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Tues/Wed 3/4th Nov 09 To my UK friends on 5th November: Have a good Bonfire N

Tuesday/Wednesday 3/4th November 09

The wind might be dying.... 12knots now... or maybe because we're near a big cloud, as happened earlier tonight. Wind died completely soon after sunset with heavy rainfall well downwind and a mass of rainclouds around, but then picked up again. But this seems different - we're sailing more & more gently, with the big swell of this afternoon, helped by winds of 17knots, having died down also to just a gentle, regular rocking of the boat. I wasn't expecting the wind to die quite this soon - several days more, I thought.... as we approach the St Helena High, which latest grib files showed as being across our path with its E-W axis at around 25S. (We're only at 17* 40'S now) But maybe this is a temporary dying down due to the pressure gradient easing overnight - and then, with a deep depression coming up from the S over the next few days, there'll be a 'squash' effect - and winds will pick up again ... until we really do get close to the High centre. Time will tell... I'm still waiting to do important jobs in the calm zone...

I spent a lot of time this afternoon upside down, being bounced around while trying to wind PTFE tape with great difficulty around a hose fitting I could barely see, in a very confined space under the aft bunk. If only bodies could be bent in a few more places, these jobs would be so much easier!! But to my surprise, I managed it, (I was convinced I couldn't, at one point - before I took more of the bunk to bits...)

One lesson I learned early in my recent boat-maintenance career has been to use the 'Law of the Lever' (as my totally impractical father grandiosely termed it - he was OK on the theory!). To help tighten the jubilee clips well enough, I would normally have looked for a muscle-bound friendly guy nearby and asked for an extra bit of help, but when that can't happen, an extra bit of leverage, if it can be arranged, works wonders - doubles the effect of these puny muscles easily.....in this case with a screwdriver poked sideways through a hole in the main screwdriver handle to help twist it that much more - so simple, yet so effective!! Even more to my surprise, when I (reluctantly) tested the system - my hose connections were bone dry... unlike several others nearby - and two hoses bulged ominously when I pressurized the system to make water.. Not good news... But I was pleased enough with my handiwork to award myself a big slab of rich fruit cake to go with my mug of tea later..

I left the system running for a short time to fill the tank but don't dare do that again - so much water was eventually leaking out & a bulging hose is going to split very soon.... It turns out I've still enough hose to replace one of the lengths - but not two... I'll try re-making the leaking connections, using PTFE tape, when I replace the worst-looking hose tomorrow - "In for a penny, in for a pound", "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well," etc, etc. I just wish I'd more of the replacement hose to change them all... Why couldn't the installer have done the job properly, to save me all this unnecessary hassle??

Yesterday was spent checking over my storm preparations... a cover over the big hole under the cockpit coaming above the engine panel (don't want water getting down below through there if the cockpit fills with water), fixing a closure on the galley dry locker lid (too many tins of food in there to allow them to fly around), checking cabin sole openings were fixed, checking the bolts on the fridge lid and a long time spent on the lockable perspex storm washboard for the companionway - sticking lengths of sealing strips on either side of the opening and below, to make a snug, water-tight (or nearly so) fit. And more checking of staysail leads...

The wind, as of yesterday, has been either east or just north of east, and mainly around 17 knots. We're still close-hauled & made good speed on both days, the wind only dying for short periods of time. Both afternoons (or what I saw of them!) were very sunny and pleasant and we were not under-canvassed with the two reefs in the mains'l.

DMG: Tuesday: 126 M Wednesday: 137 M (Foul current still around half to one knot.)

Sea and air noon temperatures are down: 34 and 33 C respectively on 20/21 Oct (at around 11N)... now 29 & 28 C

Wed noon position was 730M E from nearest Brazilian coast, 285 M ENE from Ilha da Trinidade and 1190M due west of St Helena - did you know they refer to each other as 'Saints'?!

Written by : Mike

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