Monday 11th April 2011
I've spent long periods of time in the companionway, watching the seas approaching us... and thoroughly enjoying the many birds around us - of all kinds. Just about all the ones I've seen over the past few days seem to be with us today in numbers - the big flock of prions, pair of Great Shearwater, Atlantic and other petrels & the occasional albatross (becoming far less frequent now). The ocean scene in rough weather is awesome - and I never fail to be fascinated by it.
The sky cleared nicely around midday, but is now very cloudy again - but it's been light cloud, so the sun has been visible most of the day. Sea temperature is just under 15C (59F) and the air feels relatively warm - I've not felt the need to put on any heating for quite a time. (Whereas I heard on the Patagonia Net this morning that it was snowing in Puerto Williams!)
The wind slowly increased from NNW 12 knots yesterday evening, when we were beam reaching pleasantly under full canvas at 6.6 kt, to NW 20kt by midnight, when I took in a reef with the Southern Cross overhead. Just before 6am, as the first hint of light was appearing in the E, with a bright Venus high above, the wind was 25kt or more and we were making 7.5 kt but heeling rather, so I reduced canvas again & our speed stayed good. ... By 8am, wind was up to NW 33kt and seas were knocking us about - and it's been around 30kt all day, with the pressure continuing to fall from a high of 1017 midday yesterday to its present 1006 hPa. The wind generator has had no problem keeping us well-charged in these conditions and the 24hr DMG of 152 ml reflects the good sailing we've had since yesterday.
The seas increased with the wind and have been easily 4m, sometimes 5m, all day, frequently catching us and tossing us around. It's a time when it's best not be caught beam on to them because then we're laid 'on our ears', often staggering and taking a time to recover. Better to get the seas well onto the quarter - then we rise up over the waves and surf nicely as they pass under. I changed course slightly, trying to make that happen. But watching the waves, I've seen two or three big ones come fairly close together - so if we're off-balance still from one, the next is likely to catch us even more. Also the sea is really rough and 'lumpy' - with quite big wind waves added in to the swell, sometimes coming from different directions. Overnight and tomorrow, the wind should be abating, so things should get calmer slowly, although the seas, which get up so quickly in strong winds, always take a time to lie down.
I've made a lot of thick bean and barley soup - plenty for several days - so that's on the menu for tonight....