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Monday - Fourth of July - SHTP race boats pass close by

Sending good wishes to my US friends, hoping they've had a good Fourth of July celebration today!

Another close call overnight - Chris on "Ventus" one of the SHTP Race leaders (Single-Handed TransPac Race from San Francisco to Hanalei Bay in Kauai, one of the Hawaiian Islands) was about to cross our path very close. My AIS alarm went off and I called him on VHF - he hadn't seen 'Nereida' but had no problem passing well ahead at speed (8+ knots!) once we were in contact, afer a bit of course changing.... Seems his AIS display needed a setting adjustment - was too zoomed out. We had a good chat as on he went..

Not long after, I heard a call on VHF - Steve on "Domino" ( 2nd in the race?) was calling - again we were quite close but he passed astern and we saw each other's sails in the early morning grey light and had a quick chat also. He has receive-only AIS.

I was pleased to hear it is a SHTP Race requirement that they all have at least the receive-only AIS - so much safer - it's busy out here with lots of shipping! They also all have trackers,with posns posted every four hours on the SSS website.

I also heard 'Kato' on the VHF but couldn't make good contact although I got his position - well N of us. Later I joined the 8 a.m. radio Net on SSB and chatted to two more boats. Finally, just before 9 a.m., George on 'Taz!!' ("We met in Hanalei in 2010," he reminded me) called me on VHF as he passed SE, 5 mls off. A chat was cut short by a forestay problem he had to go forward to deal with...

Seems the SHTP race fleet is all headed this way, having started on Saturday around noon, but I think most of the rest will now pass astern. Especially since a lot of them were becalmed soon after the start, so they're well behind - and winds will soon be easing - for me also, as I approach nearer the High centre well to my W, around 40N. I keep missing the time for real-time weather-fax downloads via my radio from the Pt Reyes transmitter - it's nice to see the 2 & 3-day forecasts - and keep track of hurricane Blas, well out to sea, off Acapulco...

My course has been fairly consistently around 300T, occasionally up to 310T - all depending on wind direction, being close-hauled under wind-steering. We're now due W of San Simeon (a favourite anchorage!) and Morro Bay - about 310 mls off.

Winds have got up to ~24 knots again today, with seas to match, so we're being thrown around somewhat again. Sometimes the sun has got out, often it's behind cloud, but it's been quite bright most of the day.

Yesterday also, just before sunset, it got quite boisterous as we passed through an area of broken grey rainy-looking clouds with N winds gusting up to 24 knots, giving 29 kt apparent.

The seas had lain down fairly well during the daytime but now we were being hit rather vigorously by the occasional more aggressive wave.

Talking about waves washing the decks thoroughly, that had been happening so often over the last few days, as we plunged into the frequent big, steep waves, that I found several tiny jelly beings on deck - 'velella velella' is their name, I've been told. A colony,. They are only just over one inch (3cm) long, comprising an oval clear jelly plate which floats on the sea surface with a thick dangling fringe of purple/blue (which somehow catches plankton) and a clear semi-circular 'sail' sticking up lengthwise which catches the wind.. I'm told they can sting but have not experienced that. I'd first seen them in June 2006 when I took part in the SHTP Race and that time there were hundreds of them floating by on a calm sea surface - an amazing sight!

Written by : Jeanne Socrates