Monday 29th November 2010 - Day 35
We crossed the Equator at 0825 PST - headed S towards Cape Horn (ETA around New Year 2011). Last time we crossed, I was headed N from New Zealand to Hawaii on 28th June - almost exactly 5 months ago!
About 40 ml N of Equator last night, I noticed that we were losing speed to current - around half a knot. The W-going equatorial current was no longer helping us - pity! It hadn't lasted as long as expected. We continued to lose speed - by the time we were 15 ml S of the Equator, and for the rest of the day, we were losing a knot to current .... that will cut down Tuesday morning's daily run by about 20 ml.
As I was about to cross the Equator, I was talking to Raymarine UK, checking over my AP settings, prior to testing the system with the new rudder sensor unit. Reefs had been shaken out overnight and we were under full sail. I suddenly realized the latitude had gone from N to S - looked at the sea - no line to be seen (!) - but we were greeted across by the strengthening wind heeling us under cloudy skies .. I needed to tie in the first reef to be better balanced! The AP seemed to be behaving but I needed to reef the mains'l.... we agreed to wait for an hour or so ... Of course, once I'd reefed, the wind died back down....typical! In the calmer conditions, under a clear sky, all seemed fine - the wheel wasn't moving much, but it didn't need to...
On being called again, I confirmed all seemed to be OK .... but 3 hrs later, having shaken out the reef, .... more cloud, strengthening wind .... and AP stopped coping - 'Off course' and then 'Drive stopped' messages kept popping up... things were no longer looking good! Soon after midday, I reefed back down again, hoping that would help matters - tried AP on 'Track' .. but things were no better....couldn't hold the course and kept going down .... grrr!! Back onto wind steering - I put Fred in charge... and went down below to get a late brunch...
I'd hoped to deal with VHF external speaker connections today, but now decided to leave that to another day - we were heeling and moving quite a bit in a fair swell and that makes life difficult getting to fiddly wiring connections...
I celebrated my Equator crossing later - lovely clear blue sky, sailing well, although still losing a knot to current - played music all afternoon and sang along to it, in between treating myself to some favourite foods - enjoyable! Gave Neptune a tipple - of mango juice - in thanks for a safe journey!!! (Probably the first time ever that he's tasted that!!)
Had an enjoyable session on 14305 at 2.30 pm PST after my usual check-in to M.M.Net on 14300 beforehand. Randy, KH6RC, came up to congratulate me on crossing 'the line' (He'd also heard me saying that the AP was still playing up & wanted to find out more) and then Steve, VA7SKM, and Tom, K4XV, both 'stopped by' for a chat.... It's always nice when people come on frequency to meet up.
Later, on the Pacific Seafarers Net, there was some discussion on how much they hoped to be able to keep in contact as I head further S. Randy had already said he should be able to stay in touch all the way to the Horn, and Paul, VK2HMV, and others in Australia and N.Z., said the same, with several saying they should be able to pick me up between S. Africa and Aus, on my way back to the Pacific next year. A good bunch of nice, friendly people, very concerned for my safety & well-being... Thanks for being there!
24hr DMG was 134 n.ml. up to Monday morning (noon UTC!) - not too bad, with only a few hours of foul current over that time, cancelled out by some fair current earlier.
Sunday 28th November 2010 (Day 34)
11am Finishing leisurely b'fast! Checked into Amigo, Chubasco and Baja Nets earlier - all very
friendly & caught up with a boatfriend for a chat as a result. Looking over, & downloading,
weatherfaxes and ordering more grib files for new sailing area ahead. Looking at Chile and NZ
weatherfax schedules to become familiar with what's on offer and when. Presently using KVM70 in
Honolulu for weatherfaxes, having used NMC at Pt Reyes when further north.
Sun getting out - light grey overcast giving way to well-broken white clouds - pleasant day. Cool
enough (26C) to add another short-sleeved cotton top to my cotton vest. Batteries are right up with
good wind and sun - just over 14 volts when fridge not running and 13.5V when it is - fantastic!
Solar panels putting in 10-16A at present. (Later: Had to turn off the wind generator for a time -
we were taking batteries up too high - amazing!)
Swell knocking us from time to time, heeling a bit , but nothing too bad! Speed (SOG) 5.5-6.3kt, wind has swung to ESE from SSE of earlier, so course is now 190T - we're under wind steering and
closehauled, so as wind changes, so does our course but since that's becoming more S, that's fine.
Still have two reefs in mains'l but full genoa and stays'l. Thinking about shaking out 2nd reef -
maybe after coffee!
Up since 4am (for position/weather report), so will have a nap soon.
3.10pm Had a very good sleep! Missed my usual 2230Z 'sked' on 14305 kHz! Checked in to
M.M.Net on 14300 and moved to 14305 because of problems with noise... Randy, KH6RC, in Hawaii,
helped Roy, KR6RG, take my info. Had three other stations contact me - from N. Carolina, USA,
central Canada & Baja, Mexico - a good thing, radio! Ended with a lovely long chat with 'Silas
Crosby' - Canadian boat in Magdalena Bay, Mexico.
Decided to have an early meal so made a mug of tea and then cooked ham and eggs, potatoes,
onions & tomato (fresh still - last big one!) - the food tasted good! While I was doing that, the
wind got up a bit and stayed up - I was glad I'd left the 2nd reef in...
Watched my last sunset in the northern hemisphere for several months as I began eating - next one
will be next year as I head north from New Zealand - April next year, perhaps.
As I write this, our position is 01d 05'N, 118d 24'W - so we're just 65 miles north of the Equator.
We picked up the Equatorial current around midday today. It's W-going here, so will take our
course further W of S while it lasts and may help boost our SOG. Wind is from SE at around 14 kt,
gusting to 16-18 kt or so, occasionally - the SE Trades! We're heeling somewhat and occasionally a
wave sweeps the decks, but we're making good speed - 6.4 knots and more, unless we've been
slowed by a wave hitting.
I'd hoped to have our usual Equator-crossing party in daylight - but with the good speed we're
making now, it looks as though we'll cross over 'the line' to the South in darkness or around first
light, just before dawn tomorrow... Could be good if not much cloud around - moon should still up
as sun rises. We'll postpone celebrations to later in the day. Must decide what to offer
24hr DMG to this morning was 135 n.ml - much more respectable! Reflects the better conditions
with good wind, no tacking and not too much swell to crash into too often to slow us down. We're
going to be close-hauled a lot of the way south, it seems, so any good-sized oncoming swell can
easily affect our daily runs....