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Day 52 towards Cape Horn .... Hove-to... mix of frustrations and calm relaxatio

Wednesday 12th December 2012

Wind got up to 5-6knots overnight and into this morning- we made fair speed, at around 3-3.5 kt!! Only problem was our course being SW in the ESE-SSE winds - and the ever-present threat of backing the sails in the occasional fickle, lighter wind - which then meant I had to gybe us around in a slow circle, yet again, to get back on course... Without good speed, we couldn't tack through the wind and I can't use my engine to help, of course.

Having realised I had a problem with my wind-steering mechanism, I spent most of the morning perched on the sugar-scoop trying to sort that out... Always a fear of dropping tools or vital parts overboard when leaning out over the water like that! For some time, I worked with us underway - we were making 3-4knots and it seemed a shame to stop, even though our course was SW. But after a bit, I decided to heave to , as being easier to work in. Soon after doing so, the wind died and we were drifting at 1-2 kt - mostly N-NW, until I tacked us around, to lie hove-to on the opposite tack - so that we drifted SW instead of NW!! Eventually, well after sunset, the wind backed sufficiently that we drifted SSE - for the first time in several days, we were on course for the Horn, albeit at 1-2kt! With the wind remaining so light (still only 3kt), I decided it was simpler to stay hove-to.... If the wind backs to the NE overnight, as forecast, our drift should follow it around nicely.

Having finished with Fred, I turned my attention to other jobs I'd thought up - one being to clean the cockpit sole and drains ... I was really pleased I'd decided to do so - the drains were completely blocked - from flying fish scales!!! (Three nights running, recently, two good-sized flying fish had landed in the cockpit and had clearly thrashed about, losing lots of their large scales.)

I had also thought it would be a good time to top up the main diesel tank from the spare fuel in jerry cans. Again, finding a problem there, I was pleased to have decided to do that now - but even more pleased when the problem finally resolved itself .. the fuel pump suddenly decided to work (after I'd spent an age checking power was present to it and then checking its internal fuse...grrr!) We've used about 60l in just over 50 days of generator use - about as I'd expected, so that's good. I suddenly remembered I'd not run the engine since Sausalito on 1st November, so did so for twenty minutes, to get the oil circulating and charge the batteries a little at the same time.

A few other small jobs, and then it was back to trying to clean off the hard salt spots on the windscreen as the sun began to set ..... so difficult to remove - they're baked on! But what a beautiful setting to be working in.... I gazed around .... at the slightly ruffled sea, with a long southerly swell (Southern Ocean weather making itself felt even here!), the blue sky, a few rosy clouds in the west ... The silence and feeling of peace was awesome! Just a slight sound ... of water lapping against the hull and occasional rustling from the sails... another world...

Weather might be calm for one more day or so - but a deep trough is headed this way to bring NE -NW winds soon -so then we'll be able to head SE at a reasonable speed - might even get the boat washed off in rainwater!

24hr DMG at 3pm: 52 n.ml. (a little bit of wind overnight). Cape Horn was 2634 n.ml. away & our nearest land, Easter Island, 488 n.ml. away to ENE, with Pitcairn Island 700 n.ml. to the WNW . Punta Gatera, just S of Valdivia (Chile) is 2241 n.ml. to the ESE and New Zealand's East Cape (its closest point to us) is 3122 n.ml to the WSW.

For my daily position and track:

See my website's 'Travels' page - go to www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites -, especially good nearer the poles, i.e. should be good when in the Southern Ocean.

Unfotunately, having run out of lithium batteries for the GPS tracker unit, the other website can no longer keep my track up-to-date - it stopped on 17th November...
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Written by : Mike

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