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RTW Day 200b: In S.Pacific - squalls... heavy rain blots out solar eclipse ...

Thursday 9th May 2013 (repeated date!)

Just lost my original posting.... so a quick note version now...

Slept very well overnight - too well! Alarm was set on mobile/cellphone as I started a short nap early in the evening - ran out of battery power, so phone shut down - no alarm rang - missed several evening radio scheds... Woke just before first light, before 5am - but just too late to catch the Space Station - again! We were just passing Macaw Bank off to starboard, with underwater peaks rising to within 18-20m of sea-level. Very few clouds and very little swell - but a threatening dark grey band of cloud on horizon ahead.

By 9am, it had became very squally with lots of grey cloud, some towering, others very dispersed - wind up and down - boat speed over 6kt, then down to 1-2kt or less after a squall or in between clouds..... we were in unstable air of the S.Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) One downpour lasted from 11:15am to 12:30pm - very extensive cloud system - strong wind initially, so genoa furled away, but then very heavy rain - visibility reduced to a couple of boat lengths and boat speed down to 2kt for a time - then down to 0.5-1kt for even longer... difficult to keep course... but boat was extremely well rinsed off! That downpour had not long ended when more lighter rain fell for quite a time.

Eventually rain stopped - had heard an odd banging from time to time I couldn't place - now saw it was the radar scanner banging on the stern arch - its welded support had totally come away. I set to, lashing it further to support its weight & prevent any movement and then released tension on the GPS cable - all took a time - and more rain fell as I was perched up on the steelwork - got totally soaked - but air and rain were warm, TG! Luckily, it was fairly calm until I was almost finished when I noticed we were sailing a bit faster and seas were more.

Before I'd started on the radar problem, I'd noticed something odd about our course - we were heading SW! Once finished, I tried to get us back on course - but the wind had changed direction completely - instead of from ESE was now from NW. Fine, I thought, we'll tack around and head E - but found we were heading SE at best... wind had changed again... Tacked around again - best we could manage was NNW-NW - but better to head N than head S, so have stayed on starboard tack.

As I was starting to sort sails out, I'd noticed a frenzy of feeding close by - thrashing in several places near the surface (dolphins?) and a lot of excited birds over a small circular area - unusual, since I've seen almost no birds recently... a possible skua this morning and nothing yesterday...

This evening, we're still only making 340T - NNW - at 2.5-4.5 kt, with wind varying a lot, mainly light. Have unfurled most of genoa to help our speed - hope I don't regret that later....

D.M.G. over 24hr to Thurs 9th May 2300 GMT : 90 n.ml. Sydney: 2151 n.ml. (224T); New Zealand's North Cape: 1507 n.ml. (195T); Vanua Levu (Fiji): 351 n.ml. (188T); W. Samoa:418 n.ml. (118T).

Distance to Strait of Juan de Fuca entrance (Thurs 9 May 2300 GMT): 4548 n.ml.
For my positions and track, see:
www.svnereida.com - 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"

Written by : Mike

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