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RTW Day 179: Across the Tasman Sea - drifting in big circles, difficult to keep

Thursday 18th April 2013

9:30am Bright sunny start to the day, light wind, long SE 2m swell... feeling warm and fairly calm, with just a gentle rocking...
Just tacked around, after lowering and stowing the pole I'd left out... and then tacked back again, each taking a long time in the light wind! With wind from due E now, my choices were to sail due S (or slightly W of S) or due N - so choice was clear ... but we're sometimes moving slightly W of N - how I hate going backwards!! My preferred course is ENE... so this is the best we can do at present until the Low giving the present E wind moves on. Seems I'm having to get my head around idea of heading N - and tacking to get there, what's more! Wind directions are not forecast to be very helpful - and remaining light.
Time for some breakfast, been up since 7am. Radio contact on 20m has been excellent this morning, with very little noise on frequency.

7:30pm Day became increasingly cloudy but with plenty of sun getting through until late afternoon. Furled in genoa soon after sunset, having tacked around yet again in almost no wind ... Have tacked several times today, in an effort to keep heading N or E - but we've spent most of the day just drifting around at 1kt, often due W or NW, once SW - so frustrating! We seem to be in the middle of a Low pressure system - no wind to go anywhere after last night's strong conditions when at least, with wind, we could make way. Supposedly, we're expecting NW wind at some point, so I decided that, if we're to continue drifting around, it should be with Fred trying to keep us on port tack, so that if the NW wind does come up, we'll head in a good direction, rather than losing hard-won ground.
Present speed is 0.7kt! At that rate, direction becomes irrelevant, although it's nice to see us heading E for a change, as I write this. Have left mains'l to give better motion - helps stop excessive rolling in the mixed 2m swell that we're in.
Spent more time today looking over weather and routeing options for getting N - all looking highly uncertain since so much depends on weather systems encountered and no guarantee of helpful winds to get further E, as I'd hoped. Certainly, so far in the Tasman Sea, I've been forced to sail in unexpected directions due to the wind we've had. Priority is now simply heading N or E, rather than S or W, and light winds make achieving a good course that much more difficult. We're now 12 miles N of where we were 12hrs ago - but 5 miles further W - gets difficult to stay feeling positive!

10:15pm The wind has just come up nicely - from the S, not from the NW... so we're on starboard tack, making 4-5 knots heading NE - and I'm feeling so much better to be sailing again! I was seated at the chart table and suddenly realised that there was the noise of wind in the rigging - not much, but enough to get me on deck to check things out, adjust Fred and unfurl the headsails... Good news!

D.M.G. over 24hr to 10am LT: 89 n.ml. Hobart: 858 n.ml. (SW) ;Sydney: 567 n.ml. (W); New Zealand's North Cape: 513 n.ml. (E)
For my positions and track, see:
www.svnereida.com - 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"

Written by : Mike

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