Friday 17th February 2012
The day started quite pleasantly, with around 20 knots of NW wind, the sun a red globe under grey clouds on the horizon and clear sky overhead. But at midday, after several squalls earlier, due to passing clouds nearby, a good 40 knot 'blow' came through with heavy rain under a massive grey cloud... In between squalls, the sun got out and it was quite pleasant.... birds were all around - the usual group, including the enormous solitary Royal albatross, with white splashes on its dark upper wings and white body and head.
The cold front passed by this afternoon almost exactly at 4 o'clock- dropped in for tea, as you might say! It was heralded by 32kt winds and rain and followed by drizzle but the sudden windshift from WNW to WSW was almost painless. We deliberately had very little canvas out, making fair speed despite that, and I gybed us onto starboard tack quite easily. I also decided to change course quite a lot, in view of the forecast winds being less than was thought a day or so ago - so, hopefully, that means the swell will also be down on that predicted - 6-10m ... The waves are quite well apart (8-10sec), which makes life easier, but we are still in rough seas just now, so holding on tightly is essential when not in my bunk. (It's actually blowing 36 knots as I write this, so I'm not convinced about the lesser wind predictions!) High pressure is still forecast for this area next week, so I'll be heading ESE from now, when conditions permit, hoping to avoid being headed or becalmed...
A new concern appeared today... It seems that the cyclone 'Giovanna', which has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, after wreaking havoc in the N of Madagascar, is still going strong - and likely to head our way by next week, as is a second one. Both expected to head SE, crossing ahead of our path but not that far away... Hopefully, they'll dissipate rather than keeping going or strengthening. A worrying factor is the sea temperature here - it's up to 24C just now - way warmer than I'd expect - and cyclones feed on warm water...
Not much by way of progress on boatjobs in these rough conditions, although I did try out all three small pumps last night - and every one of them worked! No fuel transfer is possible just now, but it's not urgent either. I ran the genset for under an hour yesterday and for half an hour just now. The wind generator is putting in lots of electrons, most of the time, as are the solar panels during the day.
Time for some hot food, I think. It gets quite cool of an evening!
DMG today: 117 n.ml.