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End of Day 1 - "The best laid plans o' mice & men..." .....becalmed and struggl

Tuesday 26th October

3pm local time (PDT) - marked the end of Day One - with none of the strong winds forecast ... Instead plenty of flopping about and changing of sail-trim, especially later today, in very light winds of mostly 2-4 knots. So instead of being well clear of Cape Flattery by this evening, I still have well over 15 miles to go - and then it will be a time before I can turn to head south, even with favourable and strong enough winds. At least I'm getting a very helpful ebb tide again tonight.

Most of the small distance made today has been the result of the ebb tide carrying us, needing a lot of effort on my part, trying to keep the sails filled and the boat pointing in the right direction, especially when the tide changed to flood and tried to take us backward .... Not a good feeling when you see the boat has slowly turned around, having no steerage, and is pointing East instead of West ... 7 months too soon!!

I really feel at risk knowing there are rocky shores in places along the Strait and engine power isn't available to help when the wind is so light ..... so I've tried to keep us right in the middle, both of the Strait and, coincidentally, the dividing lane down the middle of the shipping lanes. I've put out several 'Securite' calls to shipping around, to let them know of my situation. The fact that I'm transmitting on AIS (the Automatic Identification System which uses a VHF radio frequency) has been a help - they can see me on their display, with my speed & course, just as I can see them. I shall try to keep well north of Cape Flattery and Tatoosh Island, with its invariably rough seas and nasty Duntze Rock not far off.

I got especially worried last night, several hours after leaving Victoria Harbour entrance, when I first realized that the wind seemed definitely to be dying (I'd put in all 3 reefs before leaving, expecting 25-30 knots or more!). Having stayed close inshore on a long port tack to maximize the favourable current and then tacked around to clear Albert Head, I was now likely to be taken either on to the rocks at Race Rock or through the narrow, rocky channel between the island and mainland, in the strong ebb current. While there was still enough wind to do so, I tacked out into the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca - and with increasingly light winds most of the time, that's where I've been ever since.

Present speed over the ground (SOG) is all of 1.7 knots with zero boatspeed showing on the instruments - possibly the rotating speed impellor isn't turning, having got clogged up, or we really aren't making any way & are just being taken by the ebb tide - that's very likely since the wind strength now is only 4 knots! The most I've seen since leaving is 12 knots... we managed a superb 4-5 knots around midday when the wind gusted up for a short while!

The first two times I tacked the staysail, it flew up in the air - the shackle pin at its foot had come undone. Fortunately, it was still daylight and I was able to pull the sail down in the relatively light wind and secure it both times - but I then tried to make sure it wouldn't happen again by attaching two more shackles to hold the tack down more securely. By then, there were some very steep and short seas, with the strong ebb tide running against the opposing wind down the middle of the Strait, so sitting on the foredeck, figuring out how to fix the problem & then do the job, got a bit cold and wet!

It was altogether a cold, wet, grey afternoon, but I was given a lovely, warm farewell by friends and well-wishers - some in the towboat, skippered by helpful Mark of 'Prince of Whales', and others standing at Ogden Point to see me across my official start line ... and Glenn Wakefield, despite the weather, even made a much-appreciated, special effort to come around from Cadboro Bay in his newly-antifouled boat 'Westwind' - complete with her new mast. It was good to see him there, sailing alongside 'Nereida'. I felt very trepidatious, expecting some strong weather right at the start of my long voyage, so it felt great to have so many supportive, helpful people around at such a time. Thank you, all of you.

Written by : Mike

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