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Isla de los Estados and Estrecho de Le Maire left astern....

Thursday 17th March - Happy St Patrick's Day!!

Lovely sunny day today, until later this afternoon, when cloud slowly came over - but so did the wind..... We finally got up to S 22-26kt, occasionally 28kt, from the 4-6 knots SW over most of the day and night - so we're finally sailing nicely! But the wind strength is amazingly variable - so very gusty... one moment I see 14-15kt, a short while later, up to 26kt... but mostly around 23kt from well abaft the starboard beam. Of course, swell has come with the wind, as always, so my stowage below decks has been well tested!

Birds today have been many and varied. they come small, middling, big... very big ... and enormous!! Small, dark, white-rumped, storm petrels flit about, with rapid wingbeats, just above the water, legs dangling and often touching the surface. A (middling -sized) Cape petrel flew past today several times - distinctive and handsome in its black & white mottled plumage....bringing a lovely memory of my first-ever NZ landfall last year when I saw the 'long white cloud' on the horizon and a pair came to greet "Nereida" in bright sunshine at the end of our Tasman Sea crossing from the Bass Strait ... Also middling-sized: several Atlantic petrels - dark above, white below with dark breast, frequently swooping about the boat. Big birds ... the many white-chinned petrels... all dark except for the distinctive white around their yellow beak.

Very big or enormous ... of course: the many albatross gliding close by! Mainly yellow-nosed, not so many black-browed now, occasional grey-faced.... and later this afternoon, several magnificent Royal albatross (New Zealands, possibly) - distinctive in their enormous wingspan , with pure white bodies and dark upper wings... some wings all dark, others with white splashes or with dark wing tips, white with some black below. There was even a dark brown juvenile with its mum (or dad?)!! Last night, I saw several groups of black-browed resting in the water - to sleep in company?

I spent several long sessions in the companionway just watching them all - wonderful!

Weather forecast is for this wind to stay SW into tomorrow, becoming NW later as I approach the Falklands over Friday night - we're still on target for Saturday morning (210 mls to go at 2220 UTC Thurs). I made a thick bean & barley soup today to enjoy hot - but it's not been so very cold today ... or maybe I've become acclimatized after the cold winds of snowy Ushuaia?!

(Daily positions shown via links on my 'Travels' page)

Written by : Mike

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