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Days 223-4 Mon-Wed 13-15 May 2019 Excellent progress made in strong conditions - but then knocked down...

Tuesday 6am LT (Mon 1900 GMT) Wind still just under 30kt from WNW with occasional lulls to 23kt. Seas big and conditions quite rough - being thrown around a lot. Adjusted course to keep well-furled genoa filled as wind has backed more towards W - will gybe onto starboard and get back on course.

9:30am Rain clouds are clearing away to give some blue sky but no sunhine yet. Seas still 6m or so and wind often 30kt - from WSW now - but frequently drops to 22-25 kt.

Changed over from genoa to staysail earlier, ready for expected stronger winds but might need to put out some genoa if wind drops much - would be nice to keep up a fair speed so as to round Stewart Island in daylight if at all possible.

A wave just crashed onto our beam - makes quite a noise and we lurch sideways all of a sudden.

Feeling quite chilly at 15C/59F sea and air temperature - wearing plenty of fleece layers ... and my warm hat.

10:40am Sun has got out nicely, although quite a lot of cloud around - but white, not rain clouds. Pressure has risen to 1004hPa.

Having problem posting yesterday's blog via the Iridium connection - so sending now via my reliable SSB/HF radio! System keeps not getting a connection, no matter how often I re-boot it...

1:30pm Sun has disappeared behind a big grey rain cloud. Wind has remained down since earlier this morning- around 23-27kt.

Looks as though wind will be very strong (35-40kt or more, and gusting higher) from tonight and through tomorrow - so I'm getting some sleep now to make sure I don't get overtired when those conditions arrive.

Hoping to arrive at Stewart Island in between two strong systems - would be better to be near land in lighter winds and seas.

4:20pm Had a good nap. Sun getting low and a lot of cloud now. Being thrown around a lot by the big sea and wind is around 30kt.

Prions are swoopng around and saw an albatross land in the water nearby earlier for a rest - they often do so.

7pm Wind over 30kt now - will shortly furl in the small amount of genoa that's presently flying. Wind is forecast to increase to 40kt overnight so no need for anything but the stayaail and will furl that in a touch, also.

Later: Not only furled in the genoa completely, but also furled in quite a lot of the staysail. Wth 40kt winds, gusting higher, expected soon, don't need much sail, especially if speed is to be kept down, as I'd like.

10:20pm Finished radio sched on 7163 - we usually move, as we did tonight, to another frequency, to lose the data noise there - was nice to make contact with Yves in Noumea, capital of New Caledonia, to the North.

In very strong conditions now - wind 40kt, often higher... The seas are constantly throwing the boat around and we're often surfing for a very short while as the waves pass by and take us with them.

Wedesday 5:45am LT (Tues 2245 GMT) Running under small staysail in very rough conditions all through the night - winds around 40kt, often up to 47kt or more, and big seas at 7-8m, often surfing on a wave at around 12kt, as it overtakes us - for only a very short time, fortunately! Winds have backed to W now, from WNW overnight and are likely soon to be from WSW. Frequently hear a thump on the hull as a wave hits the boat.....

(Wed 7pm) ........at which point, I got very wet because we were knocked down by a wave crashing into and over the boat - violently.

Fortunately, I was completely unhurt , although soaking wet from head to feet. Couldn't figure that out at the time but in daylight, later, realised it was because the overhead dorade had been completely taken away by the water action, leaving quite a big hole above me, in the coach roof. The cabin was in wet chaos with a lot of papers, notebooks etc joining lots of tubes etc from the head shelves and locker - one locker door had come off completely and the inside contents thrown across to the galley. I couldn't move for wet stuff littering the floor

What a disaster...!

I was relieved to see the autopilot was still working fine, as were the instruments - except for the wind display - gone completely again - damn! But there was a weird vibration in the boat I couldn't understand... and not long afterwards, the autopilot began to have a problem keeping us on course - in fact, it simply could not and we were now heading NE instead of SE, at 3kt or less, instead of our previous 5-6kt or more.

