Day 9 to CT Some fog.. spectacled petrel.....wind vane repair in hand

Wednesday 13th April 2011

Another relaxed day from point of view of sailing , although as wind veered and we became close-hauled, had to take in 2nd reef to avoid unnecessary heeling - but speed has been quite good over most of the day and it's been nice just to be bouncing about gently, all day long, with occasional slightly greater heeling - nothing much at all!

Overnight yesterday, fog came down again, but eventually lifted over this morning and it became quite pleasant... but fog is lurking again now, with nightfall.

Delighted finally to have seen a solitary Spectacled petrel - I've been on the lookout for one, since they're endemic to Tristan da Cunha which is their breeding ground, and when a dark petrel came by this morning, I watched it for a time to see if it was the usual White-chinned or not - and was rewarded with seeing the white over its beak and white circles around its eyes - unmistakeable! It seemed to be keeping company with several Great shearwaters - they've been around all day, swooping close, on fixed, straight wings and occasionally landing in the water for a rest. Great excitement at one point when clearly there must have been a shoal of tiny fish or something similar - they landed in the sea and kept picking at the surface. Hardly any other birds, except for a few prions for a short while.

Chatted to Steve, VA7SKM, on 'Silas Crosby' at Pacific Seafarers Net time - they're still managing to keep in contact with me, which is really nice - a lot of very friendly people! Only problem was having to turn off all instruments to hear clearly - gets interesting when the autopilot gets turned off for a short while to hear what someone is saying, ... and then the instruments hurriedly turned on again to get the AP working to get us back on course for a short while - on, off, on ,off... and so it went on, until I got fed up and let us go hove to until I'd finished on the radio ... Conditions being fairly calm, it wasn't too myuch of a problem & we didn't lose much distance, talking for just a short while...!! What I was interested in was that Steve, who's on passage from Easter Island (horrible anchorage...!) to Valdivia, Chile, had deployed his Jordan series drogue in 35-40 knot winds, with seas beginning to break (he likened the conditions to those when I was hove to and got knocked down), and he was delighted with its performance.... and how easy he found it to tretrieve... all good news! Had some water get into the cockpit, but very little. They had a good night's sleep!

I finally got around to sorting out the wind vane repair- the good news is that it has broken off below where the solid insert finishes, so there's something to hang onto - the insert juts out beyond the break... I got out the electric drill and managed, with great difficulty, to make small holes to take steel wire.... below the break (into solid metal), well above the break (in the hollow tubing) and through both the tubing and solid insert, when the two were held in place together (all far easier said than done...!) I managed to break three drills - in fact, the first two holes I tried to drill both ended up with broken drills stuck in them and so that was total wasted time and effort - at which point I decided it was tea-time... and time to check sails ... and take photos of the work effort... and of the birds flying very close to us... and finally returned ... to break yet another drill ... which stuck in the hole...!! Chinese quality? I'd obviously bought a bad batch of 3mm drills ..... grrr!!! The first two holes had to be abandoned, but I'd managed to drill cleanly the two top and bottom holes - but only after I'd got out a clamp to use on the steps (bouncing in swell does not help drilling difficult metal with fine drills in unsupported work....!) The final hole had been successfully made but I decided it needed cleaning out and enlarging more - which is when the last drill broke in the hole - but actually no big deal since it's now acting as a pin... Trouble now is that I've to spend quite a time filing down the several sharp edges and bits of drill sticking out, before I can replace the cover over the tubing, having wired the top and bottom holes together for extra security. With the broken drill 'pin' in place in the middle hole, I don't think I need the splints I thought I was going to have to put in place along the tube, across the break.

Today's position/weather report at 1400GMT was as follows:

TIME: 2011/04/13 14:00
LATITUDE: 43-13.00S; LONGITUDE: 040-56.00W
COURSE: 065T; SPEED: 5.0
WIND_SPEED: 16; WIND_DIR: NNW
SWELL_DIR: NNW; SWELL_HT: 2.0M
CLOUDS: 90%; BARO: 1007; TREND: 1
SEA_TEMP: 15.0C

24hr DMG: 117 n.ml. Distance to Cape Town (Gt circle route): 2720 n.ml.

The strong winds are expected to arrive tomorrow later in the day and increase into Friday, with the swell following on behind and getting quite bad (up to 6m/20ft?) .... so I might yet deploy the drogue.... and feel I'd like to just to see how it goes.... I supppose, as in all things, once you're familiar with doing something, it loses its 'worry factor'. Steve also mentioned that people he knows have deployed theirs eleven times - and now do so far sooner than they used to - well before they get scared, as he put it!!

Time to eat and do some more filing down on that vane .....

Written by : Mike

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