Day 4 to Cape Town Big seas continue...

Friday 8th April .... Big seas and strong winds continue ... and might even increase tonight...

Last night was quite rough... often tossed about by the seas, with occasional waves from a different direction from the rest. At one point, the wind suddenly gusted up strongly, ..... overpowered, despite triple-reefed mains'l, we kept rounding up so I rushed on deck to reduce canvas by furling in more genoa and put on the autopilot to get us off the wind.... grabbed my hat and headlight but didn't bother with my jacket in my haste .... Murphy laughed in delight and dumped a big wave onto me...grrr!!! Had waterproof salopettes on, but the water even went down inside the front - cold and very wet...

The strong gusty conditions have continued .... Now, at 10.15am LT (local time), the wind is between SW and WSW, at 29-30kt and gusty - yet again. It helps to have the wind abaft the beam and the swell from astern.... Makes things far easier. I keep hearing the 'swoosh' and thunder of water as we surf on the top of the big waves. I stood in the companionway for quite a time just before - these big swells, streaked with foam, are so impressive as they approach - their tops way above the stern arch!!

A pair of white-chinned petrels (all dark except around a yellow beak) are keeping us company - swooping low on fixed wings, tips often grazing the water. They're rather larger than the several dark grey and white Atlantic petrels also swooping nearby. I'm on the lookout for spectacled petrels - should see some before long. They're endemic to Tristan da Cunha which is just under 2000 ml away, between here and Cape Town .... all dark with conspicuous white rings around their eyes. No albatross seen again this morning.
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24hr DMG to 1400GMT: 143ml - the result of strong winds and surfing often.... but distance to Cape Town only decreased by 78ml to 3242ml (measured by Gt Circle route - which we shan't be taking since dips too far S into Southern Ocean)

Midday: Seeing our speed up at 20 knots momentarily a short while ago got me worried, so I've just spent quite a time watching the waves to see how we're behaving. Absolutely nothing to worry about, it would seem, with the wind mainly 20-24 knots, occasionally gusting higher - we're hardly surfing at all now... I was all set to deploy the Delta drogue to slow us down but with our speed generally down around 5.5- 6 kt, up to 7 kt with a wave, it's clearly not needed. The swell is well spaced with very little foam. Wind direction is beginning to veer towards WNW now.

The advantage of being on deck is seeing more birds - a Cape petrel flew by, also a solitary yellow-nosed albatross.
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3pm Making tea to take my mind off the noise! Wind has veered past WNW and keeps gusting up to 30-32kt - so makes quite a difference to the feel. The boat seems to be rushing along at speed - all very noisy and bumpy... and all because the wind is nearly beam on rather than well 'abaft the beam'. Seas are still well up from SW, so with change in direction of wind, it all gets that much rougher and we're getting tossed about a lot... and the forecast is for even more of the same overnight... "Hey ho, a-sailing we must go!"

As I checked on deck with the increase in wind, three black-browed albatross flew close by - just to show me they're still around, I suppose!

Maybe it's a good time to post this while I sip my tea over a Tim Tam (still got some - lovely!).

Written by : Mike

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