By now it was getting light so I was able to go up to see what damage there was on deck. Staysail intact, as was all rigging, but one solar panel was missing (so solar power gone from that point on) and the wind generator vibrating madly, making the steel stern arch do the same...

Even worse, the two bags holding the JSD (series drogue) were missing - I soon realised we were, in fact, lyig to the drogue ih big seas an wind still - so not such bad thing except I wasn't sure it was all deployed properly. It had clearly gone out from between the arch port side supports and I worried it might take the arch with it.. I went aft and managed to get the line around the nearby cleat. I saw a line of cones in the water but no bridle in use - so at least some of it was out OK. The staysail needed to be furled in ... and the wheel centred. Seas and wind were impressively high.

I left the wind generator rotating, thinking it was giving power - but then realised that was not happening - so stopped it - and the awful vibrations stopped. Later, I saw that one of the blades was completely missing - vibrations explained...

Soon after that, the second solar panel came free in the strong wind and began swinging around loose as it tried to leave ship - but was held by two securing lines I'd rigged. It was threatening to damage the radar and other equipment, so I had to go aft and release the lines so it could break free - another gift to Neptune.

In between all this, I was trying to clear up the wet mess in the cabin while wondering if i would be able to continue on or have to pull in somewhere for repairs. I contacted Taupo Maritime Radio with a 'Pan Pan' call to inform them of my situation and we agreed a regular radio 'sched' to keep them updated with my status. I had a radio sched with Peter, ZL1PWM, so told him and asked him to keep a sched on 7150 for me later on to let radio friends know what had happened.

Power will now be a problem - radio takes a lot, as does the autopilot, and I'll be dependent on the small generator alone for battery charging from now on. I'll be checking my diesel stored on board to see how much is left and calculate usage likely for the next two or more months.. I'll probably have to hand steer quite a bit now, in order to conserve fuel and radio use will need to be a lot less - maybe just brief emails with very little voice - i'll have to see how that works out.

As a result of Colin's help yesterday, I now know what to try to get the Aurora working when it goes down - so spent a time this afternoon trying to get it working (It had been disconnected, and so stopped, in the knockdown). I finally succeeded when I found a corroded terminal pin needing cleaning. Spoke to both MRCC New Zealand and Taupo Maritime Radio to confirm their telephone numbers, in case needed - and agreed a less time-consuming sched with Taupo Radio - by phone, as needing less power use.

Got out a dry duvet and pillow from the aft cabin - the port bunk is sodden and unuseable but, luckily, the starboard bunk is relatively dry.

Checked the PC - not water-damaged, as feared, so useable - :-)


While sailing around the world, I'm trying to raise funds to help support the superb life-saving work done by the RNLI (Lifeboats) in Britain each and every day of the year, regardless how bad the weather. In fact, the worse it is, the more likely they are out there, helping someone in distress - whether a swimmer, surfer, small boat or big ship, night or day, summer or winter. They are all volunteers with normal day-jobs who respond immediately to a call and it is a charity - no government funding - so they rely on our help to fund their intensive training and maintain their equipment.

It would be great if you would take a moment to click on the Lifeboats link here (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jeanne-Socrates2), if you'd like to show your support for my efforts at sailing solo, nonstop, unassisted around the globe, trying to set a World Record as the oldest person to do so, by donating something towards the great work the RNLI do every day. If a lot of people put in even a small amount, it all adds up... Thanks a lot! If you can help, it will be very much appreciated. Let's see if we can reach my target!


1900GMT (= 6 a.m. LT) - end of Day 223. We made 115 n.ml. DMG, over the 24 hr period, measured in a straight line between the two 1900 GMT positions.

Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 223 (by daily DMGs):19,292 n.ml.

Distances (at 1900GMT): SW Cape, NZ: approx 150 n.ml ESE

Position & weather report for 1900 GMT just after knockdown, posted to www.Winlink.org and www.Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):

TIME: 2019/05/14 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 46-43.00S LONGITUDE: 163-25.00E



BARO: 998hPa TREND: -2 AIR_TEMP: 15.0C SEA_TEMP: 15.0C

COMMENT: Soon after knockdown, early on 15th May LT

Written by : Jeanne Socrates