Overnight last night, as I was trying to handsteer a lot in strong winds, I found that the instrument lights kept going off erratically - when I pressed the button the lights always came on instantly, but then odd ones would turn off again after a short time - including my wind and speed display - not very helpful when you're trying to tack (after finding yourself 'hove-to') or reef down under a very dark, overcast, night sky!
"Nereida" kept a reasonable course over much of the night but I decided it was about time I got the wind-steering gear (the German Windpilot) into action since I was going to be on this starboard tack for quite a time - and I could do with a bit of a rest from constantly jumping up into the cockpit & worrying about the course we were making.
So I brought 'Hermann' into action - actually a very simple thing to do but since I'd done it so very little over the last few years, I had a bit of a 'hang up' about it (should have done it yesterday but generator oil change took precedence).
I got us going nicely on course, locked off the wheel and set Hermann into action - with a few easily-made, minor adjustments we were trundling along nicely on course. The good news is that we are now able to make less westing (into that threatening, developing, High pressure area) since I can control our direction, unlike yesterday when I was forced to maintain a close reach. The wind has veered more so it was important for me to be able to keep us going no higher than SW. Steering by the wind means I need to keep an eye on the wind direction, but also means no battery power usage!
Looking at the weather info downloaded this morning, it seems I need to keep going SSW-SW for several more days before, hopefully, the wind goes gradually into the NE & then E to take me on a run to Hawaii. A N gale is forecast for the coast region & might reach out to affect me a bit tonight or tomorrow - good news if it brings good wind!!
Well, the sun got out again, Hermann is keeping us on course beautifully and the seas have calmed down from last night - although the occasional big swell comes along, as you'd expect. I spent some time writing up my logs and emailing and had a good nap instead of looking at the autopilot wiring - tomorrow! When the latest weatherfaxes were downloaded, they made it clear that I must try to keep going due S, if possible, rather than get any further west, if I'm to avoid the 'no-wind' zone of high pressure - already today the pressure on my path rose to 1023, although it's now down to 1021. The wind is N, so it's difficult to go dead downwind - I may have to gybe onto port tack at some point if I see the wind dropping or the pressure rising again.
After our roll call, I had a good meal and then relaxed - the sky had cleared a lot and the stars were out - I saw all the familiar ones: Cassiopeia, the Plough, etc and was pleased to spot my favourite little constellation, Delphinus (the dolphin), close to Cygnus. The sea and air temperatures have risen to 17C and 18C, so it is definitely getting warmer gradually. I'm just south of Pt Conception (well over 300 mls off), so entering S. California in latitude.