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Date: 07 Jan 2016 10:20:32
Title: Thursday, Jan. 7th, 2016

Noon Position: 31.56S 16.01E

Daily run: 189 logged miles

Destination: Salvador de Bahia (Brazil) via St Helena

It is a month ago that I posted my last blog entry, but we are now back at sea having left Cape Town yesterday at 11am in gentle westerly breezes. Not that we have been idle. I had three re-absorbing impacted wisdom teeth taken out under a general anaesthetic by an excellent South African maxilla-facial surgeon while having Luna Quest professionally delivered from Richards Bay to Cape Town. We rented a flat in the centre of the City to help me convalesce and using that time to rest my right-arm tennis elbow. We visited Table Mountain, Robben Island, toured Cape Town, took the Blue Train to Pretoria and the Rovos Rail back to CapeTown, then flew home for Christmas and the New Year to arrive back in Cape Town on the 3rd of Jan. Other than the terrible pain following the operation, we have fond memories of our month off from sailing.

In the three days we had before departure on Jan. 6th, we rushed around to provision the boat from excellent supermarkets and making several runs of dieseling up at a local garage by jerry cans and having them delivered by taxi to the marina and then carrying them down steps to the pontoon. Only in the nick of time did we manage to make the start line. Some of the washing was still drying on the life lines.

The weather forecast for the next few days was for strong southerly winds. These duly arrived overnight increasing from 20 knots to 30 knots and today to 40 knots, gale force to strong gale force (F8). We had reefed the sails before nightfall, but it proved inadequate this morning in the big and wild seas as the force of the wind overpowered the Hydrovane and slew the boat round to starboard backing the mainsail. I jumped to the tiller and force jibed Luna Quest back on her course of 310 degrees. There was not a moment to lose to reduce sail to the minimum in the rising gale. First, the poled-out genoa, that had caused the jibe, was halved in size and then the mainsail was reduced to its last reef. Stability returned, but at the cost of speed. The wild 9-kn gyrations gave way to 7.2kn of relative security. The seas are impressive under a blue sky. We estimate their height at between 5 and 8 meters with white caps everywhere and the tops of the waves becoming a translucent light blue before breaking. We are surrounded by albatrosses, boobies and a small quick-flying bird, a pleasure to watch the ease with which they manage the winds and seas. It is great to be back.

Eric

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