FROM 1-27. Indian Ocean Examiner

Nov 01, 2005 - 2250hrs UTC

2250hrs 01 Nov 2005 UTC 39’24”S 032’36”E Ref 511

Story of a watch – 01/1500-1800: Grey overcast with light, barely visible diaphanous mist over the water. Black petrels plus a small grey one and a lone, twin tailed tern milling around. The watch started with the storm jib and the trisail – comfortable and easy in about 25 kts from the N, 2 metre confused swell, 5.5 through the water, no measurable current, T 19.4. I came on and almost immediately the wind began to fade and we took down the tri  and storm jib and set the main with 3 reefs and the cutdown – big, fiddly job. Pete started cooking the evening meal, I rinsed some grease from a newly opened packet of cheese into the sea and the petrels moved in and fought for the bits – they are with us because they must sense a source of food and they fly tight circles around the back of the boat, especially when we are eating in the cockpit. The wind came back in at about 30+, Berri sliding off the waves, green water over the decks and we dropped the cutdown and set the 4. Half an hour later, back to the cutdown and we gave ourselves a gin for effort, despite today being a day of abstinence in the new conservation regime (on the basis that as we close the Australian coast, anything – even no gin – will be bearable). I sat, damp and draggly, in the cockpit monitoring developments and Pete sent up the Pasta of the Day – Chefsway Spag Bog, with the block of cheese to grate into it. Petrels very interested, tighter circles. Wind dying to nothing. Rinsed out bowl, Pete to bed and I tossed the third reef – wind now all but gone, sloppy confused sea, lots of gyration killing forward progress. Immediately tossed the second and first reefs – no appreciable wind but enough showing on the instrument to give a clue as to direction to steer. Both sails slatting and banging – mostly inside out, or so it seemed.  Not enough for Kevvo, so alternately hand steered and fiddled with sheet leads, mainsail shape, preventer – bloody everything that could help to induce forward motion. Wet, cold, white wrinkled hands. For a few minutes there was a flaming orange gash in the gloom to the west as the sun set behind a thinner patch of overcast. Around 1700, faint suspicion of breeze – re lead cutdown sheet right aft to spinnaker turning block to flatten sail, sheet in main and slowly bring Berri up onto the new breeze. Numbers on the log – 0.4, 0.7, 1.2… Direction more or less E. Handed over to Pete at 1800 with 2.5 kts on the clock, T now 15.8, heading East. Total miles for the three hours, about 6, GPS showing snaky path all over the ocean, but generally east. Huge headbang, but every mile coming right off the top.

The Ampair generator has just about expired, with what sound like completely collapsed bearings. It has done a wonderful job, considering the extreme abuse it has endured. It worked perfectly for about 16000 miles including some the severest and nastiest bashings available, with every variation of speed, waves, skipping turbine and turbulence thrown at it. I should have thought to have its bearings serviced in the UK – or have looked for a second hand spare. Big mistake – next time I will know. I think that its eventual expiry has been well within the definition of fair wear and tear and I have no complaints. I’m sure that with more benign treatment, it would have run for a lot longer. (is – don’t know if george reads this – pse tell him he can quote this para if he wants . ta)

On experience over the last few days, we are not going to get enough sunlight to get us home at our present power consumption rate. Tomoz has promise, and will wait and see. I think, though, that we will need to consider turning off the instruments and the gps for large chunks of each day – or perhaps overnight. I will try to keep the laptop running so that I can write these and we’ll look at one transmission per day, probably in our evening when propagation is best.

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