Friday 11th June (Day 9 from NZ to Hawaii) More strong stuff...!!

Fri 11th June A calm, sunny day ends with more of the strong stuff overnight..!!

I was so pleased to hear Abby is safe, despite her rig failure. I'd had several emails and satphone text messages over the day telling me of her Epirbs being set off in the S. Indian/Southern Ocean. I feel for her plight - I've been getting winds, with corresponding seas, building to just over 30 knots since sunset, whereas I hear she had 60 knots...!! That's Southern Ocean weather!

Today was a bright sunny day with seas having calmed right down from yesterday with just a long, slow swell from the SW. Wind was very light and gradually veered, forcing us more & more towards the east.

Pressure dropped slowly over the day as a deep N-S trough to the W and SW of us headed east - I was hoping it would give me stronger, but not too strong, winds since a lot of today the wind had been only 4-5 knots - so I'd been using the 'iron sail', as well as full canvas, in an effort to keep our speed up. By sunset, stronger N winds had arrived and slowly built to around 30 knots - I furled in most of the genoa and reduced the stays'l as we seemed to rush along in the pitch dark with triple-reefed mains'l, the wind making a lot of noise!! I say, "seemed to rush along" since, in fact, we were making very little speed with our reduced canvas - but I needed to see the speed display, or lit water surface with my headlamp, to convince me of that. Eventually, after a very late-night email from busy Bob, I changed course to run more downwind, unfurling some genoa.... much more comfortable and speed right up to well over 6 knots in ~30kt WNW wind. At daybreak Saturday, as I'm about to post this, the wind is still up around 30kt and I expect it to back slowly over today, staying strong, as a front approaches . At 10am local, I'll download a current weatherfax to show me where the trough & fronts have got to - pressure has risen very slightly.

Distance-made-good (DMG) (local) noon Thursday to noon Friday was way down, as I expected... only 111 n.ml. - and that was only made vaguely respectable with the help of some gentle motoring.

I'm wondering how much longer I'll be enjoying the albatrosses and other birds I've seen regularly soaring around "Nereida". I'm sure they don't enjoy the warmer weather - and warmer waters normally mean less life & so less food for them. Of the albatrosses yesterday & today, I've seen a definite immature and an adult Wandering Albatross, (probably, & appropriately, a 'New Zealand albatross' !), .... distinctive juvenile in its all-dark plumage, except for a white face and some mottling on its back and the adult having distinctive white splashes on its dark upperwings. Also a Northern Royal albatross, several Yellow-nosed and, I think, a Chatham Islands albatross. The Grey-headeds I saw yesterday were distinctive! A smaller dark albatross came by this morning with a greyish back - looks like a young Sooty since dark underneath so not a Light-Mantled. Pairs of Cape Petrels have come by regularly - handsome birds and they enjoy circling the boat close by! Pretty prions have flown by - Antarctic ones, I think, but I've not seen any for several days. Several White-chinned petrels were around today - all-dark plumage and a distinctive yellow bill - but then I saw a dark petrel fly right by me with a dark bill and a pale patch around it - clearly a Grey-Faced Petrel, endemic to New Zealand!

Written by : Mike

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