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Day Four from Cape Town to Hobart - fickle wind, plenty of birds, wind generator working properly

Friday 10th Feb 2012

I sat up for quite a long time last night, watching how we were doing in the strong winds, heavy rain and increasing swell behind the strong cold front that had arrived so very suddenly. We were speeding along at around 7knots, on a comfortable broad reach, heading ENE instead of ESE - but so what? - at least it was East-ish! The swell was spaced apart well enough not to cause any problem - so I finally went below and actually had a good sleep until dawn at 0410 GMT (6.10am LT) when I was alerted by a 'low battery' alarm - bad news when the genset is playing up!

I hurriedly started the engine to charge the batteries which were far too low and, after charging for quite a time, realized that the wind generator wasn't turning as it should have been in the 27-30 knots of wind - it should have been spinning like mad, but was only turning very slowly. I went down to check the fuse. As I removed it, the generator started up and kept on spinning nicely when I replaced the fuse firmly... It was now putting lots of power into the batteries and with the clearing sunny skies giving solar power as well, we were putting in almost 20 A with everything in sight working - instruments, autopilot, radio, fridge and inverter - excellent! Cheered me up a lot, since I was beginning to get worried about our fuel situation if the engine had to be run very frequently just to keep up with our power consumption. (I haven't yet got any further in seeing why the genset is playing up)

Seas had become a good size by morning - easily 4-6 m - but were not breaking and, being on our quarter, were still posing no threat, just making life on board a bit of a balancing act at times...

The wind slowly veered from SW to W over the day, becoming highly variable under a cloudy sky - often very light in between clouds under which it gusted up considerably, giving us good speed for short time. Pressure dropped slowly all day - from the 1004 hPa of last night to 999 hPa tonight - and, at sunset, the wind backed the sails in shifting from SSW to NE and I had to gybe onto port tack. The sky was clear overhead but there was a dark grey mass of cloud astern. I think the wind shift was due to us being right by the centre of a second Low which is passing over now - pressure now is 997hPa and the wind is NNE 19kt & expected to increase, so I'll proably be furling in the genoa very soon or overnight. We're presently having a lovely sail, gently bouncing along SE - on port tack, so I've had to change to my starboard bunk!

It was good to see several Yellow-nosed albatross, as well as a Black-browed (which was seen yesterday), keeping company with us and several white-chinned petrels all day long, often landing in the water nearby when we weren't moving much in light winds.

Written by : Mike

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