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Day 5 to CT - Lots of birds - and a foul current!

Saturday 9th April 2011

6.30am Dawn is breaking with streaks of pink cloud in the East.... Venus no longer seen. Big flock of dainty, fast-moving prions, swooping around en masse. A solitary albatross. A few Atlantic petrels. Seas still up but nearer 3.5m, rather than the 4-5m of yesterday morning.

Still heading NNE to avoid worst of swell to SE but very soon (at 44S) will turn East, heading towards Cape Town more directly for a time ... until next weather system moves north into my path...! The depressions never stop coming - every 3 days or so, a new one turns up. Only question is how far N they move... and we're heading into winter now, so they move further N than in the southern summer.

Found we'd slowed right down - losing 1.5 kt or so to a strong, foul current hereabouts & also clearly well under-canvassed, so unfurled the stays'l and more genoa.... Now making 5-6 kt SOG .... much better than 3.5kt! Wind is WNW 22-25kt.... we're nearly beam-reaching.

Last night, the wind stayed up, gusting to 30kt until well gone midnight but then, slowly, things definitely calmed down, although with the change of wind direction, we were often (and still occasionally are) getting knocked sideways by waves - but nothing too strong to worry about!

Time for some more sleep before breakfast .....!

Midday Still lots of birds, including 3 black-browed albatross - same ones as seen yesterday? And temperature has gone right up since Thursday evening - now 15.6C from 8.0C around Falklands. I'm wondering if that, and the many birds around (shoals of fish here?), is due to the strong SW-flowing current I'm seeing that's slowing us down so much.... from 6.9kt boat speed to 4.5kt SOG! I've changed course slightly in an effort to get out of the current and also anticipating our course change to East quite soon - 'cutting the corner' a bit!

1400GMT/11am LT 24hr DMG: 119 ml (3195ml to Cape Town)

7pm It became a rough ride this afternoon...! Wind slowly veered to just N of NW & has been regularly up around 32kt, gusting 37kt and with seas up to 4m or more from the WNW, it became very uncomfortable. We were frequently being laid 'on our ears' by the swell nearly beam on to our course ... so I reduced sail a touch more and decided to head us even more downwind. Things got a lot better with the wind well abaft the beam and the seas on our quarter... It also happens to be heading us pretty well on course for Cape Town as well, although we're a bit S of our planned route - hopefully, not getting a much greater swell than we would have had 25miles further N. The strong wind could well continue overnight before abating tomorrow and Monday, possibly dying away by Tuesday with High pressure developing, before a Low starts to form just off S. America and head this way.

I noticed the windsteering vane frame was beginning to break and took it down - means we're dependent on the autopilot now, until I can find a way to mend it.

Written by : Mike

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