Friday 9:30pm Lovely starry night sky - Milky Way strewn across the sky and Southern Cross clear to view... Remaining pink-orange light of sunset low in West sky, along with some distant, dark clouds.
Finished gybing onto port tack and staysail is poled out - we're goose-winged (wing-on-wing) again, ready for overnight. Wind is 16-19 kt and we're sailing smoothly downwind at nearly 6kt.
Added some potato to the last of the ham and split pea soup to bulk it up nicely - enjoying it as I write this...
Will need to keep an eye on our course and adjust Fred from time to time - wind is forecast to veer a little overnight and end up from NW by Saturday evening as a High pressure system develops to our N and expands to the E over Saturday.
10:45pm Wind has died down to 12 kt - we've slowed to just 4.6 kt.
Later: Had a great radio session just after midnight on 7160kHz (0330GMT onward) Made new contacts in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil - to add to ones in Canada and USA. I really enjoy making these contacts with the countries I'm passing, just a few hundred miles away and several have come up regularly to send their greetings, which is really nice of them. Brings a smile!
Saturday 8:30am First reef line problem dealt with...! I'm more than ready for a quick breakfast and some sleep!
I've been up since 4am, downloading weather files, while propagation was good, and making a brief contact with Ian, VK3MO, wh0 gave me Uku's position and agreed to pass on a message to him, with Peter, ZL1PWM, acting as a relay between us.
Peter had already told me that my best chance of dealing with my first reef line problem was this morning, since that was when wind and seas would be least ... That was necessary since I had to perch high up in the cockpit to access the boom end (having centred the boom) to try to place a block there and tie in the new reef line around the boom, onto the block and then onto the sail's reefing point.
The swell was not too bad, although I had to make sure I was totally secure at all times, ready for the occasional big wave that came along, causing a lot of rolling around...
I placed a block at the boom end, a shackle was used to act as a guide halfway along the boom and another block was placed at the boom forward end, leading the line down to a mast foot block from where it leads back with the other reef lines to a clutch at the cockpit.
I had to take away from their clutches and leads both the sail outhaul and the pole downhaul lines, to make the necessary leads and clutch available for this extra reef line, so they had to be re-routed and tidied away also.
The line I've used is good and strong and very long. A small bit of line showing a chafed section at one end has been cut away. So the only difference from before is that the line is outside the boom and the luff and leech reef lines are separated - back to good, basic, reliable twin-line reefing!
When I first got the boat, I insisted that reef hooks and jammers at the for'd boom end were provided in case of need, so I could revert to simple slab reefing if the single-line reefing system should fail - here I am making use of one of those jammers for the sail outhaul.
I could have dispensed with the luff reef line and hooked the reef cringle in place, instead - but I prefer to lead all reef lines back to the cockpit to avoid having to go forward to reef in rough conditions. However, the option to reef at the mast, using the mast winches if necessary, is still there.
10:45am I've cleared up, had breakfast and I'm enjoying some fresh coffee before heading to my bunk. Wind was just W 8kt while I was working earlier but it has slowly increased - now 12kt - and is veering, so Fred needs adjusting every so often to keep us on course.
The sky had been clear but scattered cumulus is now spreading over from the W
- the direction the frequent Lows always come from. One is expected to develop on our path during Tuesday (8th). I can't get N of it to avoid it so I'm hoping the winds won't be too strong - they're presently expected to average just under 30kt, so likely to have gusts over that.
11:30am Wind almost NW 11-12kt - adjusted Fred for a beam reach - small, dark, white-rumped, Black-bellied storm petrel danced over the water astern very close by (poor thing - what a name!)
Bright blue sky - just one or two, tiny, fluffy white clouds... Ambling along at 4kt - a genoa would be handy. .... We'll be paying for this slow speed later, when the Low reaches us on Tuesday, but it's very pleasant, although the swell has never really laid down completely, so occasionally we're still rolling around - but nothing too violent. Feel really pleased to have solved the first reef problem. Back to my bunk - after adjusting Fred again - wind has veered a touch more and down to 10kt.
2pm What a beautiful day! As so often happens when the wind and seas calm down, the birds disappear. I visualise them, sitting on the surface in sociable groups somewhere in the vastness of this ocean, chatting to each other...! Under the vivid blue sky, it's become so warm, at 18C/64F, I've had to discard my fleece tops for ahort while - summer has arrived!
Wind is 12-14kt but from NNW. I've adjusted Fred so we're a little more close-hauled but don't want to cut down our speed much more..
3pm Wind is now up at NNW 18kt, so we're making better speed. Expecting 20+ knots by this evening. A small flock of prions have appeared, now the wind has increased and the sea surface is no longer so smooth.
Tried to contact Uku on the radio - but I seemed to hear Mark's voice on frequency - frustratingly, could only hear someone in the distance - impossible to make out their words... Will try again tonight
As I took down the staysail pole, which I'd left up in case needed, I noticed that my 'chafe protector' on the rod-kicker lashings had moved and was no longer protecting the line from the roughened trysail track edges. Got a hammer and managed to get it back into position - but clearly that's something to keep a constant eye on - it's all moving too much as the boom moves and I'll have to see if there's some (easy) way to stop that happening.
While things were relatively calm, took up the cockpit washboard and cleaned the scuppers' drain hole covers - amazing how quickly they get clogged up with fluff and that would stop water draining away - not good!
4pm Just heaved to - yet again... The latest updated weather info is showing the Low forming to the NW is expected to develop worse than forecast before - so waiting, stopped by weather warning, to decide what will be the best course of action...
1900GMT (=1600LT) - end of Day 94. We made 111 n.ml. DMG over the 24 hr period, measured in a straight line between the two 1900 GMT position.
Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 93 (by daily DMGs): 9,196 n.ml.
Distances (at 1900Z): Cape Horn LH: 1170 n.ml. to SW; Falklands: 740 n.ml. to SW; Montevideo: 624 n.ml to NW; Buenos Aires: 772 n.ml to NW Cape Agulhas (SA): 3019 n.ml. to NE
Position & weather report for 1900 GMT posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):
TIME: 2019/01/05 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 42-30.90S LONGITUDE: 045-19.64W COURSE: 040T SPEED: 5.2kt
WIND_SPEED: 19kt WIND_DIR: NNW SWELL_DIR: NW SWELL_HT: 2.5m CLOUDS: 5%
BARO: 1009.3hPa TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 20.0C SEA_TEMP: 16.0C
COMMENT: Bright sun. Heaved to at 1915Z - weather warning...