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Days 15 and 16 from Hobart

Tuesday 15th May 2012

A difficult couple of days -big , rough seas & winds regularly up in the 30s - consistently around 37kt overnight yesterday and still around 30 kt now (just gusted up to 34kt) - with more strong conditions expected soon. I went to heave to finally last night with the wind staying up around 35kt -only to find the stays'l furling line was stuck so I couldn't furl in the sail ... At dawn, I saw the reason (a stuck sheet) and was then able to heave to - getting some much-needed sleep for a few hours... before getting underway again in 24kt early this afternoon.

Wind has been mainly from N-NNW and we headed just N of E for quite a time in the hope that would avoid even stronger conditions as a deep complex Low came by. Pressure is still down at 987, having dropped to 983 hPa this afternoon. We're in a deep trough, waiting for the wind to back into the W-SW and strengthen more - good Southern Ocean stuff!!

It's been wet and cold, with outer clothing feeling thoroughly damp to put on each time I've gone on deck. With the small generator deciding not to work (I ran the main engine this afternoon to charge batteries), all the more reason to use Fred to steer us under windpower. Went to use the newly-fixed autopilot earlier - it was fine for quite a time, but finally decided it was not well. I've not yet investigated but expect to have to change in the the hydraulic pump from the second AP system on board when things are calmer. In the meantime, Fred is coping well so long as I fix the wheel slightly to leeward in strong conditions to avoid heading up in the gusts.

The generator problem is due to overheating and lack of seawater getting to the cooling circuit. I loosened the seawater strainer cover to allow the water to rise up the pipework but that didn't help. The impellor cover is virtually impossible to remove in situ, so another job for calmer conditions will be to remove the seawater pump completely to check the impellor - that's actually far easier! (I have a spare pump ready, just in case of other problems).

It's been good to have supportive, friendly chats by radio with people - Kiwi/Aussie nets in the mornings, regular contact with Taupo Radio and Bluff Fishermen's Radio (Meri) and the Pacific Seafarers Net. Ian on Coast Radio Hobart even came up to greet me on Monday and pass on a message from Mary of Smithton Radio (in Tasmania) and there's usually contact on 14300 at any time if I want or need it. I've even made contact with a Dutch group - amazing to chat to Belgium & Holland from here!

Time to catch up on some more sleep - finished my very welcome stew tonight, so must make another tomorrow...

DMG Monday: 137 n.ml. Tuesday: 108 n.ml. (despite heaving to for a while!)

Written by : Mike

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