Watermusic - Day 12

Sat 25 May 2013 11:56
Position 35:03.8N 42:04.9W
The good ship is charging her batteries and preparing for another night at sea.  We have passed 4 ships in the last 24 hours, as they converge or diverge from Gibraltar, the closest of which was a mile or so off to starboard.  We did contact her and received an answer so the AIS system is working well.  Last night began well as we tore along on a reach at 7 and and a half knots until at 10pm (my watch), some stranger weather patterns started to come through with torrential rain and very little wind, interspersed with clearer skies and wind filling in further ahead of us causing us to bear away.  There was a further challenge when the auto-helm appeared to fail to cope with the wave action, surprisingly as we had managed well earlier in the day in more difficult seas running downwind.  Night-time investigations were relatively cursory and nothing mechanical was amiss so we helmed through until daylight. At some point during the early hours the wind died away altogether so the engine was pressed into service for a few hours and in fact we managed a respectable distance in the end for the 24 hour run.  By 11am we were sailing again but 25 degrees off-course and we are debating the merits of a tack to the north to avoid being pushed too far south which could lead to us having to tack all the way in if the wind fills in from the north east as predicted.
As the sun rose on a lovely morning, leaving the frustrations and wet of the night behind there were a few chores to be done prior to breakfast ably led by David, including some “in voyage re-fuelling” which has topped us up in case of the need to motor for any more prolonged periods.  The auto-helm was more thoroughly investigated and in the event the old system was plugged back in and worked well, which isolated the problem to the new deck instrument that hitherto had performed without skipping a beat.  Obscurely it transpired that the rudder response settings, reduced to a battery saving minimum were too “light touch” upwind and have now been restored leaving the new instrument back at peak form. 
As David and I have had a preference for some rock music now and again it was Stephen’s turn today and he requested some country tunes.  All well and good you might think until he let forth with his really quite enthusiastic rendition of Angel of the Morning while we went about our start to the day causing my hair to stand on end.  Sadly the CD player started to jump a bit later so we have reverted to silence.  The fisha re winning at the moment and have stolen one of our lures without us making a catch in return but we have had a good day with dinner planned in half an hour.  A light jacket and shorts during the day but oilskins and warm kit at night.  We are now 670 miles from Horta but as we are beating our way into it we have no very realistic ETA.  However, if the wind shifts around behind us by 30 degrees we will be set.
David, Simon and Stephen