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Sunday - 2 ships come close...

Well, I think I've proved how useful it is to have AIS on board - even just to receive is good, although we also transmit.

Around midday, first the "Ultra Excellence" (bulk carrier, headed for Balboa)) and then the "Wan Hai 803"(general cargo, headed for Long Beach) came by in quick succession.

Both times, when I contacted them by VHF, on seeing a CPA (closest approach) of less than a mile, they assured me they could see my AIS signal and they'd keep clear (invariably, the usual response I get!).

Both times, I had to radio them when they got closer because we were virtually on collision course - a point I made strongly to the first one - 200-300 ft is too close for such big ships - and subject to error anyway!!

Being close-hauled under sail, I asked them please to bear away since my course was varying with the wind somewhat and they needed to give me more sea-room - both times I saw them change course by a few degrees - enough for them to pass by safely about a mile off upwind (and starboard to starboard, as is usual). I thanked both of them - but thought how lucky I was to have the AIS to have seen them in time. In the present big seas, they would have been very close before I could have seen them, to realise there was a problem - always assuming I was on deck to see them at all! Radar is the answer, of course, but that is very energy-consuming to keep on constantly , unlike AIS which uses a VHF frequency and is far more energy-efficient. I use that mainly when close inshore overnight, for small (fishing) boats without AIS, and in fog.

It's been a far better day today with the seas still quite big but not so close or steep, so far less banging and crashing around although we're still heeled somewhat - being close-hauled ensures that. Even the sun has been trying to get out and managed it for a time and the overcast sky is light, not dark, grey.

Being that much calmer, I've just finished a nice meal - the first one I've cooked since leaving Oxnard... Mushroom and ham omelette with buttered potatoes. I allowed myself one plain chocolate-covered cherry as desert - if I restrain myself, I think there's enough there for just one a day! The eggs are from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle - bought fresh in late May and turned daily - they're doing fine. Some chilled eggs I bought in San Diego just over a week ago are also being kept out of the fridge and turned daily but I've yet to find out if they'll keep as well - I doubt it! I might put some in the fridge to compare how they do.

Battery is well up at 12.98V, despite radio use this morning - the wind generator is doing well, with the solar panels also putting in 10amps under bright overcast. Using the wind vane for steering makes life so much simpler and is so energy-efficient! Keeping us close to the wind, we change course as the wind does - so the sails are always set correctly and we make the best possible course upwind. We're not very fast (4kt is slow!) because of heading into the wind but our course been consistently around 300T in 14-20 knots of mainly N wind.

Pressure continues to climb and is now around 1020 hPa. At some point we'll probably grind to a halt near the centre of the High, but for the moment, all is going very well - speed apart!

Written by : Jeanne Socrates