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RTW Day 196: In S.Pacific: Trying to round Fiji still... wind mostly v. lig

Sunday 5th May 2013

A lovely, peaceful morning - refreshing easterly breeze, a very slight S swell and a relaxing breakfast in the cockpit. I'd had a good sleep - when the boat is making 2kt at most and no hard bits are close enough to worry about, even 4-6 hrs is The good news was that overnight we'd got further from the small reef island of Viwa which was now 25ml to the S. We were making a good course and speed for a few hours - SOG actually got up to 4kt! - before wind slowly died so that, by midday, we were back to struggling to make 1-2kt..... But at least we're moving - and mostly in the right direction, instead of being becalmed, as expected, so that's a double bonus. Another day of these light conditions is forecast before SE Trades set in - hopefully. Down below, curtains are drawn against the heat of the sun, hatch is always open and portlights in the head and galley are open to let some air in acoss the main cabin - it gets very warm. I'm wearing a minimal cotton wrap and have towels to hand everywhere - both to sit on and when writing up the log - I have to rest my wrist and arm on a towel placed partly over the logbook if the page is not to be made instantly wet! Solar panels are doing well.

12:30pm Just had to jump to the wheel to get back on a sensible course - with no engine available to help tack through the wind, always have to gybe around when the mains'l gets backed due to wind dropping right down to give boat speed well under 1kt, resulting in lack of decent steerage... Presently fairly close-hauled ... Oh well, .... as I was writing that, we went off course again - just had jump up into the cockpit again to turn the boat around - clearly today is going to be busy with that happening frequently. I keep the Raymarine plotter on in this situation - the long coloured heading and COG vectors are really useful to show me, at a glance, what's going on .... oops, off course again - speed 0.9kt....... grrr! Certainly getting some good leg exercise today! I'd hoped to catch up a bit on my enormous backlog of emails - that might not get very far, at this rate.

Saw a big, heavy-looking, all-dark bird this morning - really 'flappy' wings, ... went for a fish at the surface - wondered if possibly a skua - seemed to have lighter 'flashes' on each underwing, but not on top (as seen on the Antarctic Skua, SW of Tasmania).

Evening ... a beautiful dark, silent, starry night - the Milky Way looking like a band of cloud across the sky - but it's all stars! No sound of wind in the rigginmg - or of any sound at all, in fact... The sea was so calm that its surface looked glassy and the brightest stars and Saturn were reflecting to give paths of light to the boat. The wind had eventually died away so much by late afternoon that I couldn't get us back on course even gybing, but with boat speed at zero, or nearly so, it really didn't matter, so I was able to relax a bit and get on with jobs I'd hoped to get done earlier in the day - like free a shower fitting that was jammed tight and needed thorough cleaning up once I'd got it undone, have my evening meal (having had no lunch) and clear up in the galley... All followed by a few radio chats in between trying to catch up on those overdue email replies - slow progress there...

As I was furling in the staysail in near-darkness, after sunset, I was surprised by a booby suddenly taking off from the after-deck. I'd seen it earlier, circling a couple of times, checking out the mast top for roosting possibilities, but hadn't realised it had landed there to stay overnight. They normally land higher up, either in rigging, or preferably at the mast top - where they can do a lot of damage to fittings.

D.M.G. over 24hr to 11am LT: 29 n.ml. - no surprise! Sydney: 1718 n.ml. (229T); New Zealand's North Cape: 1080 n.ml. (190T); New Caledonia: 622 n.ml. (239T); Efate (Vanuatu): 477 n.ml. (262T); Vanua Levu (Fiji): 93 n.ml. (091T); Nathula Island (Yasawa Group, Viti Levu, Fiji): 32n.ml. (108T).

By the way, if you have access to 'Yachting Monthly', May issue, there's a feature on my preparations for this nonstop RTW attempt.
For my positions and track, see:
www.svnereida.com - 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"

Written by : Mike

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