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Day 59 towards Cape Horn - Pleasant sailing in sunshine, after Front passes over

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR - from Jeanne on "Nereida"!!

Wednesday 19th December 2012

Last night we made excellent speed in increased wind as the Front got closer. The wind backed slowly from N - NNW - NW, at which point, already almost dead downwind and with pressure well down, I decided to gybe, to pre-empt the windshift on the passing of the Front. Not wanting to be caught out, as happened badly once before (57kt, main backed, stanchions bent by preventer, big seas from two directions.... in dark, around midnight, of course!), I'm always very cautious when I know a Front is approaching.. They can be quite vicious down this way, with the wind, often very strong, normally backing in no time from NW to SW !! Seeing as our heading is normally East, once in the Southern Ocean, the dead certainty of a gybe is clear to see!

With the increased wind, the seas got up as well, to 4m or more, and became following, so we often surfed a little ... normally to just over 8kt (from the 6-7 knots we were making then). I saw 10kt once, with a slightly bigger wave, but since the seas were nowhere near breaking, I felt there was no real problem... I stood out in the companionway for a time, to watch our behaviour and reassure myself that all was fine in the stronger conditions before getting to my bunk to sleep, having switched to AP.... Sky was clear and beautifully starry for a short time, before clouding over again !

Got up a few hours later, just before dawn to check on deck and also to try to make contact with the Patagonia Cruisers Net at 1200GMT (4am PST - local time!). Sure enough, wind was now from SW - the Front was passing over - although the sky was still cloudy, with slight drizzle, and the wind was still up. I unfurled the stays'l, put Fred back in charge and got us headed correctly and sails trimmed properly. Heard voices on 8164 kHz, but couldn't make contact with Wolfgang ... another day, when we're a bit closer, maybe!

3 hrs later, wind was from WSW & had dropped - so full genoa, from a tiny bit! Sun finally got out - and it's been a lovely sunny, increasingly-warm day since... I was actually forced to take off my fleece top this afternoon, it got so warm ! Friends in New Zealand's North Island harbours have been commenting I'm at their latitude now - and they were enjoying some nice summer weather.

While adjusting the mains'l, I found the boom preventer line really difficult to move - on looking closer, I found the block it was lead through from the clutch was broken - had to replace it... Fortunately, had a spare block there, already in place, so didn't take long.

Finally, .... there's life out here !! Has been a long time since I last saw any birds, but today and yesterday, there has been a pair - of shearwaters, possibly. Haven't been able as yet to get a really good view, but must check them out in my birdbook...

Spent some time amusing myself composing a photograph for my website 'Christmas card' (either shown above here - or will be tomorrow!). The tiny 'tree' was a present from friends when unexpectedly in Cape Town over Christmas '09 and the 'stocking' was among presents, with Christmas at sea in mind, from when in Guernsey, just as I was leaving for the Canaries to prepare for my first nonstop RTW attempt in '09. The tiny panda has been my constant companion at the chart table since Cape Town at that time, also!

Sun going down fast now (6.25pm PST). We're sailing well at 6.5-7.2 kt SOG with Fred in charge ....Going quickly to cook myself a nice cheese and onion omelette to enjoy before the Pacific Seafarers Net roll call at 0330GMT/7.30pm ...

24hr DMG at 3pm: 128 n.ml.! (That's more like it!) Cape Horn was 2060 n.ml. away (but my waypoint S of C. Horn was 2095n.ml. away) & our nearest land, Easter Island, is now 618 n.ml. away to N. Punta Galera, just S of Valdivia (Chile) is 1730 n.ml. to the ESE and New Zealand's East Cape (its closest point to us) is 3274 n.ml to the WSW.
For positions, see:
www.svnereida.com - 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"

Written by : Mike

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