West of Darwin - Day 9 - 11 59.804S 109 48.740E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sat 14 Sep 2013 09:10
The wind came up to 17kts with 20+kts in the gusts overnight. More importantly, the direction went south, quite a bit more than forecast. It was due south a lot of the time and for a short period went west of south. So no poles for downwind sailing today! We've been making 6-7kts under the reefed working genoa and it's generally been comfortable, but the seas are up and the bigger ones are giving us a good roll, so need to hang on when moving around the boat (and when writing this!). Noon-to-noon run was 151.4 miles, so not bad under just a reefed genoa. With the winds in the south we've come a bit further north, to ease the motion. The forecast suggests a change back to east southeast tomorrow and if it comes we'll head back south of the 12 degree line.
Encountered another Panmax ship in the night which came close and passed around our stern on it's way to Western Australia. The hydrovane has been working remarkably well so far. Last night we tried it in combination with the autopilot - setting the hydrovane on a sensitive setting and the autopilot on the least responsive mode. Like this the hydrovane does all the work, but the autopilot is there if the hydrovane gets knocked off course by a big wave. Used it like this all night without a problem. It resulted in the autopilot hardly moving and using virtually no power, so we're now putting in more electricity than we use, even at night (combination of tow generator and wind generator). When used like this we do have to make sure the hydrovane and autopilot want to steer the boat in the same direction, otherwise they fight!