Sunday 17th March 2013 - Happy St Patrick's Day!
Midday A lot of blue sky, but cloud from N keeps trying to spread over... We've had a small flock of prions wheeling around all morning, with several Atlantic petrels and the occasional glimpse of an all-dark shearwater with long, thin wings - most likely a Sooty, but possibly Short-tailed (which breeds in S.Australia) - not sure which, but very distinct from the dark White-chinned petrels we've had around for so long. (Note: It's been suggested that the Atlantic petrels I've been mentioning are well outside accepted range and may in fact be Soft-plumaged - but they don't have the all-dark upperparts that I'm seeing on birds with dark breast band and underwings, but otherwise light underparts - will have to look more closely tomorrow, when they'll probably be around again, and note precisely their upper- and underparts' coloration/markings -maybe take photos, if at all possible)
I'd set an alarm when I settled down for the night soon after 1 a.m.. The rain ahead of the Cold Front was already with us, the wind was expected to back more to the W behind the Front and I knew our course under Fred's wind-steering would change with the wind. Already, I'd poled out the stays'l to port, goosewinged, with the mains'l fully sheeted out to starb'd - on preventer, as always ... I'd set us on our course of 095-100T, which was then close to dead downwind.
Three hours later, the Front had passed over, the moonless sky was full of bright stars and the Frontal cloud could be seen clearing away ahead. With the wind now from WSW, it was time to gybe the mains'l over to port, get the stays'l off the pole ... and get us back on course! By the time I'd finished, there was just a hint of pre-dawn light in the E sky.
Wind was much reduced so, under the early morning clear sky and lovely bright sunshine, I added in some genoa to increase our speed - we've been making mostly 4.5-5.5 kt since then, in slightly gusty conditions under frequent clouds... It's clearly time to shake out that third reef ....
I was able to download the latest grib files around 7.30 a.m., showing that these 10-20 kt WSW-WNW winds will continue, with possible brief stronger conditions late Wed ... and maybe again later in the week - but that's too far for accurate forecasting! Thought I was downloading the 0730Z weatherfax (at 1:30 p.m. LT) to confirm current weather situation ... Busied myself with other things while I listened to a very good signal - and then found nothing had been downloaded ... grrr!!! Checked the next wxfax to make sure it doesn't happen again... It started out fine, but halfway through it degraded to a messy blur as the signal faded. Band conditions were expected to be difficult today with Friday's solar flare affecting us now.
Seas are rolling us around at times - lots of small wind-waves on the surface, some white horses (showing wind is a F4!) and the underlying SW swell of just over 3m/10ft. Air feels quite cool - cabin temp was 13C overnight and, despite sunshine, has reached only 17C.
4:30 p.m. Ambling along in light wind, very pleasant ... sunny sky, rather rolly ... but slowed right down again... ~4-4.5 kt!
Sunset was not long after 6pm - we're not too far from moving our clock forward another hour again... Getting close to W. Australian time! With clear sky overhead just then, saw a lovely cresent moon - not seen the moon for quite a few days ... partly due to frequent overcast skies.
Made usual 40m contact with US W coast tonight - Seattle (Eric, WA7LNH) was clear and Oregon was not bad, but California (Mark in SD) was almost impossible - contact with S.A.M.M. Net was also bad earlier. That solar flare could be affecting the bands badly - we'll see what tomorrow brings... Soon after dawn, had made contact with E coast, despite Russian DX contest (!) and solar flare making things difficult for them - heard from Ivan, VE7IVN ... sent 73 to friends in Gt Northern Boaters' Net (Pacific NW - B.C. - Alaska)!
Time to go and adjust Fred to correct our course - we've been gradually starting to head SE in veered wind from W ... will possibly have to gybe the mains'l back to starboard side again soon and go goose-winged with poled-out headsail.
DMG at 1100 GMT: 110 n.ml. C. Leeuwin: 1151 n.ml. (066T); WP due S of C. Leeuwin : 913 n.ml: King Island (entrance to Bass Strait) : 2201 n.ml. ; SE Cape of Tasmania: 2244 n.ml.
For my positions, see:
www.svnereida.com - 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"