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Day 54 - Wind backs to the North - we gybe for the Horn...but only 2-3knots!

Saturday 18th December Day 54

Before posting this, I went up on deck to enjoy the calm sea sparkling in the bright moonlight under a starry sky. The only clouds are low on the northern horizon... a beautiful night... The photo shows sunrise this morning - a few hours before we gybed onto starboard tack.

The only bird I've seen for several days flew around us, just the once, this morning - a graceful shearwater or petrel, I'm not sure which.... dark above with light underparts and dark breast - so many like that - impossible to identify without a longer, closer look .... but could well be the same one I've seen a couple of times fleetingly over the last week or so.

Yet another calm day with hot sunshine over most of it and a long slow swell from the North. By last night, the wind had backed into the NNE and around mid-morning it quite quickly backed further - to W of N - and dropped back down to just 5-6 knots, having teasingly got up to 9 knots around dawn. It's been swinging around from the N all day, sometimes just E of N, sometimes W of N... but rarely getting above 7 knots in strength, often just 3-4 knots, so we've been struggling to make way - but at least, having gybed the mains'l and poled-out genoa around mid-morning with the change in wind direction (that took a time...!!), we're making our course - just W of S. We're clearly crossing the High pressure ridge now - pressure has been dropping steadily over the day from the high of 1037 hPa yesterday to 1032 hPa by early this evening - so hopefully, quite soon, the wind will start increasing in strength, as it backs some more, and we'll be able to head more directly towards Cape Horn, with the High pressure centre safely north of us.

I spent some time cleaning some gooseneck barnacles off the stern at water-level this afternoon - they're so fleshy that leaning out with a knife to cut them off wasn't difficult. There are sure to be more I couldn't reach lower down on the hull and I was tempted to go for a swim, but contented myself with sitting in the hot sun and dangling my legs in the water instead - but not for long, though.... The water wasn't that warm (at 22C, it's well down on the 30C of just north of the Equator) ... and I didn't fancy finding out there was unseen life lurking in the deep nearby - as an ex-windsurfer, horror stories of legs lost to sharks while trying to water-start always come to mind...!

I'm actually looking around for jobs to do now! I ruled up my logbook pages for many days ahead (past Cape Horn, in fact!)... and looked over my distances to date - not very good, I feel, but I have covered a total, according to my daily DMG, of well over 5720 n.ml. from Victoria, so far. In fact, that's in keeping with my conservative estimate of 7 months' total time ... we'll see!

Radio turned up a couple of unexpected contacts - one on 21402 kHz, at my usual time of around 2245UTC, and the other on the Pacific Seafarers Net around 0315 UTC on 14300 kHz- Don & Priscilla of 'Chautauqua', now in Sydney. We first met at Hilton Head in early 2001 and have not met up since, although we've always kept in touch - so it was a lovely surprise to hear Don's call!

Food tonight was asparagus omelette with fried diced potatoes - fresh eggs are still fine, being turned every 1-2 days...

24hr DMG to noon UTC: 103 n.ml. - it will be even less by tomorrow, if today's consistent SOG of 2-3 knots is kept up !

At 1200 UTC: Pitcairn 834ml; Easter Island 934ml; Chile ml (nearest point) 2240ml; Cape Horn WP 2455ml; N.Z. (nearest pt)2713ml; Mexico (Cabo San Lucas) 3710ml.

Sunrise 38S 123W / Dec 10

Written by : Mike

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