Days 17-19 Happy Easter to you all!

25-27th March 2010 (Days 17-19) HAPPY EASTER!!

Saturday 1230 local time = 0830 GMT Ambling along goose-winged downwind at 4-5 kt in wind from W at 8-10kt

Decided to pause for breakfast (brunch/lunch??!) and treat myself to some grapefruit juice (it's a Holiday weekend, isn't it?) ... but still jobs to do. The main one is dealing with a broken batten, spotted this morning in the grey of a wet, misty dawn... Broken near the mast, where it's unsupported & uncovered over a small section aft of the batten end holder before it enters a now-slightly-torn batten pocket... the same place as the two broken before I arrived in Cape Town. I'd had the battens replaced with new stronger ones in CT but clearly the design of the forward batten-end holder area needs a re-think. It's clearly not up to the job when the boat is being knocked about in swell in light winds - as overnight, when I motor-sailed gently for a few hours. Although the boom is invariably either on a preventer or centred, depending on the point of sail, the sail still flaps at times as we roll in a larger wave in light winds.

So I climbed a short distance up the mast to try to push the end in (sticking out a good foot or so (30cm)) ... having to time my efforts with the swell. I put pressure tape around the splintered end, tying myself to the mast to do so, and tried again... I could get it in so far, but just not enough. Re-think... Then it suddenly occurred to me that if I couldn't get the batten in properly, so it stayed in securely, I wouldn't be able to tack the sail around without almost certain damage to it as the batten broke more, which I'd expect, or maybe rip the sail if it didn't break. I was going to have to remove the batten completely.... not easy ... and it's long...!!

Other little jobs: tidying up lines in the cockpit, re-routing a chafing 'tie-down' for a running backstay , re-attaching a staysail sheet, tightening a lazyjack ... generally checking around for unforeseen problems & tidying up....

A new problem I came across while motor-sailing overnight was finding the rev counter on the engine display panel was no longer working - a pain, that, because I want only to motor gently, at minimal revs ... Will have to be done by sound of motor & positioning of gear lever now, unless I can fix it.... Add that to the joblist!

Thursday & Friday were notable for lack of birds around, in grey, sometimes rainy, conditions (just like today) as we made slow to reasonable speed in shifty, variable winds, mainly from the N quadrant. With less strong winds, the swell gradually lay down, but is always there. Thursday afternoon & early evening, for a few hours, we did very well in stronger winds - NNW 14-18kt - making over 8 knots at times ... but then the wind died down, to 8 knots! And last night, around midnight, the wind went SE from ENE & died right down to 4 knots - the reason for the engine being started for a time!

I tried to download weatherfaxes from Wiluna, Australia, but no radio reception - too far away still, clearly.

Sea temperature is mainly down at 17C & air feels damp all the time (humidity 82%) - 'dry' clothes are damp to the touch - but air temp is 22C and with little wind, it doesn't feel too cold - but I am in my ski socks and fleece layers..!

Well, I'll finish my brunch with a boiled egg (the nearest I'll get to celebrating Easter!) and then deal with cooking a meal (a 'hash') in the pressure cooker for the next few days. Unless I get cooking before nightfall, I've not been inclined to do so .... After my ratatouille was finished, I've been making use of biltong (S. African dried meat), nuts, dried fruit, biscuits and crunchy oatmeal bars - all very healthy but not the same as a hot, cooked meal. This afternoon's job is to try to sort out that batten .... No rush, since winds are supposed to stay W-SW, and light, for next day or so, gradually backing to S-SSE over Sunday, so I expect to stay on this starboard tack for a while yet, but it's best to be prepared so as not to get caught out...

Oh yes ... seems my back-up 'cooked & doused' computer is playing 'dead' - hopefully just a battery problem, since it doesn't seem to want to accept charge - and I don't have a spare battery...

Just before 4pm (local time) today,(1200 UTC), the wind backed to the SSW and strengthened... I put in the 2nd reef - that might help in removal of the broken batten which is also now easier to reach. With the stronger wind and clearer sky, the birds have appeared again ... petrels, an albatross and prions (possibly - ID still unsure!). Nice to see some blue sky & the sun. And it's also nice to see the waxing moon appear toward evening - getting quite large now.

Noon-to-noon distances :

Thursday 25Mar10: 146 n.ml.
Friday 26Mar10: 127 n.ml.
Saturday 27Mar10: 100 n.ml. (L-shaped course with wind shifts...)

(Positions/track shown on Google Earth accessed via 'Travels' page on website)

Written by : Mike

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