FROM 1-5. Mid Pacific to Heading South

Feb 16, 2005 - 0325hrsUTC

0325hrs 16 Feb 2005 UTC 46’19”S 131’43”W Map Ref 66 3696nm

I’ve been asked what the weather is like down here. We are in the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) where warm moist air out of the highs to the north mixes with much colder air coming from the lows down south – where the tropics meet the westerlies just above the roaring forties. This means cloud all the time, mist most of the time, light rain occasionally and everything always damp and dripping. Not really very pleasant and we haven’t seen the full sun for days although, as now, it is sometimes visible up there behind a layer of cloud and Pete is out trying to get a sight. Water temp about 12 deg, outside air temp at a guess about 17. Mild and pleasant today, but probably won’t last long. If we were to go further south, it would be colder, the wind would be generally much stronger, the seas would be much bigger and we might still not see the sun. There is another CZ circling the tropics where the cyclones occur and the Antarctic CZ at about 55 south. The ACZ is where cold polar water meets the warmer current from the north, and warm and cold airstreams mix to give much more pronounced effects than here. We may meet this one down near the Horn in a couple of weeks, along with some ice, perhaps.

The continuous damp semi-gloom is a bit depressing and we look forward to those glimpses of the sun. I’m sure the Devoncroo would understand. It’s important, too, to manage the physical effects that go with the conditions; for instance my fingers go white and soft and start to peel, particularly around the nails, every time they get wet because they never get a chance to dry out completely. I wear gloves on deck and change into polyprop glove liners below to try to keep the fingers warm and to wick the damp out of them and it helps, as does the occasional dose of industrial grade lanolin that we use to lubricate shackles and other equipment. And I always wear latex gloves to sponge out the bilge, which is generally a bit talkative. The alternative to all this is nasty cracks around the nails which become infected very easily. Same deal with feet- I always wear boots on deck with a set of thick sox inside, sometimes with the waterproof Sealskinz sox on top and keep a pair of woolly norwegian ski sox below to wear with my Blundstone sandals (which insulate the feet from clammy deck) and to sleep in. Very important to keep the sleeping kit scrupulously dry too. We have sleeping bags inside lightweight waterproof bivvy bags and a set of dry clothes to sleep in. The whole lot gets zipped into the bivvy bag when not in use. All relatively easy to do here because we aren’t being bashed so our deck gear stays reasonably dry and there is little chance of water getting inside. And the wet weather gear dries very quickly too when it does get wet.

Timezones are tricky. We are continuously moving east so never in a constant relationship with youse all out there. We are about 3.5 hours ahead of the dateline here, so about 6.5 hours ahead of east coast Australia and a day behind. We have our evening meal around lunchtime tomorrow in Sydney and very early morning in England. As for China, Taiwan, North and South America, too hard. Is it your today or yesterday…

From Gerry and Donna

Alex and Pete,

Skipper of “”Australis”” is Roger Wallis all round good guy x owner Spirit. Skipper of “”Pelargic Australis”” is Steven Wilkins x AMC and RYA Examiner ,instrumental in setting up RYA in Australia,both listen to sked and will give advice to you on request.Darryl Day skipper of Spirit is to be avoided,is a dangerous know all.Cath is now a bad debtor refusing to pay for services recently rendered.

Calita (meaning bay)Marsial is located at 55*49’S and 67*35’W has a large vessels bouy laid by Chilean Navy in middle of well protected( from  SW-NW winds) small bay, good holding ,in 10 meters, no kelp.Do you have a chart ,if not will send nav instructions from abeam Cape Horn,to Calita Marsial You should ask permission from Cape Horn Chilean Navy lighthouse to anchor at above location.I will be off line for a week,working Bass Straight.

Gerry, thanks for info – yes, do have a chart. Hi Nick and Penny – missed you a week or so ago, and I think Keith would have approved. Michael, think about the hassle of getting eyedrops in – great fun, and I’m getting to be quite good at picking the moment to let go with both hands and squeeze the bottle while I hold a light so that I can see it.

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