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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Birds and all that jazz

Time for a bit of description. 2 magnificent albatrosses - Snowy, NZ or Tristan - huge, and as they scythe towards you all you see is the razor slash of the dihedral curve of their wings, speckled leading edges, yellow dot of a beak, two tiny eyes all set in a circle of white in the middle of that huge curve. They rock slightly when it it really windy, then bank away - white underparts, fine black edges. Sometimes they bank the other way - black wings, white splashes on the inners, white, mottled shoulders and back, black tail - exhilarating.

Plus a couple of much smaller black browed and another slightly bigger, very similar but with a grey head. White chins and prions in crowds.

And diving petrels - lovely - little heads bobbing around ahead of the boat, they peer at us and there's a blur, instant glimpse of upended rump, widening circle of ripples and they surface 20 metres away and look at us again. Fun.

The sun a pale glow through the fogbanks - occasional patches of blue, rolling fog all around, filtered light. Deep greenish blue icy sea. Berri placid, gentle rolling, whizzer moaning at the back as it harnesses the gentle breeze and fires wiggly amps at the batteries.

Wouldn't be in the big smoke for quids...

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Waiting for the blast.

Position 0645 20th 4824 06742 trip 111, DMG 116 so some current, perhaps. We are 43 miles from Bligh's Cap, bare poled, basically parked at 2.5 kts waiting for the front to go through. We are actually going too fast, but there's not much we can do about that.

If the grib is accurate and we get lucky, it will be mostly through by midnight UTC tonight - 17 hours time - which is also first light here so if we can manage to miss the rocky bits we should be close enough to see where we are going and we can decide what to do. I've just finished a repack of the forepeak to give us access to anchors, fenders, inflatable etc. Now we just wait.

I'll keep you posted as often as possible - lots will depend on how busy we are and also Iridium access if we get close in and perhaps out of the satellite's footprint.


It will be close. We are about 14 - 18 hours from Baie de LOiseau on present progress but the wind is dying. That would put us there in the dark - tricky in a gale. There certainly won't be any moonlight. There's a nasty front coming in from the west with 30+ knots in it - not clear (never is!) exactly what path it will take. Options, therefore are first, slow down and let it go through (the dying wind might enforce this one anyway). I don't have a good enough digital chart to get in close at night and doing it on a paper chart in the black dark is not feasible. Option 2, if the wind holds, get in as close as we can in daylight and have a look. Then, if it seems ok, get behind the peninsula and either shelter or try for the Baie. If not ok, stand off to the north, cop the blast and either try again for the Baie tomoz when/if it's gone through or, if our stand off has taken us too far down wind, head for Port aux Francais.

Malcom, no need to copy to B2 if you send direct.

As I write, the 'slow down' option firms by the moment but things change so fast that - well, who knows? We'll play it back to the bowler. Watch this space.