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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last one for 2009

Position 0630 31st 3716 02535 trip 93 DMG 92! Yay! But now in wallow and drift mode again.
Last position report for 2009 and tonight is the blue moon...

The word I wanted a few days ago was troposphere. Thanks Sue.

Have just started reading Doug's extracts from the early explorers' logs and diaries about Kerguelen - the islands and the man. I had no idea there had been so many French aristocrats down here looking for the great south land. Dagelet's paper to the French academy is in French and there are some term that I don't know but he was an interesting man - and thoroughly disillusioned with Kerguelen, his Commander in Chief. Amongst many other observations, Dagelet climbed Table Mountain with a mercury barometer to try to measure its height, noting the difference between the sea level and summit readings - not an easy day's outing! And he noted the phosphorescence around Ile Kerguelen and observed that it was not as brilliant as in the tropics. Captain Clerke of the Discovery, with Cook also in Cape Town, noted the fierce south east winds, so full of sand as to render their observatory instruments useless within minutes. Plus ca change! We still have the stuff everywhere.

Huge flocks of smallish birds - I think they are Prions which are very difficult to identify accurately but my best guess is Antarctic Prions. They fly around us for a bit in big swirls and disappear - just ignoring us completely.

Gordy - tks for msg - recalcitrant of me should have said Hi earlier.

Bottom to top

It really does seem that we may have escaped the clutches of the Agulhas Tongue. And its gullet. Tracking more or less south @ 5 knots having crossed the edge of the main shelf and just north of a big trench - spectacular (ocean!)bottom features on the chart - the bottom of the trench is at about 6700 metres below the surface and 60 miles or so north is a peak or seamount rising to 1800 metres, so a 5000 metre drop. And more of the same all around. Not sure but I think the highest peak base to apex in the world is the island of Hawaii which, taken from the ocean floor is much higher than Chomolungma - but then if you measure from the floor of the Mariana Trench to the top of Chomolungma you get a really big number - roughly 12+ 9 = 21000 metres. A vertical half marathon. All ballpark and idle nonsense because I'm conscious of the fact that I'm beginning to repeat myself in these bursts of baloney.
The plan: keep going south and east till we reach 3730 - 3800S and then turn left and follow the latitude across to within range of the 900 mile dive to Kerguelen, by which time we should have a feel for the conditions and Berri's state of mind to say nothing of the geriatrics in charge. This is really easy, pleasant sailing at the mo - almost makes up for the last week. I seem to remember that once clear of Africa, the lows tend to move south and if I'm right, we can move with them.

Things that work - our Airbreeze wind generator. Nice gear but with a design fault (in my opinion) for the marine version that makes it almost impossible to adjust. There's a tiny screw on the side that adjusts voltage cut in and cut out settings via a potentiometer but it's so tiny and the adjustments so fine and the device so high above the deck that it's pot luck what you get. It ought not be necessary to adjust of course, but in our case and I'm sure lots of others', murphy strikes. A big knob or better still having the adjustment screw set up in the on/off switch box inside the boat - far less dangerous (no need to cling to the tripod on tiptoes on the pushpit bars unable to focus on the screw at arms length in reading glasses and can't even see it without) and more effective. I shall write to them when we get home.

Doug - just about to get into your envelope of Kerguelen goodies - had lots of prelim looks but no serious reads yet.
Malcom, I still have a MMSI for Dufresne in the VHF. Any chance you could try to get us a phone number for someone in charge of the anchorage - even M.le Maire soi-meme? CT was so busy I never got near a French official. Tks.