Saturday 17th March 2012 .... St Patrick's!
Tied in the 2nd reef around 10pm last night, in expectation of stronger winds - which didn't happen (of course!) but wind did veer more - so the effect was the same and I just had to gradually sheet in the sails as we got closer to the wind.
Sky cleared nicely around midday from the gloomy overcast of earlier, but pressure has been dropping all day... another Cold Front on its way - but this one should be fairly gentle as it passes by where I am now, having sailed further north! (Still expecting those nasty swells and gales on Monday - reason for heading N now, trying to avoid worst of them)
Magnetic variation is changing rapidly - it has gone down from 25W overnight Tues/Wed to 10W now - I check it daily. (Variation gives difference between compass reading and true heading) When I started from Cape Town, it was also 25W, it has increased to a maximum of 47W at 067-069E and has been decreasing since.
4.50pm: Just spent ages with a mug of coffee in the companionway, as we plough our way close-hauled through the confused seas in N-NNW wind of around 20knots. We're in 'wind-vane' mode to keep our speed up - presently 5.7kt. Otherwise, speed can drop to 2kt if we get too close to the wind, trying to make a course of 065T, whereas being about 60 degrees off the apparent wind works fine, giving a reasonable speed through the water. I can spend hours gazing around when conditions are pleasant - as now, with some light cloud and plenty of sunshine - & even feeling warm at times! Watched several petrels and shearwaters swooping and gliding gracefully around the boat - they've adopted us, it seems!
Earlier, had absolutely no copy on Graham, ZS2ABK, of the S.A.M.M.Net, who must have been trying to contact both of us at 0610GMT as usual. Even Greg, on 'Alcidae3' who has been hearing him better than I have, heard nothing. So we went to our usual frequency of 8297, which works well for us, to exchange our posiitions (he's at 43S, 103E; I'm at 41S, 114E) and current weather info and discuss the weather coming up (as always!!), grib files, RF interference, and other chit-chat. His weather is so much stronger than mine, although he's only 2 degrees S of me... with 30-35 to my18-20 knots of wind... He hove to again for a few hours overnight.... Seems he has sustained a lot of damage on his steel boat, including tangs come loose from the deck-plates which have lifted (nasty!) and steering gear not behaving properly, among other things, so he's seriously contemplating following me into Hobart to repair his boat - he's clearly into welding and sounds as though he needs to be! Also managed a chat just before sunset on 14350 kHz with Petr, OK4SNG, on 28ft 'Singa' - he's about 350 ml SW of Tasmania and making now for a waypoint S.of New Zealand (his 'antipode' compared with Falmouth, Cornwall, England, from where he started last year).
Low cloud came over and blotted out the sun around 5pm - moist, warm air, almost foggy, with very reduced visibility, but wind still up around 20kt, from NNW, so we're making good speed still, but very bumpy in confused, rough seas!.
At 1200 GMT/8pm LT (Perth time!) DMG: 129 n.ml. 413 n.ml.due S of Cape Leeuwin; Hobart is 1559 sailing miles away (via the S. Capes) to the ESE.