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Sat/Sun 31Oct/1Nov

Days 22 & 23 Seas mainly calmer - less falling off a wave into trough beyond!!

I sat out in the companionway Sunday evening having my meal and watching a bright moon rising over the sea, forming a path of silver light towards the boat, after the sun had set. It was good to see some threatening grey clouds nicely downwind of us... with the sky above and to windward clear! At that time, the seas were fairly calm so it was very pleasant just sitting there, enjoying the scene & being mid-ocean.

I really must thank some of the Winlink guys who give up a lot of their time to running the Winlink amateur radio stations I connect into, using my SSB(HF) radio, to get my emails and weather info as a free service (I have an amateur radio licence). Further north, I was frequently making use of Philip, HB9MM (near Lausanne, Switzerland), Andre, ON5FS (Kluisbergen, Belgium) and Daniel, who runs DA1BT & is the custodian of the Bitburg American Radio Club (Germany). When connections are difficult, I often find one with either VE1YZ (Neil, Halifax, Nova Scotia) or VE2AFQ (Andre, Le Reseau du Capitaine, Montreal, Quebec). Most recently, including today, Bud, N0IA, in Deltona, Florida, has bent over backwards to help me to connect, ... to quote an email I got from him on Friday:

Came in during your 15M link
2009/10/29 21:30:50 {Range and bearing to KC2IOV: 4201 sm @ 114T}
Noticed you struggling about 21:45 GMT
That was off the back of the beam. Turned beam to you ... brought your speed up to 1400!
Sorry I can't be here every time!
Bud N0IA

Basically, he came to his computer while I was in the middle of a slow connection, and turned the antenna my way - to speed things up dramatically! Very kind of him - and he's done that several times... Notice, he's over 4,000 miles away!!

It's becoming increasingly difficult for me to make connections as I sail south. Most stations are getting so far away that I only have a very short period of time each day, on a restricted number of frequencies, when connections are theoretically possible - but in practice often don't happen. So help like his is very welcome. My 'fall back' position is to make the direct Internet connection using my Iridium satellite phone - but that can get wildly expensive so I try to avoid that if possible.

I'm now almost in radio contact with the South African Maritime Mobile Net - run by amateurs who keep tabs on boats transiting the seas around, help them with weather info and keep the S. African Coast Guard informed of boat details etc in case of emergency. I heard Graham, ZS2ABK, today - but I'm in the 'skip' zone for the 14316 kHz radio frequency we're using, so can't make clear voice contact until I get slightly closer. Alistair, ZS5MU, also runs the Net - I met him and wife Davina at their annual 'braai' (BBQ) at their home S of Durban after I'd sailed to S. Africa from Australia in November '07. I've already been invited to this year's event - on 6th December - but regretfully, I've had to decline!

The good news on the watermaker front is that I have found a good length of the right kind of hose among my spares for the repair - but I'm waiting for the waves to calm down before attempting it... Access is difficult enough in a confined space under the aft bunk, without the added complication of being thrown around as we fall off a big wave into the trough beyond...! (I was sitting at the chart table this afternoon when I got hit by apples and oranges - netting had given way with the boat's motion...! And later, a glass of cranberry juice I was treating myself to jumped off the gimballed stove top, where it should have been safe, and spilled... grrr!)

Generally, today and yesterday, we've made fair progress in often variable, gusty conditions but with a definite foul current of well over a knot, especially today:

DMG Saturday: 118M; Sunday: 121M

Written by : Mike

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