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RTW Day 122 - An increasingly rough day - with lotsofbirds!

Wednesday 20th February 2013

Wind died right down overnight on Tuesday, as lightning storm passed over.. At 10pm, I'd noticed the occasional lightning flash in the clouds to the N and the N wind had eased a lot, although we were still making ~4kt. At 2am, I woke to find us drifting (thought we'd gone hove-to!) at zero boat speed, with pressure up slightly from a low of 1000 hPa ..... and the most amazing display of sheet lightning all around, accompanying heavy rain.... Vivid lightning flickering all over the clouds overhead was fascinating to watch - but I'd earlier disconnected or turned off all instruments & radio - put laptop in metal-lined oven and covered the back-up in aluminium foil & stowed it away - in hope that if the pointy thing sticking up in the sky got hit, something might survive...!!

By 3am, I'd got us moving E again, DDW in light wind, with still occasional roll of distant thunder but with lightning dying - still left laptop in oven for safety, though!

By 7am, wind had backed right around - into S where it stayed all day long and into Wed night... On a beam reach initially but later close-hauled as the wind backed to SE and forced us onto a course of NE-NNE for a while. We were so close hauled our speed was killed for time until genoa was unfurled a little - then speed jumped up! Earlier, I was happy to head NE slowly because TS 'Haruna' was looking to be a real threat come Sunday, but after discussing latest weather forecast with Graham, ZS2ABK, on SAMM Net, the good news was that theTS was forecast to stay well N and head E, finally recurving as it dissipated... I hope the SA Weather Service have got that right! It meant I could resume our E course as soon as the wind direction veered to permit it.

A grey, rainy day, with increasingly rough seas and wind strengthening a lot more as night fell - to around 30kt or more.... but with a lot of birds around all day long... (We're passing not far N of Marion Island where many are likely to breed..) Wandering albatross - possibly a family group? - parents and their chocolate-brown young (two seen)... a small group of prions.... and several white-chinned petrels who stayed nearby all day long - they often came very close, in fact! And a yellow-nosed albatross - also came close several times... I stayed on deck a lot, despite the rain, partly for sail trimming and course adjustments but also just to watch them, they were so close, so often!

Sunset was glorious!!! Rain had stopped and there was a long gap in the clouds just above the W horizon..... Vivid orange clouds and sunbeams as the grey clouds were transformed into a fiery mass... with the birds still soaring nearby...

I made a late but brief radio contact with the US W. coast group and some S.African stns this evening. (This morning there had been a lot of static on the 40m band & I gave up quickly) But things were getting pretty rough by then - and soon after, around 8pm, having reduced the genoa & then furled it in completely, as winds seemed to be building more, I decided to heave to so I could relax, eat and get some sleep... so we're presently rocking gently, and I'm feeling more relaxed and far more rested after a few hours' sleep! My hot stew was very welcome earlier!

24hr DMG at 1100GMT: 85 n.ml. Cape Agulhas: 916 n.ml. WP Sth of Cape Leeuwin (Australia): 3307 n.ml. (by Gt Circle)

For my positions, see:
www.svnereida.com - 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"

Written by : Mike

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