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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vogons in the parking lot?

0700/25th position 2928 00248 trip 97 and desperately slow, mostly powered by diesel 1109 to CT
Radio dead once again.

As I write this, around 1830/24th, (yesterday) we are celebrating passing 5 deg W early this morning. I hope the Chain Locker mob is in session too, preparing for another six pints or so before dinner. Onya everyone!

We are a bit over 3000 miles from Cape Horn which is at 57 degrees south 68 west. South of the Horn is the 600 mile passage across to the Antarctic Peninsula called Drake Passage - Drake was never there (he sailed through the Strait of Magellan) but this passage spans a strip of the southern ocean that extends all the way around the world. It sits astride the westerly current and the band of fierce westerly winds that also extend around the world. Waves and swell in this band have an unlimited fetch so they can become really huge if storm conditions persist over long periods as we experienced four years ago. Here now in Berrimilla at nearly 30S, we are a long way north of this band of ferocity but I think we are just beginning to feel the big southern ocean swells that sweep up from the Horn and the intense low pressure systems down there and across the South Atlantic towards Africa. We have a SW swell with a wavelength of perhaps 150 metres, height perhaps 5 metres with the occasional wave that seems to be very much bigger. Someone will check the satellite data and tell me I'm wrong - always very difficult to estimate wave height from within. Anyway, they are not anywhere near big enough to lose a cathedral in the troughs as you could below 40S but perhaps the top edge of the influence of the maelstrom. A taste of things to come and the Examiner asserting her authority.

Much later - swell now dropped, along with what little wind there was - in serious wallow mode.
Later still - 0600/25th - the swell is still here, but smoother and so less obvious at night but can see it in daylight.

Deborah, thanks! - I'll write to you separately when the radio comes back, meantime you don't need permission!

Ron C and perhaps Carla - an odd sighting: position 29.18 S 003.01 W @ 01.56.30 UTC Nov 25th altitude about 45 deg, azimuth roughly south - a single white strobe, flashing every second or so without the usual flickering red and green and secondary strobes that usually go with passing aircraft. I saw about 10 flashes then it stopped - possibly a patch of high cloud - and did not reappear. It had the feel of being very high or distant and I could not discern movement against the background stars but it was really a fleeting glimpse anyway. Vogon mothership perhaps - do Vogons have mothers?

Malcom - many thanks. Warning noted - just like the Falklands, where kelp rafts are like solid islands, some of them anchored to the bottom and marked on the charts.

Sue - Pinkbok says Hi and what were you thinking of when you sent me out with these idiots? Hope the lurgy dissipating.