Day 16 towards Cape Horn - mostly drifting in light wind

Tuesday 6th November 2012

10a.m. PST - We've not moved far from San Francisco since leaving there yesterday morning! We're just 55 ml W of Santa Cruz, at the N end of Monterey Bay, in fact With my coffee, I'm enjoying one of the Gayle's 'biscotti', full of almonds,sent to me from there. Thanks again, Brian - they're lovely!  

Overnight the wind was very light and, from the 8 kt from NNW of early evening (which was fine since we could make a good S-SSW course), it gradually got even lighter, to 3kt, and veered to the E-SE. When the fast 'Pacific Link' passed by, at 2am, we had zero boat speed and were making 0.3kt with current, heading SW after gybing around earlier to prevent us from getting any closer inshore - not that the sails were doing very much!!.  

This morning, the decks are drying out from the very heavy dew, the sky is clear blue and the sea is oily smooth, with a big W swell very clear to see: 3m every 9 sec. Around 8am, when I spoke to the Maritime Mobile Net and then to the 'Baja Net', we had actually got up to 3-4kt, headed WSW in 8kt of SSW wind - but that didn't last long and the wind has now become 'light and variable' (2 kt and swinging around all over the place!) - meaning it's very difficult to know how to set the sails to make any progress! We're basically just drifting in the current.... but we're mainly going S!  

This is likely to continue for another 1-2 days, with good wind not expected until Thursday.  

There's a lot of traffic around, going up & down the coast, so it would have been better to have been further out to sea, to avoid most of it, as I'd hoped to be. Because we're transmitting on AIS, 'Nereida" is seen by the ships - and they usually steer clear.... Good news since I can't use my motor.  

4pm Earlier, the tanker 'Alpine Persefone' and now 'Clipper Harmony' both altered course to starboard, heading N, to keep well away - had them worried, I think, seeing me swinging around in light wind under wind steering, after telling them I was a sailboat with no motor.....! "Please hold your course!" the guy on 'Clipper Harmony' begged of me!! Actually, we were averaging a consistent 195T and they were well off our port bow (over a mile away), so there wasn't any real problem. Thick fog at the time, so radar and AIS combined to keep an eye out for any traffic... and there's been a lot, moving up & down the coast.  

By 1pm, the wind had swung to NNW and settled at NW 10-12kt - so suddenly, we were making an excellent 6 knots...! Still foggy, so feeling decidedly chilly and damp, but in the fairly calm conditions was able to open the galley seacock & wash some underwear - something that's not possible if it's rough.  

Contact on 14300kHz with the Pacific Seafarers Net at 0300GMT/1900PST takes place in darkness now - spoke to Cirrus, ZL2CVJ, in Ligar, S. Island, New Zealand - good copy on her and also Gary, ZL1GLM, on the N. Island.  

Good sailing continued into the night - it feels good to be making good progress at last! We averaged 2 kt over the 24hrs to my daily report at 2300Z/1500PST!  

Weather/position report to Winlink/Yotreps:  
TIME: 2012/11/06 23:00GMT  
LAT: 36-41.26N LONG: 123-11.30W COURSE: 195T SPEED: 6.0  
WIND_SPEED: 13 WIND_DIR: NW SWELL_DIR: WNW SWELL_HT: 2.5M SWELL_PER: 8  
CLOUDS: 100% BARO: 1017 TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 21.0C SEA_TEMP: 17.0C  
COMMENT: 24hr DMG:49ml; Golden Gate Bridge:76ml; 61ml W of Monterey. Foggy-feels much colder!