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Day 63 - Grey, murky, dampness alternating with a bright sunny sky!

Monday 27th December 2010

Day 63 marks my longest time nonstop at sea so far! I took 62 days from Cape Town, South Africa, to Nelson, New Zealand in March-May this year and that

was just one day more than my passage down to Cape Town from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, in the Canaries, from October to December last year - meant to

be a nonstop RTW attempt, but I had to pull in to Cape Town for unavoidable repairs, reaching there, under sail alone, on 6th December 2009.

This morning was murky, grey and damp! Air temperature 11C and sea 8C. A day for hot soup .... and a hot stew very welcome in the evening!

I got into my bunk for warmth!! With loads of emails to reply to, I was just settled in nicely when I realized the wind had increased ... In fact, to 35-40kt ....

I'd been aware of the pressure dropping, from 1006 late last night to 1003 around 6am, after I'd had to gybe the mains'l, with rain starting soon after. But I

was unprepared for this sudden strong wind - although, looking at the pressure when the wind was at its height, it had dropped right down to 995 hPa!! I knew a Low was set to pass well S of us at some point, and I hadn't thought much of the pressure drop earlier. Another learning curve!! Of course, with it raining, I'd had to put my foul weather gear on - that takes an age!! Especially over all my layers...

I reduced the aleady small headsails (we were surfing to well over 8 knots) and watched how the boat performed - she did fine. The pressure dropped a

bit more, to 994, and steadied... The wind stayed up at around 35 knots and slowly backed, with occasional stronger gusts... We made good speed!!

An hour or so later, the sun came out - the sky had cleared totally.. and there, soaring on fixed wings ahead of us, was a Wandering Albatross (a New Zealand

albatross) with distinctive white splashes on its dark upper wing surfaces, white body and mainly white underparts.... Two albatrosses in two days...!!

The wind stayed strong on & off all day ... mainly 27 knots, often 30+. Cloud banks came and went, with clear sky in between - a real mix!! But the wind

stayed WNW, while pressure very slowly rose- to 1001 hPa by evening.

Of course, with such strong wind, the swell increased too - becoming 4-5 m. and regularly catching us and knocking us about...

The Low giving a worry for later in the week, just before New Year's Eve, is causing a change of mind about our course. After reaching 50S 100W, the plan was to

head directly for a WP 60 ml S of Cape Horn (off the continental shelf) via a Great Circle route (the quickest way) but with a 9m steep swell forecast with that

Low, peaking at around 53S, I'll stay on my 112T course for a bit longer after reaching 50S, rather than change to 120T. The hope is that by staying a bit

further north, we'll miss the worst of that nasty swell... We'll see how that works out!

A lovely clear sky after sunset, with stars (Orion high up - standing on his head!) and , later, a bright moon - but very cold!! Winter weather, to my mind!

24hr DMG to noon UTC: 126 n.ml. (See maps showing track & position via links on my website 'Travels' page)

At 1200 (Monday) UTC: 49:27S, 102:18W. Cape Horn WP 1313 ml SE; Easter Island 1377ml N; Chile 1030ml ESE; N.Z. (South Island) 3314ml WSW; Mexico

(Cabo S. Lucas) 4358ml. N.

Written by : Mike

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