Day 47 from Cape Town to Hobart - wind dies away as a Big Fat High extends over

Saturday 24th March 2012

Wind died just before dawn - all reefs shaken out, working as it got light, under a grey, overcast sky. A showery, gusty morning. Every now and then, wind increased from the usual 6-9 knots as a cloud came over and I rushed to turn off the motor that was idling at low revs, to help us along at a speed in excess of the 1-2 knots we'd be doing otherwise - but it never lasted long! Mains'l was flopping about in the 4m swell and the light wind... The wind varied in direction, so sail trimming was frequent, trying to get the most out of what there was.

I decided to let the motor run gently for a 20-24hr period, so long as the wind stayed around 6-7 kt or less (which it has), to help us get further S to where there might be wind - which may not be until 2-3 days' time, maybe longer... We don't have a lot of fuel, but I'd like to see just how much we use when going gently like this, rather than slopping about in the left-over swell of the last few days and going nowhere.

Motor-sailing is a luxury I often don't have the choice of, but in calms, it is a definite plus! The other bonuses are lots of hot water, hot air (from the cooling water pipe lead to a fan by the chart table area), as well as charging the batteries really well ... and I ran the watermaker to fill the tanks.

The afternoon has been lovely (speed apart!) - the sun came out once the cloud overhead cleared away, although there were plenty around on the horizon and a low, dark grey cloud close astern which fortunately stayed there all afternoon and didn't spread over us - it was raining heavily under it in a few places. Two yellow-nosed albatross flew majestically around, near and far, gliding with their long wings held out, rarely beating them. Of course, when I went for my camera, they disappeared for quite a time!

Wind tonight has died to 3 knots from WNW - not much use for sailing SE!

We might have to flop about for the next few days - I can't run the engine to help for much longer..... From one extreme to the other - from gales and big swell one day to calms a couple of days later...... At least the swell is decreasing ... down to just 2-3m tonight with the occasional larger wave, but all well-spaced and water surface fairly smooth. (Greg, on 'Alcidae', 500 miles away at 43S, had 20knots and was sailing nicely this afternoon!)

DMG at noon today, with motor-sailing from dawn, was 94 - we'd been doing reasonably well overnight, beam reaching in wind of around 15 knots.

Sailing distance to Hobart: 977 - under 1000 !! Normally, would take about 8 days... now, who knows?

Written by : Mike

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