Saturday 14th November 09 Day 36 Graceful ocean birds around Nereida
This morning I caught sight of a lone bird swooping and gliding around 'Nereida' - it hardly ever seemed to flap its wings, using the updraught from the waves to keep it airborne, sometimes dipping its wing-tips in the water... so graceful! And this evening around sunset, a group of 'spectacled' shearwaters swooped around us for a long time - I stood in the companionway watching them well after the sun went down, as the light faded. Dark brown birds all over, with black wing tips .. I was puzzled by their head which clearly had a light-coloured bill - but when one came close enough - it had a circle of a light colour around its eyes - just like spectacles - so that's what I've named them!! (Maybe someone can identify them for me?)
The seas have calmed down quite a bit from this afternoon when we were banging about regularly with swell from several different directions making the sea really 'lumpy'. I got so worried about what was coming last night, and sure enough, I had to get in and out of my 'foulies' several times to trim the sails with the big wind shifts that accompanied the heavy rain, but in the end, the rain squalls stopped well before 11 o'clock and the wind died down completely to 5 knots, ending up from ESE - our hoped-for course! Rather than continue heading almost north, with the alternative being WSW!, by 11 o'clock, I'd decided we'd be better off 'hove-to' - so that's what I did - peace and relaxation followed... and several hours good sleep! We drifted with the wind and current a little, but not far.
By 4am, I realized the wind had veered to SSW, so we got going again, gently ambling along, roughly E-ESE, as I wanted, and by 0745, the sun was up and it was a lovely drying morning for all my wet gear of the evening before... Later, the wind backed a little to SSE and has stayed there all day, gusting under several
clouds earlier on, but then getting up to a consistent 18 knots until the early evening - we were well-reefed down and made good speed for a time until the seas built up
We're heading NE now - not quite towards S. Africa, but nearly so!! The wind seems to be slowly backing more, so it's possible that soon we'll have to gybe to keep a good course. Our rhumbline course is 110T from here to S of the Cape of Good Hope, but keeping an eye on the likely weather ahead, I prefer to go NE just now, heading S in a few days time, maybe. "The wind is king"!!
Not surprisingly, having had several hours overnight of zero boat speed while 'hove-to' and then light winds after that, our DMG until noon today is the the lowest ever:
DMG: 46M!! (By log: 65M - partly reflecting the big 'loop' we made before and after heaving-to & partly due to the foul current most of the day. For quite a time, mid-morning - boat speed over 7 knots, SOG around 5 knots!)