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Sun-Tues 29Nov-1Dec09 Days 51-53 A magnificent Wandering Albatross greets 'Nereida"...!

29Nov-1Dec09 Days 51-53 A magnificent Wandering Albatross visits 'Nereida" as she struggles to make landfall against contrary winds....!

This magnificent, enormous albatross came close, looked me in the eyes, circled a few times and flew on its way! Quite different from the regular pair of yellow-nosed Atlantic albatrosses that have been keeping me company, on & off for several days, along with some other birds . It was mainly white with wings mainly dark above but with a white 'splash' above its 'elbows'. An awesome sight, with its big body, powerful wings and cruel-looking, dark, long, hooked beak.

Sunday 29th November
Grey & cold - 16C sea temperature! I began to get very concerned by the prospect of tacking north and south forever and never getting close to Cape Town...! We were slowing right down by evening, in a High of 1028 and the wind in the wrong direction, forcing me to go NE! But better to go NE, I thought, than SW!! Wind was S at dawn, SSE at midday & SE by evening & overnight.... so our COG was E-ESE at dawn, but NE by late evening. Trying to keep going East, I decided I'd tack around as soon as it was sensible without letting myself get too far N ..

That morning, I treated myself to my last fresh grapefruit with my breakfast(I find they often keep really well for a long time!)and made a nice Sunday lunch in an effort to cheer myself up! Menu: chicken in white sauce (tinned - but tasted fine!) with potatoes (fresh boiled!) and petits pois (tinned), followed by dried but moist prunes and apricots & a fresh apple.

Monday 30th November
Cold & grey again. Before dawn,at 0400UTC, wind was ESE 9kt, in direction of Cape Town, and we were making due N, so I decided it was definitely time to tack around - after which we made 167T, becoming 180T as the wind shifted! Not good news!! COG was 175T at noon with the true wind up a little from 9kt to 11kt, later to 13kt, at which point I put in the 2nd reef because we were heeling a lot, banging into the swell. Around 1700, we were still only making 170T or worse - at which point the big Wandering Albatross came by - maybe it knew I needed something to cheer me up?? And maybe it came by to bring better luck than the backing E wind I'd had for most of the day...
It had just not been possible to go E or ESE - and with at least 2-3 days more of contrary winds being forecast, I was feeling so very frustrated... By now, I was quite looking forward to Cape Town but my ETA had slipped badly from the original 2nd Dec to who knows when...!!
My comment in the noon weather/position report was:

"Inverted 'V'- ENE-NE-NNE-N & now S!! DMG: 48M, by log120M "

At that point, our heading was 190T - not exactly useful, except was getting us S - which was better than going N since there's a strong N-going current (Benguela) around the Cape area.... so boats need to be well S & approach from the SW...

Part of my intense frustration was in not knowing which way to head for the best.... I even considered heaving-to to avoid going NW - but felt that the prevailing current would probably not help...

Tuesday 1st December

At dawn: Wind ENE 10kt, COG 150T , ...tacked around so as not to get too far S, so missing a possible N wind forecast for later which would help us to get more E. That N wind didn't come & the wind stayed NE to ENE all day & evening. On seeing the wind shift to NE from ENE at nmidday, I tacked back again, to head SSE, rather than NNW!! Our COG has been roughly SE since then, with the wind steady at ~10kt.

My midday comment? ... 'Loop:' S-SSE-S-SSE--N-NNW-& now SE!!

The weather grib files were looking more hopeful - if I could get a bit further S, maybe I could pick up SE winds to take me into Cape Town.. I was feeling a lot better, thinking there was more hope I would get to CT in the forseeable future!!! By 1500, we were actually further E than earlier in the day! And our speed has been good throughout - no problem with wind strength, just wind direction....

It's blowing a SE 'hoolie' in the Cape area just now - and forecast to stay that way for the next few days... just to show how important it is to stay well S on the approach, given the strong N-setting current as well.....

DMG: noon-to-noon positions - Note: This doesn't give distance nearer to Cape Town!!
29th Nov: 110M, by log:131M (A very wiggly track due to wind shifts!) Distance from CT: 545M
30th Nov: 48M, by log120M ! (A big inverted 'V') Distance from CT: 496M
1st Dec: 59M by log 125M! (A big N-S loop!) Distance from CT: 494M

Written by : Mike

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