Day 46 – Ships Passing in the Ni ght

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 28 Jan 2022 20:07
Noon Position: 52 04.8 S 112 04.1 W
Course: E Speed: 6 knots
Wind: WSW, F5 Sea: moderate
Swell: SW 2 meters
Weather: overcast, cool
Day’s Run: 141nm (131nm Easting - 23 hours)

Having given up on chasing Coconut, yesterday evening at 2000 with the wind starting to moderate, I set the main with three reefs and poled 60% jib out to starboard. We were soon scooting along at a nice stable 6.5 knots, Sylph’s favourite speed.
Once that was done I had a cup of tea and was settling things down for the night prior to turning in when the GPS alarm sounded. I thought it was one of the time alarms I set to remind me to have a look around every so often and fill out the log but when I looked up at the display it was indicating an AIS target only two miles away. It had to be Coconut.
I went on deck and sure enough there was a single white light off our port bow, Coconut’s stern light. I tried calling her on VHF but with no success. I flashed a spotlight in her direction and tried the VHF again. No response. We ended up passing about 400 meters on Coconut’s starboard beam and as we did so I sounded a fog horn multiple times, flashed the spotlight and then called on VHF. Still no response. Mark was obviously sound asleep down below and the lack of a response on VHF suggests that one of us has a problem with their radio (which has clearly made determining Coconut position that much more difficult).
I gave up on trying to rouse Mark from his slumbers and monitored the situation until I was confident that Sylph was well past and clear. I then advanced clocks an hour to time zone +7 and turned in until the radio sked with Wayne and Coconut was due, now 0300 Sylph time.
During the 0300 sked we estimated that Sylph and Coconut were only about eight miles apart so should have still been well within VHF range. Further testing on multiple devices failed to establish communications. Seeing as Mark had had good communications with a VHF station off Stewart Island I am inclined to suspect the problem is my end, so another thing added to the ‘to do’ list. This morning I checked the connection at the rear of the radio and that appears okay so the next thing to check is the connection at the base of the mast. I will try to do this later today.
So, at long last we have achieved our rendezvous, albeit in the middle of the night and with no communications. Nonetheless, I was very happy that I managed to get within visual range of Coconut before continuing on our way to the Horn. It would have been nice to have effected a rendezvous off the Horn but that was always going to be a real long shot. Indeed, it is still possible, but a lot more unlikely now that Coconut is astern of Sylph.
My rough plan from here is to make best speed towards the Horn, heading east along a latitude of approximately 51 30S until we reach 090W when I will then make directly for the Horn on a course of 110°T. Of course this plan will be adjusted as necessary depending on the weather.
Cabo de Hornos now lies 1500 miles ahead. If we can maintain an average speed of six knots our ETA will be about ten days from now, Monday 7 February.
All is well.