Day 21 - Bad Stars

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 4 Jan 2022 00:49
Noon Position: 46 52.3 S 174 19.9 W
Course: E Speed: 5 knots
Wind: N by E, F3
Sea: slight
Swell: WSW, 2 meters
Weather: sunny, mild
Day's Run: 130 nm

Conditions continue exceedingly pleasant for this southern latitude, far more pleasant than I was expecting, but I am sure things will change soon enough. In the meantime I will enjoy the pleasant sailing while it lasts.
The wind has eased a little, reflected in a shorter day's run of 130 nm for an average of 5.4 knots. Coconut continues to experience lighter conditions ahead of us with a high pressure system dominating her weather. She has to stay above 47 degrees in keeping with the rules of the Golden Globe Race which prevents her from getting below the high and into a fresher W'ly air stream. While Sylph is not so constrained, in the interest of fair play I am following the same rule. Nonetheless, Sylph is currently well to the west of the high so has been enjoying consistent light to moderate N'ly breezes. Consequently we are overtaking Coconut a little faster than anticipated. She now lies about 450 nm ahead.
While conditions are fair I continue to amuse myself with celestial navigation. One never knows when the skill might come in handy - perhaps with all that space junk up there the cataclysmic runaway chain-reaction collision may occur knocking out all our satellites. Okay, I certainly hope not, nonetheless navigating by the stars helps me to feel more connected to the environment I am immersed in, and it is an active occupation involving both motor coordination and cognitive skills.
Now, having thus justified this somewhat superfluous activity to myself, I have to admit that last night's stars were nothing short of a disaster. Nearly all my position lines were many miles out from my DR position (which a sideways squint at the GPS confirmed as pretty close to the mark). I gave up on them last night as a lost cause but revisited them this morning. There is a lot of number crunching involved in reducing star sights by almanac and sight reduction tables and as such plenty of opportunity to make silly arithmetic errors, but thus far none have come to light. I am starting to suspect that my time recording might have been wanting (juggling sextant, time piece, notebook, spectacles and torch while trying to maintain one's balance on a small rocking boat without getting any spray on oneself or sextant is, to say the least, an interesting challenge). One minute of time is equivalent to 15 minutes of longitude so I will see if any of the sights are amenable to such adjustment. I use a digital watch to obviate time recording errors and of course the sights are now hopelessly obsolete but I still would like to know where I have gone wrong so as to prevent similar errors in the future. So this little postmortem activity should keep me occupied for much of the remainder of the afternoon.
Yesterday we crossed into the western hemisphere but I forgot to change the sign on the longitude on yesterday's blog entry, so that entry has Sylph going backwards. Today I have remembered to make the change (after Wayne pointed it out to me in last night's sked - thank you Wayne). Given that ship's time is currently NZ daylight saving time (-13), I will delay changing the clocks until tomorrow when we cross into the next time zone (+11) at 172 30 W, and gain a day in the process.

All is well.