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Monday, January 4, 2010

Early position

Position 0600 4th 3849 03225 trip 96 DMG 77. Looks as if we will have to zigzag our way along the 39th parallel and suss out the dive to Kerguelen when we get a bit further across. Tedious. We really need a 5 day gap between lows when they are this nasty to get down there safely and it's not looking too good.

Been bare poling all night and I've just climbed out of zoot suit after unrolling a bit of headsail and bringing Berri around from tracking NE to roughly E. The great circle to Hobart via Kerguelen would be about 150 deg T. Thr rhumb line with zigzags will be about 600 miles further. SPBF.

3 neurons too tired to indulge in fancy stuff - but bottle green sea, bright and luminous in the patches of sunlight, several Yellow Noses soaring around the boat - wonderful to watch the aerodynamics of those wings and the use of the body as a counterweight - sometimes the feet extend as airbrakes. And a couple or four smaller Prions, I think. Fione, yep, I know about the other sort.

Bloody hell - still some big waves - often happens as a storm is abating.

Middle of the night

Actually about 2 hours to sunrise here. I think the main front has gone through - max gust Pete saw was 47 kts and now steady 35 - 40. Bare poled, heading NE at 5+, Berri all snugged down, stern tube closed and I'm monitoring the sitch from inside, dry suit at the ready to wriggle into if there seems to be a bit of the embryonic pearshaped out there. Uncomfortable roll, knees once again pressed up under the nav table, wrists locked against the near edge as I prod the keyboard. Wind has varying and varied conversations - not really slanging matches - with the rig and it does seem to be abating just a poopytill. Nice and dry inside, relatively speaking, after Pete's excellent work in Cape Town bogging the chainplates. Berri being Tarago sized, it's impossible not to bring a bucket or so of water down into the boat on the wet weather gear every time we venture outside and return so everything damp.

Sea building - just been visited by a big one from out of left field. Like being caressed by a steam hammer. It will continue to build all day or at least until the wind abates significantly - TGS about another 5 hours or so. There goes another of the bastards Keep em crossed. Little storm petrel in the black gloom earlier, before the blast - sensed, not seen, as a fluttering shadow.

Carla, will send separate note later but use the sailmail address if you still have it.

Gentle menace.

Hot, grey-blue hazy day. The sea has changed colour from deep iridescent blue to glassy jade green - not the deep bottle green of the Bering sea but almost milky as the light reflects off the tiny organisms that live here. I wonder whether cold water, generally, is greener than warm. The temperature is now 21 deg, way down from not too long ago.

Soft line of cloud low all along the western horizon - puffy and gentle, still reflecting sunlight. When the sun gets behind it, it will have real menace - black lowering and almost solid. It's the beginning of the frontal system - perhaps 8 hours away, so when most of you in Australia read this, it will be with us and past. But for us, it's always the waiting that gets under the skin and corrodes the shiny bits (three highly polished and overused neurons...).

As it approaches, we will put in the second and third reefs (I've just done the first, to balance the boat and help Kevvo keep her straight) and eventually drop the main, lash it to the boom, preventers either side to lock it all in place, slightly to leeward and sloping downwards towards the stern to let the water run off and out of it. Then we'll roll in the headsail progressively and maybe even end up bare poled. Experience says double the forecast GRIB wind speed to get an accurate fix on the likely maximum gust speeds. We're looking at 60+.

So there ya go.