - hopefully will soon die down again.. We're supposed to be into lessening winds over the next day or so, as a High drops down over us... Yes, back down to 20 kt again... good! Didn't last long.

Last night, around 3.30am LT, after gybing the mains'l and getting us back on course in pleasanter winds of just 25kt, I realised it was near 2130GMT - so thought I'd see if I could connect in with Tony's Net on 14315 kHz - an Aussie/Kiwi mix of friendly radio amateurs I'd last chatted to two years ago when I was near Australia and N.Z. To my surprise, I connected - not too well, but enough to pass on greetings and my position... I think the guy who heard me was also surprised when he realised just where I was!

We've moved into yet another time zone now - GMT + 7 hrs. My midday GMT position and weather report occurs as darkness is falling - after sunset...

DMG: 134 n.ml. Cape Leeuwin: 908 n.ml. to ENE; Hobart (due E): 2190 sailing miles away.

Written by : Mike

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