FROM 1-28. How Low To Go? Towards 45°S

Nov 08, 2005 - 0500hrs UTC

0500hrs 08 Nov 2005 UTC 39’53”S 046’25”E Ref 532

Well, life does have its ups and downs. There we were, all ready to charge off to frighten some French penguins to the very unfrightening tempo of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy when along comes the Examiner and slams the door. The wind has backed to the SE and the baro is rising so we must be at the top corner of a high to the west somewhere, but we ain’t got no VMG for Gabo – the best we can do for the GC track is VMG = 0, but often minus, so it is marginally positive for the rhumb line. Depressing – or it is when the Examiner is not looking. No point in tacking – the best we’d do would be about the same on the other tack. We have a very low, thin furious looking overcast with lumpier bits embedded in it and occasional bursts of the palest sunlight which drives up the panel amps into positive for a few seconds. Still blowing about 30kts

Health matters – we’re both losing the skin from our fingers – my first and second fingertips are now down through the first six or so layers and down to the bright pink living skin. Keeping the industrial lanoline up to them and will start wearing gloves on deck. Makes intricate things very difficult – just have to fumble slowly or, as one of my favourite Lecturers once wrote, employ the science of muddling through. (That was Leon Peres at Melbourne Uni, talking about bureaucratic capacity for dealing with uncertainty. Has this any element of wisdom?)

And it’s cold – this wind has been trawling up the Antarctic icicles and the water seems to be very cold indeed, altho when I last switched on the instruments, it was about 13 Deg. The condensation is pretty bad but manageable. Gets really bad at night.

For the first time, I can look at this venture as a finite exercise – Act 5, Scene 2 has a maximum of 48 days to go. Whether there is an Act 6 is anyone’s guess but we’re working on it. In one way it helps, but in these conditions, 48 days – 7 weeks – seems to be a very long time. I think we’re closing on the dreaded 36K mark when it’s all pain to the finish. We are driving the boat as hard as we dare – kept the 2 on for far too long last night, but made a few miles, only to have to get up at dawn in the cold and horizontal wet and swap it for the 4. Must be a bit like the  decisions facing the Tea Clipper Captains, with similar deadlines but much, much more to lose if they pushed too hard. I try sometimes to imagine Cutty Sark – a huge sailing ship – going full tilt down here – the noise and the flying water and the crew up on the yards and the sheer power of the rig trying to pull itself out of the hull. Those men must have been nerveless or died early of stress.

From Malcom C.

Thanks to Malcolm R I know what a CPA is.  CPA Dufresne is between 0800 and 1200 UTC on 8 November.  Assuming you have begun heading a bit south I estimate you will be at about 40.30S 46.30E at 0800 UTC on 8 November and by then Dufresne should be at 40S 53E at 0800 UTC on 8 November.  CPA will be in the following four hours.  Haven’t done the math but I guess 200+NM separation would you say 

FYI, Ile Crozet is at about 47S 52E and Kerguelen 48S 69E.  I get 3 hourly positions of Dufresne so can pick up course changes and likely destinations quite easily.

Supply ship Aurora Australis is currently at Davis Base, Antarctica at 77E. I imagine it will then go to Mawson Base at 63E and I guess to Heard Island after that, which would then be back in an area of interest.

Malcom, we’ll try calling Dufresne at 0900, but I doubt whether they will be listening on HF – they will have their GMDSS operating and will need a DSC call to wake them up. I could send one to their mmsi number, but it means rigging another aerial and then I’m not sure what their working frequency would be. I’ll try on 2182 on the basis that that is what Ile Amsterdam monitors. Later – tried both Dufresne and Amsterdam – no rnser.

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