West of Darwin - Day 10 - 11 54.562S 106 50.466E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 15 Sep 2013 08:59
A bit of a sleigh ride yesterday evening. The wind eased just a little and the seas eased quite a bit, and the direction of the wind moved from south towards southeast (although shifting around). This allowed the windward genoa to be poled out again (and well reefed) and with the easier seas we romped along at 8 to 9kts most of the evening and into the early hours, under a bright moon that's approaching full moon. True, it was helped a little by the current (a good knot, sometimes more!). The net result was a very good noon-to-noon run of 175.4 miles. To help ensure the windward sail didn't back, we used the autopilot controlled by the wind vane at the top of the mast. This allows us to sail at a constant angle to the wind, so if the wind changed, instead of backing the genoa, the boat would change its direction and keep the wind at the same angle to the sails. It worked well, but had 2 drawbacks. If the wind shifts back and forth, as it did last night, the autopilot alerts you to the fact that the direction of the boat is changing and you have to acknowledge it or it doesn't stop beeping. So we had quite an interrupted night (to allow the person below to sleep, will have to find some way of muffling the beep!). The second is that if the wind shifts to the south, as it kept on doing, the boat changes direction to the north, so we've ended up quite a bit further north than intended. However, as the wind is back to the southeast or even east south east at times today, we're clawing our way back south again. The wind's been lighter today, but the better angle has allowed more sail and we're making a respectable 6 to 7kts most of the time. It's another glorious day - not a cloud in the sky and with the lighter winds the seas have dropped further, so a very pleasant and comfortable sail.