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Sun/Mon 25/26th Oct 09 By noon Monday - closer to Brazil than to W.Africa! Equator Tuesday??

Went to pick up two flying fish from beside the cockpit Sunday morning - and spotted a long, thin bolt - 7cm long, 3mm diameter ....not something I recognized.... now where did that come from?? I'm trying to convince myself that it was dropped by someone working onboard and has been lodged somewhere out of sight until the biggish seas we've had ...

Early on, I put in two reefs and came off the wind slightly - that helped a lot for speed but not for our course....(never fails to amaze me how you can reef down - and the boat not only sails better, as in more upright, but at least as fast, if not faster...!) With a SSE 4-5 wind, there was no way we were going to make anything like the 180T course we made yesterday... and there was a definite unfavourable (foul) current - from half to one knot against us. Wind and seas got up even more ... and later, I realized the anchor was moving & banging when buried in seas- I saw from a distance that the bow roller pin had come out .. I sat up in the bow and tied myself on (to prevent myself from being washed out under pulpit when waves washed over bow !) and replaced it & tightened it with pliers.. I also lashed the shank down after trying, unsuccessfully, to use shackles for that job ... Felt very exposed and was continually getting drenched by the waves splashing over me. Had a lovely fresh shower afterwards to get rid of all salt I was covered in. Had a haircut (more of a chop, really!) but declined the offer of 'Styling, Ma'am?'..!

Felt much better after that, especially with clean hair... and went on to cook myself a nice meal... pork, potatoes, onions and petits pois - yummee! Sat enjoying it as I watched a lovely sunset - but no green flash....

I just hope the anchor stays put - I must keep an eye on my lashing and that pin. It would have been nice to have been able to stow it down below before starting out, but I felt I'd never be able to get it up on deck and into place in the bow in an emergency situation needing its deployment...

A booby circled around for some time near sunset ... clearly looking for a roosting spot - but thought better of it... good... Occasionally see a (Leach's?) petrel - small, graceful, dark bird with fine wings and white rump.

Monday morning, I spotted the (same?) booby again - but it didn't stay around.

By 4.30 am, the wind had dropped a little and backed to SE - I was able to shake out all reefs, sailing was much calmer, no squalls around... and coming off the wind a touch more meant we were now making 6-7 knots of boatspeed, although losing a knot (by mid-morning, one-and-a-half knots!) to foul current... curses! Putting in a reef again mid-morning, and the wind backing further to ESE meant lovely comfortable but fast sailing all day long, despite the wind dropping a bit during the afternoon, to pick up by evening... Even as I write this, later Monday evening, we're still making 7.3 knots of boatspeed (giving 6.1 SOG) with a single-reefed mains'l.

I had a satphone call from my 'weather routers' - they confirmed what my downloaded 'grib' (weather) files have shown - SE/SSE winds (SE Trades, in fact) settled in place quite strongly, becoming more easterly the further south I get... and the ITCZ ('Doldrums') left behind me now - as I'd suspected from the lack of grey rainclouds around now...

I'm expecting to cross the Equator early tomorrow (Tuesday) since our latitude now is just over 1 degree N and our heading is 200-210T.

To noon Sunday: 107M
To noon Monday: 117M (675M from Brazil; 830M from Guinea-Bissau)

Note: Squalls overnight Sat/Sun, so reefed down for those, with variable winds, often dropping right down, around the squalls, over-keen all Sunday and into early Monday trying hard to make course of near 180T - so too close-hauled for good speed - and increasingly foul current on Monday...!
Remember also: DMG is along a straight line, point to point, not the actual course run over the 24hrs, which varies with wind, especially since we're sailing on a close reach with wind-steering, reflecting every little change of wind direction, with speed dropping dramatically when we get too close to the wind!

Written by : Mike

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