Tues/Wed 24/25Nov09 Days 46&47 Slopping about in high pressure calms.... with

Tuesday 24th November 09
Big news of the day - albatrosses - three of them! Not just the one albatross I'd seen circling the boat yesterday - but a pair of
them arrived today. Impressive, big, cruel-looking beak they have, as well as those graceful long wings - soaring effortlessly over the sea and around 'Nereida' - clearly inquisitive, circling very close quite often as I watched them for ages from the companionway. They also frequently settle on the sea for a rest.

I'm not sure if they were all the same kind, since I thought one of the pair clearly had a uniformly-dark beak but the single one clearly has a yellow upper part to its otherwise dark beak. It's difficult to get a decent look at them, they move so fast through the air - taking photos of them is almost impossible .... correction: no problem taking the photo - it's having the bird in the frame ANYwhere at all when you click the shutter that's the problem!! Lots of fuzzy photos of the sea with specks in the distance....!!

There's quite a large group of 'spectacled' petrels always gliding around nearby now. I saw one pair of similar shape & size but a pure white underbody except for dark breast (straightish dividing line between dark breast and white lower parts - rather like on an oyster catcher...) Otherwise dark everywhere - but undersides of wings possibly paler, with darker line down centre.

I got quite excited yesterday just before sunset when I spotted a tiny bird 'dancing' on the sea surface, seeming to touch it
frequently - a storm petrel of some kind. All dark wings & body, except for a distinctive large white rump. It had more 'sparrow-shaped' wings than the gliding wings of the larger seabirds around.. And just now when I looked around, a mid-grey bird flew by, a bit smaller than the spectacled petrels, flapping its wings constantly, rather than soaring mostly, white underside but grey head, chest and tail...

.....So there I was, happily starting a soft-boiled egg I'd been looking forward to for several days now - when we suddenly started heeling over yet again & I had to rush up into the cockpit to sort things out....... wind veered & went up from about 10 knots to 16-18 knots, boat speed up from a sedate 5 knots to 7.5.... Nothing too worrying - except I was very glad I hadn't shaken out the 3rd reef, as I had been thinking I should have, a short while before. A gusty morning, often for no obvious reason since not always due to a large cloud being nearby - safer to stay with 3rd reef and play with the full genoa and staysail for fine tuning!

Weather forecast is for a gale for this sea area (Tristan - named after island of Tristan da Cunha, just over 500 mls away now). Although it's unlikely that I'd get such strong winds, you never know... but all I see is the pressure rising, not dropping. A gust came through in the evening, so I furled away the genoa in readiness for the expected rising winds and tied in the 3rd reef around the boom to avoid chafe on the reefing line in strong winds..... but the wind died away... by 11pm, to 3-5 knots.... we're going nowhere at all!! Time for bed...

Wednesday 25 November 09 Day 47
4am... overcast sky ...still no wind! So much for the Gale Warning!! Went nowhere overnight... Made 1 ml in 5 hrs!!
Difficult to keep the boat staying headed in the right direction with quite a big long swell still which rocks us about every so often. This is likely to continue all day with high pressure up at 1025 since 11pm

Wind finally went N around 0600 but didn't fill in until nearer 8am - when it was NNE-NE 3 (8-9 kt) - but at least we were moving again, even if only at 4.5kt. .. but that didn't last long - by midday, we were making 1.5kn in 4kn of wind... barely enough to keep moving! And there's another Gale Warning for Tristan - last one ended up with zero wind here, so I wonder what this one will bring... (Later: We're only just in 'Tristan' sea area - almost in 'Cape West' - so no wonder the Tristan Gale Warnings aren't relevant!!)

Sunset (around 1900UTC): Fairly calm sea, since so little wind most of the day, and wind had risen to just 10-11 knots - but might yet increase to 20knots overnight, since quite strong Northerlies are expected soon over quite a big area... but, hopefully, no gales! Still have my 'resident pair of 'spectacled petrels and the solitary albatross ... had lots of petrels all morning but most gone now. Did plenty of bird watching in the calm conditions today - watching them soaring and wheeling about, often very close to the boat...very special...

DMG to noon:
Tuesday: 133M (by log: 151M)
Wednesday: 62M (by log: 56M) 1M overnight, drifting from 11pm to 4am ...!!
And likely to be another bad DMG tomorrow, with us 'slopping about' in no wind again, in the afternoon...

Written by : Mike

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