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January 3, 2014

2014, 28S 4255E

Struggling with sleepiness on my midnight to four. Onora slowing down to 5.8kn. Wind down to 8kn. A perfect sea day.

All fixable projects are taken care of and Onora is sailing into the wind on flat sea. Sun, warmth, vast blue oc0ean all around. Just us and our few pertals and Lonsome (our albatross soaring majestically , now here after being gone for a day, keeping watch from afar.

Onora heads south to 41 or 42 to get under the Indian Ocean High, now at 39S and 60E. Below are westerlies but I am not too eager to get there. We have sailable winds here, light but a decent angle. Do we sail to our plan or what we have right now? This is not an ocean which gets much shipping or land living so not much weather information and the forecasts may not be accurate.

January 7, 2014

4042S 5534E

It is grey, chilling and endless. The 26 knot wind moans and the seas are building but Onora plows through the mist. Take in some sail. Don't drive her too hard.

Report from Roy in Durban is that a low is in front of us with winds 32-39 out of the south tomorrow. This brings a pit in the stomach. It will be a hard 48 hours. Jeannie will not be happy.

We will spend the day getting the boat ready: stowing and making food to freeze now and reheat in bad conditions.

January 8, 2014

4037S 5948E

The raw grey of the past three days continues - winds force 7 - as we a approach the low that is giving us winds. They come from the right direction but are too strong, along with large seas that bounce us and sweep over the deck. Onora staggers with the punch and drives on.

My day begins at midnight when Jeannie calls time and I crawl out of the coffin (our shared narrow sea bunk.) I pull on a sweatshirt and jeans and meet her in the pilot house. Winds are down to 25kn and I fell off the course a bit to stop the pounding. No ships. There is water in the kettle. She climbs below to the still warm bunk while I sit and stare at the instruments for a minute, focus, and then to the galley for the instant coffee.

All is good so I read for an hour in the pilot house occasionally looking at the radar and the computer screen for shipping targets. Five days ago a target showed up that came within twenty miles of us-otherwise-empty ocean. Next, I sit at the navigation station and write a couple of emails. Conditions are best at night for radio broadcast and, after reviewing frequencies and our distance from the station in South Africa, I choose the best and push a button. My radio sends out a call that is heard by a land based station. It takes a couple of minutes for each email which the land station then passes on to internet. It also collects email for us and holds until I connect tomorrow night.

The wind is back up so I put on my foul weather jacket, pants and sea boots to go to the cockpit to roll in some of the jib. Two more hours to read and stay awake.

Jeannie wakes me again at eight and replaces me in the coffin to sleep until noon. After a couple of course adjustments and cups of coffee, I am back in the navigation station recording our position and events into the log. At nine, I tune the radio for the South African Peri Peri Net run by Roy, a radio operator in Durban. On good propagation days Roy takes our position and gives us a weather report. Too much static today so we agree to try in the afternoon.

At ten-twenty, I tune into the South African Ham radio net. Graham, ZS2ABK, also a volunteer, runs the net. He has a more powerful rig than Roy and is able to give me a detailed weather forecast for our position for the next three days. There is a low just below us that will move off but these conditions will continue for the next three days. Then, on Saturday, the winds will be right behind us, the sun will return, and we will be able to fix the things that are waiting for calmer seas.

I have checked the water and fuel supply-both good.

[ Click here for Pt. II ]




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