12:01 21 to 12:00 22 November 2006
The 20 knots seemed to have settled in for the day, so I settled down to watch the waves.
I made some lunch and settled in the downhill corner of the cockpit under the sprayhood, where the waves can t get you, well only the curved ball ones. Whatever you may think of the ocean it deserves respect, which is why I have on a harness and 4 tethers at the moment.
I am very glad I did all the housework earlier, it now stays tidy whatever the conditions. My stowage plan is near perfect, a few modifications will be done to replace cable ties with little bungees, both wonderful inventions. I think these, shackles and some bits of rope are all you need, but Mikey also includes a wire coat hanger in his list of necessities. 1 lemon did make it out of the fruit bowl, but only got as far as the shelf below. The contents of the port cupboards in the kitchen did try to make a break for it when I wanted a plate, but no escapees. If everything starts to slide it is really difficult trying to decide what to try to catch and what to leave to its fate.
And now for the weather report, Something Happening In The Weather, sorry if that is swearing.
When the people wrote the books, they said NE Trades, when I read the books it said NE Trades, when I got the weather forecast it said NE Trades. If you aren t a weather guru you can guess what that means, the clue is in the title. NE. Have they privatised the company in charge of the weather for the N Atlantic. Weather should be run by a public authority, these people read the manual and they follow it. We do not need a hot shot innovative person in charge trying to change things. If there is a public meeting I shall attend, with a banner that says Keep the NE Trades NE. Or perhaps they are running down their stock and they have run out of Ns and thought it would be cost saving to use up some of these Ss they hardly ever seem to use.
Well they started NE, not very strong, but NE, then they went E. This is meant to be a downwind trip so I decided that whatever happened I would not go more than 150 AWA (apparent wind angle), that should be comfortable and fast enough. When it went E I dropped to 90 and could still hold my course. Then in the early hours of Monday it went silly. I had no wind and when it came back it was SE, S, SW. SE I could go to 60 and maintain my course. S and SW is just mean. I then had to decide how close to sail to the wind, I had not made this decision previously because I did not think about getting anywhere near close hauled. The boat will sail less than 60, but I am not going to in these conditions. 60 is uncomfortable enough. All day Tuesday it was SE and blowing 20+ a lot of the time.
I kept thinking I should slow the boat down, but it is doing so well I put it off for a bit longer. I have been thumping along close hauled for about 8 hours and my jaws are aching from the stress of bracing the whole time against a downhill boat. I will have to reduce sail soon, bed time for the boat is just before it is dark, I settle it down. I do not want to ramp along like this in the dark, even if I have to go off course.
There was a seriously nasty big breaking wave and it was a good job I was inside or those sails would have been down straight away, but when I got out there it calmed down, until my back was turned, then it went back up to 19. It is like having kids and warning them of impending bedtime, or once more and you come in and play in your room, or you can read. Zoe extended her hours by standing under a lamp post with her book or taking a torch. You can t penalise resourcefulness.
5pm I had reefed down the genoa, the main had been at 3 reefs for most of the day. 5:45 I took the genoa to 2nd reef, it was still 20 knots, and I went to 90 AWA. I had about 30 degrees spare built into my course, which just means instead of visiting Sal and all islands West then I just pop into the last one. So I used it, all 30 degrees of it. If someone tells me I have to go back to close hauled to maintain my original course or miss Sal, I don t care, who wanted to go to Sal anyway.
21:45 This was weird. I felt it go quiet and the sails were flapping. I went out and there was no wind and the sea was totally calm. The light wind there was was going all round the compass and I was trying to steer to get something. There was a blinding flash of light and I thought the instruments had blown up, but a second later there was the thunder. Just the once, then nothing. I think it must have been dead behind me and reflected in the compass glass, otherwise wouldn t there be a hole where the binnacle was. Groped inside with no real vision and put the phone and GPS and computer battery in the biscuit tin and in the oven, bit late, but I had no warning.
I thought it would rain heavily and went to get my jacket. In the few moments it took me to get back to the wheel the wind had come back and racked up to 23 knots. Time for the 3rd reef. It was still SE, but showing a little tendency more towards E than S, we could only hope.
The sea was still very uncomfortable, it was like being on a track with continuous potholes and finding every one.
Is anybody reading this? I know one person is. Steve was in the airport in Tortola, with a hangover, (getting too old for the big nights out) with Puerto Rico immigration yet to come and still he found time to check up on me and send me words of encouragement.
01:30 I thought it was safe to get the phone out of the oven. I checked my e-mail and Steve said I should harass the weather people. I know what they will say, a forecast is only that, but I sent them an e-mail anyway. The safest place for the computer and me was on the front berth, so I had to risk opening the forehatch just enough to put the aerial out for the sat phone. I just finished and closed the hatch before the wave crashed onto it. I may have a response when I send this missive at noon.
8am Still cloudy, still SE,126 degrees, but down to 17. I had another read of the pilot book, which is not inspiring on the Cape Verdes, although it is not the latest version. Had breakfast and noticed that the boat has been covered in Sahara sand, my lovely white netting is now red, all the ropes are red. You can t get the stain out so it is a good thing that this T shirt is not expected to have a long life expectancy.
I decided to set a course for Sal, still not final but see what it does to the course.
9:15 and it ocurred to me that I still had 3 reefs in both sails, I should let one out. I can hold this course easily at 90.
I have let the genoa out completely and given the main half of what it had left, up to the ubiquitous blue line. It is warm, the sun is trying to get through the clouds. The sea is calm, the wind is down to about 10 knots, speed is 3.5 knots; I am on course to Sal and the wind is, surprisingly, SE 140.
I have nearly done 500nm and have about 350 to go.
Steve: Diesel status – Tank 1, 2, + cans , say 300 litres.
Usage 1.5 to 2 litres per hour, with current should only be 1.5
Motor run (engine hours display defunct) say 6 hours @ 2 L ph max+spillage,15L
Remaining = 285 L /2 = 142 hours.
Usage expected for next 4 days to CV if have to top up batteries twice a day, max 8 hours, 15 litres.
I could motor to CV from here, but I would rather not have to refuel.
Course to Sal
Course to Sal 212T