Wednesday 14th March 2012
1pm LT: We're ambling along now under full main, staysail and some genoa, in bright sunshine and rising pressure - it's all contrasts out here!
The Cold Front passed over around 2a.m.LT (roughly when expected), preceded by lots of very heavy rain - good since it will have washed some of the salt off the boat, although my hat, hair and outers got soaked. Soon after dark, with wind beginning to increase, I'd taken in the 3rd reef to be safe, not being sure how strong the winds would become as it got closer... In the event, the most I saw was 32kt, so having kept slightly further N might have helped - certainly, being on a broad reach and in wind-vane mode was good. We headed NNE for a short time while I gybed the main, set the stays'l on its pole and generally sorted us out in the SW6 winds behind the Front... Nothing too dramatic - in fact, almost pleasant, with the moon giving some light from behind thin cloud following the rain, and seas not too bad. By 6am, we were rolling a lot in confused seas, in SSW5 wind (only 18kt) and with pressure rising... There was a lovely sunrise, made all the better by seeing a Royal and a Yellow-nosed albatross as well as a Sooty shearwater nearby.
We've several Sooties around now, swooping around the boat and close to the water... and the Royal albatross glided by again, on fixed long wings - it's so much larger than the Sooties, they seem small by comparison, but they're quite big birds really.
1300 GMT/8pm LT - Dark! Feels as though we're going so slowly, but in fact we're making reasonable speed (5-6 knots), considering we're on a very broad reach, heading E in 14 knots of WSW wind. The relatively calm seas make it seem as though we're not moving much, although we're constantly rolling slightly in quite a definite 3m, 8 sec SW swell running - clearly being caused by a Low in that direction.
I feel so very relaxed in these conditions! Sitting here, after watching the sun set and the birds swoop around as darkness fell and the stars came out...as my food warms up! Catching up with emails and looking over a newly-downloaded set of grib weather files and weatherfaxes (Tropical Cyclone 'Lua' might cause us a small problem after it passes S over Australia as a strong depression and on into the Gt Australian Bight early next week, Bob McD tells me...) I even caught a station in Iowa calling clearly on 14300 kHz - I responded and sent good wishes to a friend!
Propagation is so variable - I failed to be heard in Kauai by Tom, K4XV, who was Net Control for the Pacific Seafarers Net this morning (although I could hear him!), but yesterday's Net Control, Jane, NH7TZ, heard me quite well. I finally, after several days of trying, managed to have a radio chat with Petr, OK4SNG, single-handing on board 'Singa' as he makes his way to S of Tasmania - he was hove-to at 45S, 136E in E winds of 40 knots - not useful, when you're trying to sail E!! I had my usual daily chat on 8297 with Greg on 'Alcidae' - he's close enough for poor propagation due to solar flares not to cause us any probem.
Time to finish with emails and eat... Keeping an eye on the wind strength - keeps going up to 18 kt from 14 kt... If it goes much higher, will need to take in the first reef... (Conditions are looking reasonable for the next few days...)
Noon (GMT) DMG today: 115 n.ml. C.Leeuwin: 647 n.ml. to the NE ; Hobart: 1876 sailing miles away to the E...
Present position: 42S, 106E