Cape Town to St Helena - Day Two 30 58.584S 014 51.500E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sat 15 Mar 2014 15:45
Good winds overnight of 15 to 18kts from the SSE, so on our port quarter. Lighter winds this morning, down around 10kts, but overall a good noon-to-noon run of 145 miles. 15-18kts is a really good cruising wind. With both headsails up we make around 7kts with an apparent wind speed of only 10kts or so. 7kts is a good cruising speed and you feel you're really getting somewhere. Also with those winds the sea is down to maybe a metre or at most two. So add another lovely sunny day and it's great comfortable sailing. Hope that continues!

We added another 2 ropes to the boat in Cape Town and have to keep the ropes in the cockpit under control to stop it becoming a veritable snake pit! Without any mainsail reefing lines (which are all up at the mast), there are still 11 ropes a side coming into the cockpit (including 3 sets of sheets) - so 22 altogether. The two new ones are check stay retrieval lines. Our check stays (running backstays) are normally parked near the mast and are only used to support the mast when using the staysail. However, they are not easy to set. They're normal rigging wire with a block-and-tackle rope tail and need to be bought back to their chain plates near the stern of the boat. The block and tackle is 5 to 1 and not easy to pull back or return, and there's always the risk that the flying blocks will decapitate me in the process. So we've changed the arrangement so the default position is for the check stays to be on. The 5 to 1 has been reduced to 2 to 1 and we now put the tails on spare winches. When we use the mainsail, the leeward check stay is moved forward out of the way using the new retrieval line. So it can all be done easily, and mostly from the cockpit. It means the check stays are in use the whole time now, which has to be a good thing. So even after all these miles we're still refining things!

One of the problems with the cold water down here is condensation in the bilges. Above the floor it's not been a problem, but anything metal in the bilges gets so cold that it runs with condensation. All the time in the marina in Cape Town we ran the dehumidifier and that helped, but it didn't stop it. We would not have liked to leave the boat for long in those conditions. Eventually, when further north and once out of the Benguela current, we hope the bilges will dry out.

The tow generator is out and together with the solar panels and wind generator (which is not so good going down wind with low apparent wind) we're getting around 15 amps during the day (and over 20 if the wind is up). That's good as we're using the freezer as well as the fridge this time and together they take quite a lot of power. Power generation drops at night and the generator will have to be run each evening to keep batteries up. We've not used the freezer on passage since the New Zealand to Fiji passage, so it will be interesting to see how we get on. Hope it works okay as it's full to the brim with frozen food! We've provisioned for about 2 months on the basis that we don't expect to get much from St Helena and even less from Ascension Island. So the boat is loaded up and we hope we have enough. We shall see!

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: