Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sunday 8th July

At Sea

6 55.814 S
131 25.771 W (at Midnight)

We glided along through the water with no problems except the occasional flapping and banging of the boom until 06.15hrs. I was on watch and we were suddenly hit by and enormous storm cell, the sky had turned black in every direction and it began to spit rain. I dropped the curtains and began to prepare for the down pour, as the first winds accompanying the storm hit us we were immediately being blown of course, I grabbed the wheel to hand steer and yelled for Gerry to come out on deck to help. As we had the sails goose winged and the jib out on the pole I could only turn the boat in a direction to keep the wind directly behind us which meant we were now going off at an angle of almost 180 degrees to where we wanted to go. Gerry arrived and quickly took control of the wheel whilst I furled the jib in, complete with pole. Once the jib was away we were able to turn back onto course though it meant we were headed directly into the storm. For the first time on this leg of the trip we encountered rain, it was fairly light but it continued for about an hour, pity we didn’t have a rain catcher! As soon as we were under control we checked the whisker pole out – it looked to have a bend in it but we wouldn’t be able to tell how badly it was bent until we could get out on deck and release it from the jib and the mast. The storm was quite a large one and stayed around us for a couple of hours, we eventually decided to change tack and follow the storm as the direction the wind was blowing it was better than the way we were going so after 2400 miles on a single port tack we made the change to a starboard tack. Eventually the storm went away from us and we were left following in its wake with fairly good winds but also quite turbulent water where the storm had whipped the sea up. Of course smack bang in the middle of the storm we had the radio schedule, Gerry couldn’t miss that as he has become the “weather man”, he gets the grib every day and reads the weather for the boats in each area. Y Not told us that they had experienced a close encounter with a fishing boat overnight – it came to within 500 meters of them – you would think with this entire ocean that they could stay well clear but obviously not! With the radio schedule over, breakfast eaten and storm dealt with we continued to move along under somewhat lumpy conditions, making reasonable speed but heading slightly north of our planned course. Our next “happening thing” was the sighting of a fishing boat; we suspected that Y Not had sent them on to give us some aggravation. The boat we saw was 2 miles away from us but we picked up a second one at the same time about 8 miles away. They must both have been going away from us as we didn’t see them for very long. Gerry suddenly said he thought he saw something bobbing in the water, I laughed at him as he is always “seeing” things but we both looked out and sure enough he had seen a float in the water because I almost immediately saw it off to our port side. Panic ensued, with the fishing boats nearby it could only mean one thing – nets in the water; we carefully avoided it, made sure it wasn’t tagging along with us and kept a look out for more floats – we saw none so assumed that it was one that had gotten away. The wind came at us for the rest of the day from the north east; we want to know where in the south east trade winds does NORTH come into it? By mid afternoon the sea had dropped down but the swell was coming from 2 directions; gradient swell from one way and wind driven swell from 90 degrees off making it quite rolly and uncomfortable. We unfurled the jib again to see if it would steady us up a bit; Gerry had to try and do a bit of straightening of the telescoping pole to achieve this – it was a partial success. We aren’t sure how much pressure the pole will withstand now but for the time being it was doing a good job of holding the jib out and we continued to move along for the rest of the day and into the night with the sails goose winged out, flapping and banging the boom whenever the wind dropped below 10 knots, which was about every 10 minutes – it was very frustrating and made it difficult to sleep when the time came. Our final bit of “spotting” for the day was the tell tale water spout of whales off of our starboard beam just as we were eating dinner at dusk, they were a way off and didn’t come our way but we could see them blowing very clearly against the pale blue / pink skyline. The night shifts were horrid, the flapping, banging and rolling prevented both of us from sleeping for more than an hour at a time. It just goes to show that you must take sleep whenever you can get it – who knows when you’ll get the next chance.



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