Wednesday 15th December - Day 51
Another lovely warm sunny day - a bit more cloud and swell than of late, and up to 2pm, no squalls.... but then a big raincloud came close ... Usual sequence ... wind dropped, then veered and increased quickly, as rain came in, then died and backed again once cloud had moved off downwind... Meant I missed my usual 2.20pm check-in to MMNet - too busy! But finally tried half-an-hour later. Only managed it near 3 o'clock, once I'd got us back onto windsteering, which meant I could turn off instruments and AP and lose the noisy interference that stops me hearing people on the radio. In trying 14305 and 21402, to see if anyone was waiting to make contact with me, I was delighted to find Steve, VA7SKM, on board 'Silas Crosby', on frequency - in La Paz, with lots of radio noise from electrical gear nearby making it difficult for him to hear me well, but he was clear to me - and a good test of him being able to talk from a less noisy environment in 3 days' time, when he sails to a small island nearby for Christmas. Later this evening, propagation was excellent on 14300 and had great radio chats on Pacific Seafarers Net!
I didn't mention yesterday just how exhilarated I felt after my radio 'sked' around the same time ... Not only had a couple of my usual contacts come on frequency to say 'Hi' and chat -which is always very nice - but two new voices came up - one a cruiser, heading for Panama who'd heard me on frequency and wanted to offer a useful contact in case I needed repairs down in Chile (!), and Jerry, KL7EDK, of Fairbanks, Alaska, who has freely given me so much help over the last few years whenever I've had a Winlink or radio-connected problem, who was clear as a bell, despite being nearly 6000 miles away! We had a short chat - his end wasn't too clear, with me fading in and out -- and we'll hope to do the same over the coming weeks - another good test of the 21402 kHz frequency becoming of use now, with my increasing distance from the US and Canada. After that, I was sitting in the cockpit, looking around at the sea and the sky, enjoying a lovely sail - and just glowing with good feelings!! I feel as though I'm connected in to two different but similar communities - the long-term cruising/sailing community - which I've generally found to be full of friendly people, helping each other if a problem arises. .. and now, particularly true of this last year or so of my passagemaking, the 'ham' radio community - equally full of friendly, supportive people, happy to make contact and chat to me, concerned for my wellbeing, out here by myself, and wanting to help me in any way they can. (Between emails and regular radio chats, I definitely don't feel alone here!) It felt good just to be alive - I took several deep breaths of fresh air - and I found myself thinking of 'Satchmo' - "It's a wonderful world"..... A pity the world can't be like that for everyone - it's how it should be always ... and not just because it's Christmas!
Sat on the foredeck in the morning, at the foot of the stays'l, with needle, thread, palm and pliers and sewed some Spectra line onto and around the leather pennant of the stays'l which is a tiny bit too long, and hanging loose so the sail is creasing near its foot when fully out and tensioned. The Spectra line was then tied around the inner forestay to hold the pennant and sail in place closer to the forestay.
Yesterday, took the topping lift off the boom end - been meaning to do that for quite a time, with it tangling with the upper SSB backstay insulator regularly and getting to be a nuisance when reefing. I've secured it near the mast foot, having checked it's not interfering with the main halyard which must be free to run.
About to check over stored food while we're still in calm conditions. It would be nice to update the really useful Excel spreadsheet organized for me last year (still has its use, Suzanne!), so I quickly know exactly where every item of food on board is stowed now!! Hope to finish that tomorrow - can't find my hand-written lists anywhere....!
Pressure is rising (1030 hPa now) and the wind has dropped a bit. Clouds are mainly astern and it's clear ahead... We're slowing down somewhat as we get closer to the high pressure ridge ahead. Even though we've changed course in an effort to avoid its centre, we'll still probably pass through a low-wind area and then I expect to change onto starboard tack as we make more directly for the Horn ... and be in the much colder air coming up from the Southern Ocean ... brrr! Already, I'm having to don another layer after sunset for overnight. Sea temperature is now down to 23C from the 27-28C of Sunday - just 3 days ago!
At noon UTC, 24hr DMG: 130 n.ml. Pitcairn 610 ml (309T); Easter 675 ml (068T); Chile 2355 ml; C. Horn WP 2664 ml (141T); NZ (E.Cape) 2935 ml (246T).