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Day Twenty from Cape Town to Hobart - gentle day's sailing .., and a young albat

Sunday 26th February 2012

Much calmer conditions this morning, after a night of NW following winds around 30 knots with much-reduced canvas. We surfed often in the big seas (~6-7m), but not too fastl! Wind backed to WSW with a cold front passing over around dawn, so I had to gybe onto starboard tack. Sky cleared nicely for a time - lovely, gentle, sunny sailing... By midday, sky was overcast and it was raining slightly in slightly increased winds - to around 23 knots.. Seas still quite big, so we have been rolling gently, on a broad reach - all day, in fact. Well before sunset, most of the cloud had cleared away. The pressure has slowly risen over the day - there's a High pressure area just N of us giving us the present nice conditions, but there's also a small Low developing to our SW which is forecast to bring some stronger winds on yet another Cold Front, with its associated wind shift, later tomorrow and into Monday night.

Spent a lot of time looking up Australian and New Zealand radio and weather info for emailing to Greg (VE0MUR) - a Canadian single-hander, who's just left Kerguelen on 'Alcidae' - he also comes up on the S.African M.M.Net each morning. I first met him on the radio when I was sailing from Gough Island (S of Tristan da Cunha) in April last year, on my way to Cape Town. Sorting out the info has been a useful exercise, ready for when I get closer to Australia - their weather info is readily available by radio and it's accurate, as is that of New Zealand. All it takes is getting the timing right for listening to their voice weather forecasts and weatherfaxes.... a good alarm is vital!

Fresh coffee as a Sunday treat!

Sunshine most of the day... Sailing along pleasantly, despite the still big seas. 5-7m, I'd say - always difficult to judge but when they get this big, I imagine looking out from an upstairs window, down into the troughs, to try to gauge how big the seas are! It's quite a long swell - often 8-11 secod interval - which is what makes it acceptable when the wind is down.

Having slowed down last night, as a precaution, when winds got to 28-32 knots just before midnight, we didn't beat any distance records today:
DMG a mere 109 n.ml.! With sunset approaching, I just furled in some more genoa with winds gusting up ... and they promptly died back! The current is cutting our boatspeed down from 6 kt to nearer 5 kt.

It was time to watch the the birds and seas as the sun went down. There was the cresent moon - shining silver bright through bright pink, thin clouds - a lovely effect! And later, there were Venus and Jupiter both shining brightly, seemingly equidistant from the Moon - Venus at 9 o'clock and Jupiter at 1 o'clock.

I'd been watching the White-chinned petrels that seem to be keeping us constant company when I suddenly realised that one of them had a lot of white on its face ... Having just thought I'd not seen any albatross for a day or so, there, gliding around on long, fixed wings, was a juvenile Wandering Albatross - chocolate brown upperwings and body, large white area on face with pale bill, pale underwings with black tips... Fabulous! A good end to a relaxing day, as I watched many more stars appear in the clear sky overhead!!

Written by : Mike

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