Day 13 Position 15:08.5N 47:43.05W dances with Squalls....

Gwenhyfar's Travels
Sat 7 Dec 2019 17:12
In the afternoon we popped down to the shops (aka port lazarette, box A ) to
get some more tea and some special cakes as requested by Mother.
Tim served scrummy smashed avocado with finest smoked salmon on a piece of
wholegrain toast for lunch.

Peter then caught up with David our nominated "engineer" on board and asked
him about his thoughts on Gwenhyfar's systems. The two happy shipmates sat
in the
saloon whisky chairs and chatted. First, David declared his bias, he has had
a love affair
with Gwenhyfar since the very first sea-trials back in Ipswich in April
2018. He was
immediately impressed by the neat layout and design of her systems, which
7000 sea miles are proving totally fit for purpose.

Asked about his favorite item, he says without hesitation, "It's got to be
the generator." It's a Fisher Panda with an auto start facility, which means
it loads up supplies as it warms up to operating speed and again when
shutting down removes load in a logical sequence. No thinking required! the
generator runs for 2 hrs in the morning, and 3 hrs in the evening. Each time
we take the batteries from around 60% charge up to 95%. The water maker runs
during this time and the water heater is on. These times are normally peak
usage for showers and washing up. The Schenker water maker is making about
70 litres and hour which amply covers every need. We have fitted a direct
tap from the water maker outlet so our personal water bottles can be
directly filled with freshly made water every morning and put in the fridge
for later use. (This is a very good idea). Our heads are normally using
fresh water and are electric so their operation is very efficient and clean.
We have a sea water pump switch fitted should it ever become necessary to
the use of our fresh water tanks (400 litres).

A close second for David has to be the autopilot. It is exceptionally quiet,
in its neat installation in the rudder room. We run most of daylight with
hand steering, because its such brilliant fun helming Gwenhyfar, she's so
responsive and directionally stable, and no one wants to give that
experience up to a machine. Night time is a different matter, it is harder
to see wave trains, especially if the moon hasn't risen, and so normally
it's autopilot time.
It's safer and easier to let the algorithms (clever programming!) of the autopilot take control.
We use "leisure" setting in lighter winds and "performance" in heavier seas, often with it set to wind
vane (steering to the wind rather than just a compass course).

The machine room, behind the companionway steps houses the generator, water
maker, air conditioning units, pressure pumps, and fuel filters. Its a
nicely painted room with proper service lights and fan ventilation. Whilst
it is a tight space David who's a big 6 ft chap, easily creeps around and
can access all his favorite pumps and gauges. On David's Christmas wish list is
a dedicated engine room bulkhead mounted oil extraction pump. But it might
have to wait until Gwenhyfar next visits the Spirit yard in June 2020!

Evening and the sea flattened out. Tim who was juggling with hot fish pies
and shouting Ramsey kitchen nightmare expletives, was concocting another
masterpiece. Note, fish pie is a dish best served flat! Sunset was a
massive apricot that glowed as it sank and fragmented into the western horizon.

Through the early morning hours we started to see squalls. We turned on the
radar to track their westerly march and steer Gwenhyfar, as far as we could
out of their path. Squalls appear like omelets on the radar. They are small
localised storms with strong winds and heavy driving rain. They are best
avoided! Anyone watching the event tracker on the website can see our
"Dances with Squalls" track as we wiggled our way west.

At 07.00 hrs a particularly large squall, that we had been playing chicken
with, bore down on us. Simon called "All hands!" to shorten sail. Green
spinnaker was stowed, reef in main, and jib set. Gwenhyfar was snuggled down
and the hatches were battened, in 10 minutes we were ready. The 4 Guernsey
shipmates were behind the shut companionway doors and giggling through the
deckhouse windows as waved and left Peter on the helm and to the fate of the
storm! He got a right soaking, but it was warm and refreshing.... No fear!

At 12.00 hrs UTC we heard that we were 58th overall (don't forget a lot of
other vessels have motored - we have sailed all the way). We are happy with
our progress. Our strategy is to sail fast and safe, reducing sail at night, and
shooting off fast in the fresh dawn. So far, so good.

Days run 199 miles

Distance to go 770 miles