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Day 56 - Summer solstice - and a full lunar eclipse at moonrise ... but hidden b

Monday 20th December Day 56 - Summer solstice down here - so shortest day up north!

Full eclipse of the moon in these parts, as it rises tonight - but with the present total grey cloud cover, I doubt I'll see anything - pity!!

Overnight, we continued to make good speed in around 15 kt of W wind. There was occasional rain, starting out as drizzle just before midnight. By dawn, the wind had dropped to 7 kt under heavy overcast and occasional further drizzle. Not long after, the wind started rising and veered a little... and got stronger... I went on deck to reef the mains'l in heavy rain.... tied in the first reef ... wondered about the second .... but then saw the wind was up at 25 knots ... no question! We were broad reaching and by then were making around 7 knots in an increasing swell. It's only too easy to carry too much sail downwind - but then the wind steering gets overpowered and can't cope. There's often very little difference in boat speed with the reduced canvas - but the boat feels better!

It was nice to see several birds around - I'm still keeping an eye out for my first albatross down here!

Having got very wet and being definitely under-clothed for the cooler conditions, I went to get out some of my warm fleeces - and found a lot of them sopping wet inside the plastic bags I'd carefully stowed them away in. OK - there were a couple of tiny 'breather' holes in the bags, but they should not have been as soaking wet as I found them - this was not a case of condensation - and definitely needs thorough investigation- but at some future date. For now, I removed all of them from their bags, wrung the water out as best I could and hung them up in the head to drip - at least fleeces lose water quickly when hung up but I just hope I can dry them properly - not so easy in a cool, damp climate. Last week, in the hot sun, they'd have been dry in no time! (By early afternoon, in a weak sun and with the air feeling a bit warm, I hung them out to dry in the cockpit)

As I'm writing this at 5pm, I'm keeping my eye on the cloud upwind - with so many things hanging out to dry in the cockpit, I don't want to get caught out by the rain which looks possible. Nor do I want to get caught out by the quickly rising wind which often precedes the rain! The clothing will have to come in soon anyway but hopefully will have dried somewhat.

My other job of today has just been finished. I spotted one of my bits of anti-chafe plastic tubing on a lower shroud dangling loose yesterday. If it hadn't been secured at its lower end with some insulating (sticky) tape, it would have been long gone - so today I went around all the tubing and wrapped tape around in several places - hopefully, that will keep them in place now.

The wind has been right down to 7 knots or less over most of the afternoon, rising to 10-11 knots by 5pm, so our speed has been down again. This light wind is expected to continue for a day or so, before gradually strengthening, until by dawn on Wed 22nd it will be around 20 kt, peaking to 30-40 knots or more later in the day, very slowly reducing a little over Thurs 23rd Dec, maybe reaching 20kt again, by early on Christmas Eve... There's a chance it might have died down more by Christmas Day... but the swells are sure to be big still, for a time.

6.00pm Drizzle! In with the clothing ... checked the windsteering before the rain got any heavier - the wind keeps swinging about so our course varies quite a bit.

24hr DMG to noon UTC: 128 n.ml.

At 1200 UTC: Pitcairn 1033ml; Easter Island 975ml; Chile ml (nearest point) 1960ml; Cape Horn WP 2260ml; N.Z. (nearest pt - Portland Island) 2762ml; Mexico (Cabo San Lucas) 3850ml.

Written by : Mike

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