Day 75 towards Cape Horn -Increasingly strong conditions over Fri into night

Friday 4th January, 2013

Around midday the wind started increasing slowly from the F3-4 of earlier, and pressure started dropping - from a steady 993 in the morning more rapidly in the evening - to 984 by 11pm, when I made my usual contact with Pacific Seafarers Net.

By that time, we were in very strong conditions, with genoa furled away, small stays'l and 3 reefs in mains'l. Seas were pretty big - around 5m or more - and were tossing us around - but they were fairly well spaced and not breaking. With the wind on our beam we were making speeds of around 7kt or more and Fred was happily keeping us on course (autopilot had gone down, again, earlier that morning!). My worry ahead was a steep seamount peaking at around 300m depth, rising abruptly from 2000-3000m depths! Seas were likely to be nasty in that area in these conditions - so definitely to be avoided.

We were making directly for our waypoint due S of Cape Horn and the day had been grey with frequent rain - but I had seen the occasional birds - a pair of prions and, later, a wedge-tailed shearwater.

I was debating whether I'd have to stop the boat - but was not inclined to do so while we were coping with the conditions. Winds were around 30kt or more (I recognised the sound in the rigging!) and our speed showed the wind strength also - with so little sail up, to be making over 7kt shows a strong wind! Eventually, with no sign of the wind increasing further (I also kept checking the gribs and weather info!), I got to sleep for a few hours - with an alarm set to wake me up well before we could get anywhere near the seamount - and also to check on our course, should the wind have changed direction...

When I awoke, it was daylight, with a patch of blue sky overhead among the grey clouds - and the wind had died totally! Adjusted Fred and unfurled the genoa and stays'l to give us speed - from 4kt, we increased to 6kt!. Pressure is still very low at 982 hPa - and wind set to increase possily a bit later but then die back.. We're 13ml SW of the seamount, heding ESE, so that's a safe distance away.

More tomorrow...! I'm off to get some more sleep (at 8am Sat!)

24hr DMG at 5pm local time (2300GMT / CST in N.America): 130 Cape Horn 326 away and my waypoint, off the continental shelf, well S of C. Horn, was 335 away. The nearest big island along the channels of the SW Chile coast iwa now Isla Carlos, 184 away to NE .

For my positions, see: - 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"

Written by : Mike

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