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Saturday - grey clouds, big seas, wind up to 25kt again

Gusty conditions today under grey rainclouds - but no rain so far.

Made slow progress despite plenty of sail and good wind, mostly around 20 kt- but beating into strong wind, heeled a lot we've been very slow - often only 3-4kt. Decided to take in 2nd reef - and immediately speed was better - we had been over-canvassed and heeling too much and heading up as a result. Also, having changed to the windsteering, the Hydrovane couldn't overcome the weatherhelm before I reefed down. Now it's coping fine.

Until early today, wanting to try to keep heading W, I'd been using the autopilot to steer the boat, but ran into power problems, not helped by the genset not wanting to start (possibly short of oil). I was forced to charge the batteries using the main engine - with precious diesel used as a result. With the windsteering not needing power, and the strong wind powering up the wind generator, the batteries are now well charged without any diesel used. There was not much input from the solar panels today, except around midday, when there was a brief break in the clouds and the sun got out - then I saw 17 amps going into the batteries from the solar panels - excellent!

It's been a rough day again with the strong wind preventing the seas from lying down. Beating into big waves means frequent banging and lots of boat motion as we fall into troughs off the top of the waves. Heeling over with all that motion, I'm frequently needing my strong steel armrest to stop me falling out of the chart table seat.

It's satisfying to have been making a course to the WNW today. The wind should soon shift to N, with 20kt NNW-N winds being forecast for the next few days, so we should manage to maintain a good course, although being close-hauled, I just have to accept that our speed won't be very good until we can ease the sheets and fall off the wind more...

Written by : Jeanne Socrates