I poked my head out to check on deck - an amazing sight ... A group of EIGHT or more Great shearwaters were nearby! I was delighted! Never expected to see so many at one time - thought they weren't birds that normally flock together..... wrong!
Just finished with morning radio Nets and checking emails. Contacted by John, ZD9GI, on Gough Island (UK territory) - a tiny speck in the S. Atlantic which I'd assumed until recently was deserted - but it has at least one person living there (and presumably more!): John is the radio operator there and was helping out on the S.African.M.M. Net - Sam, ZS1SAM, (and Graham, ZS2ABK) are both having trouble hearing me, so John is acting as a relay to them, to pass on my position daily. Similarly, Wolfgang, who runs the daily Patagonia Net, is getting difficult to communicate with, so Ian on 'Persimmon', who left P.Williams yesterday to head W up the Beagle Channel, headed for the Magellan Strait W end, relayed to him -we can just about hear each other OK.
Daily position&weather report logged over usual late breakfast (!) and posted to website (via Winlink helper Lor, W3QA). Today's was as follows:
TIME: 2011/04/12 14:00
LATITUDE: 43-29.64S; LONGITUDE: 041-49.19W
COURSE: 067T; SPEED: 5.3
WIND_SPEED: 16; WIND_DIR: WNW
SWELL_DIR: NW; SWELL_HT: 3.5M; SWELL_PER: 6
CLOUDS: 95%; BARO: 1009; TREND: 0
AIR_TEMP: 18.0C; SEA_TEMP: 14.0C
24hr DMG: 146 n.ml. Distance to Cape Town (Gt circle route): 2817 n.ml.
Swell: NW 3-4 m - no tumbling crests and well-spaced, so it's much smoother with very small wind waves on top..... occasionally, larger ones come along, .... so just some reasonably gentle rocking & rolling (more like bouncing!), without any of the sudden heeling or being tossed around, nor crashing noises!! Humidity way up at 80% - cool air feels damp and everything in cockpit - surfaces, winches etc - covered in drops or film of seawater... air 18C in cabin - probably same as outside. Sun struggling through thin cloud cover.
With darkness falling half an hour ago, so did the fog! No surprise, it's been so clammy today... It's not so very thick - I can see the waxing moon through it.
It's been such a calm day, I've been able to relax and catch up with things - as well as doing the usual extra clearing up that seems to be needed after a rough day at sea. But the vane needing mending is looking at me, wondering why I've not fixed it yet. That's looking hopeful - tomorrow's priority... I've had continually to trim the sails and let out mains'l reefs, unfurl the genoa and then the stays'l, as the wind slowly died down and veered over the day. We've managed to keep going at over 4.5 kt, presently making around 5 kt in 10 kt of NW wind.
Weather outlook is an ever-present concern, taking up a lot of time, even with the excellent help I'm getting. With a deep Low coming this way from S. America in a day or so, and High pressure just to N of us, it's a juggling game trying to be in the right place so as either not to get clobbered by really strong winds or to get caught, finding the High has extended to right on top of us... Heading ENE, as we are now, will hopefully avoid the worst of the Low, expected to pass S of this area on Thursday, overnight into Friday... but by Saturday, we're likely to find ourselves becalmed, or nearly so! It's the usual sequence of 'lots followed by little'... typical of this region of the S. Atlantic/Southern Ocean (very roughly 30-50S), as I first discovered just over a year ago as I came S towards S. Africa in December from the Canaries. Quite different from the predictable Trade Winds sailing I'd got used to, where a weather forecast was almost unnecessary!
8.25pm Just trying to post this - wind has dropped to 6 kt and boat speed is down to 3kt. But seafog has gone and moon is shining brightly......
9pm Wind veered & is up to 10 kt... We'remaking 5.5 kt in NNW wind... But still not managing to connect to send this.... (distance from shore station is greater now...)