Sat/Sun 17/18th October -What a night..! Lightning... Tropical Wave... no wind.

Sat 17th Oct (Day 8) Midday, we were 240 nm West of Dakar (Senegal, W. Africa) and about the same distance E of the Cape Verde Islands.

Quite early in the day, I shook out the reef in the mains'l - and spent a lot of the day trying to figure out what to do about the chafe on the line near the reefing point on the luff. I fixed a block there in the hope it might ease the lead of the line down into the boom where it had been rubbing - we'll see if that helps.

The day was calm, hot and humid - I got very hot and sticky and enjoyed a shower late in the afternoon, as we were sailing along very peacefully and gently at just over 5 knots.

I inspected all the shackle pins after noticing that one (on a running backstay) was almost out - close thing!
Jan of Navalectrics in Puerto Calero has been really helpful via emails over my watermaker problem - hopefully, that's all resolved now... Thanks, Jan!

24 hr DMG to noon: 136 nm

Sun 18th Oct (Day 9) 250 nm due W of River Gambia ... and a long way due E of Barbados!!

At 2am, I had to take the genoa off its pole and over to starboard - the wind had dropped right down to ENE3 (8 knots) but we were sailing fine. The sky was overcast, except for hazy stars showing directly overhead, and clouds in the E and S were lit up frequently with lightning & there was occasional faint thunder. I'd been warned a Tropical Wave would pass over with a lot of wind changes but no great problems expected.

Within half an hour, the lightning was very frequent and the grumbling of thunder was constant. The wind backed into the NE and I adjusted the windsteering (Hydrovane) to keep us headed SSW - it was still very humid and calm, with almost no waves or swell. It all felt quite weird in the darkness, with the calm sea occasionally lit up by the brighter flash of lightning.

Another hour passed - HEAVY rain started! ... and the wind veered from NE to ESE. It then backed quickly E2... (boatspeed 1.4 kn!)...NNE 1-2...NNW 2...NW2-3(SOG 1.4kn)... W... WSW ... the rain stopped ... just half-an-hour had passed!
Only 5 mins later, the rain started up again with the wind veering to NW1-2 - heavy, with lots of lightning & loud thunder around ... boat speed 0.0!! Ten mins later, the wind had backed again into the WSW .. and one hour later, all was calm, I'd stowed the pole, sorted the mess of lines & sheets but there was NO wind. Lightning continued to flicker for a time and soon after 6am, we were making over 1 knot in roughly the right direction but with the wind anywhere from WSW to NW.

0730 - heavy rain again! I finally needed a jacket to stay warm in the wet, windy and highly variable conditions and by 1130, realized it was time I had some breakfast!! Thinking things had settled down, I relaxed - only to realize the wind was swinging all over and dying ... the story of today!! According to the log, we made 3 mls in 5 hours this evening.... so we're not exactly breaking any speed records!!

Not surprisingly, today's DMG is down from the last few days: 93 nm (mainly due to the reasonable sailing conditions yesterday and some strong wind in the rain this morning)

I hate to think what tomorrow's 24hr DMG will be - I'm told (and gribs also indicate) that the very light winds will continue for two or more days .... patience...!!

POSTSCRIPT: Don't you hate it when you've worked hard writing - only to lose it without trace due to a PC glitch?? I'd written my 2-day report in full early this afternoon and was about to connect in to post it early when, to my horror, I saw the sentences disappearing rapidly of their own accord.... Why?? I don't know... and then, to make matters worse, a chunk of unsent (and sent) emails went the same way - irretrievably..!!! It was as though the 'mouse' had a mind of its own - I wondered if the lightning around overnight had somehow sent it crazy?? All that definitely sent me crazy (:o).... and gave me a lot of unnecessary work tonight!

PS2 A lovely, favourable current is still working for me (has been S-going over most of the day) - boatspeed: 1.9kn; SOG: 3.1kn!! In SSE 4-5kn of wind, we're managing to make a course of 230T.

Written by : Mike

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