Day 54 towards Cape Horn - Hove to in big swell - problems to see to in the mor

Friday 14th December 2012

Midnight- and a sudden change in the wind, with a heavy shower , backed the main - we had togybe and change tack onto starboard which we've been on until now. Bright and sunny this morning, with slight cloud cover building up over the day, to become grey rainclouds by evening - a change in the weather is expected... We've been rolling around in a big swell - but making good speed SE on almost a dead run downwind.

Had a problem with the windsteering this morning - tackled it with the hammer to knock the rudder into its correct position - not sure how long that will last... In the meantime, with the swell knocking us around frequently, used the autopilot until this evening, around sunset - when we hove to..

I'd raised the little stays'l pole, thinking to check that out and get it ready for stronger conditions coming up... Took a time to organise- but that was partly the point of doing it now since it really wasn't needed yet. Decided to furl the genoa and unfurl the stays'l on its pole for overnight with sunset close ... but found the genoa wouldn't furl in all the way - not enough furling line on the drum.... damn!! Was OK not so long ago... Why? Crossed my mind that we'd had a 'genoa wrap' a while back and I'd had problem with disentangling the two sheets when sorting that out ...maybe the reason?? Lowered and stowed the genoa pole - at least that was beautifully easy and quick, with the new system organised just before I left.

I undid the two genoa sheets and took them one at a time up to the bow and wound them several times around the slightly flapping genoa... Tried to wrap the sail around more neatly- but I needed a few more feet of height...! Stood up on the wooden step and the pulpit to gain height but still couldn't achieve much, but sail was slightly better and flapping less.... Need to bring the furling line to the drum and wind it around several times before unfurling the sail... Tomorrow... Decided I'd better heave to ... Bad weather is on its way and if we continued on our SE course, it would be worse than staying put here.

Came up into the wind and heaved to under mains'l alone, having furled in the stays'l - at least that furler was OK! I took the opportunity to tie in the second reef while it was easy - winds are expected to increase soon... Tonight, the NNW wind has already got up to over 20kt, from the 10-15kt earlier.

As I looked around, after heaving to, I noticed the windsteering pin, holding the rudder still, had come loose and the rudder was moving around in the swell... I went to re-insert the pin - it wouldn't go... The rudder had shifted on its shaft and rotated a lot... I tied it off with its safety line, to stop it banging on the stern - another problem - but more major than the furler - That problem is relatively simple to fix, although needing time lying in the bow to do it... The windsteering rudder problem is likely to be not so amenable to being sorted out at sea - with just one pair of hands available...

Had a totally unexpected, but very nice, email from the Chile Navy this evening - thanking me for my daily weather reports, saying they were keeping an eye on my position (and me!) & pointing out their weather services available - and offering help if I should want it(!!) No idea how they know of my existence, although it seems my weather report must get forwarded to the relevant area weather services - and Chile is in charge of Met Area XV - where we are now.

This afternoon, I extended the wind transducer arm by adding another, longer piece of wood to it. It seemed to me to have been consistently badly under-reading the wind speed and I felt it needed to be put further away from the wind shadow of the stern arch. Wind direction looked to be displayed correctly and the wind speed now looks better, too.

Wind is gusting up to 24kt now.. Time to post this and get to sleep ... We'll see how the weather is in the morning!

24hr DMG at 3pm: 112 Cape Horn was 2591 away & our nearest land, Easter Island, 456 away to ENE, with Pitcairn Island 840 to the WNW . Punta Gatera, just S of Valdivia (Chile) is 2098 to the ESE and New Zealand's East Cape (its closest point to us) is 3162 to the WSW.

Written by : Mike

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