RTW Day 148 - Fast start & end to day - and solar flare disrupts radio comms...

Still making good speed at over 6kt, but not being thrown around as much as we were earlier - slightly more comfortable!

Monday 18th March 2013

Magnetic variaton has recently started reducing from its high of 50W on 8th March, when NNE of Kerguelen at <sub>71E. It's now down to 33W, as of tonight, with the switch from zero E to W having been noted on 13th Jan at 52W, just east of the Falklands. From my passage this way last year, I expect the switch back to E variation (via zero!) to occur near 124-125E, about 1000 ml W of Hobart, as I'm crossing the Gt Australian Bight in about 10 days' time. In order to give true readings for course and wind direction, I'm constantly having to make the relevant addition or subtraction, which is why I keep a constant note in my logbook of the current value.  

As expected, with the wind veering to the W, I had to gybe the mains'l to starboard again, just before midnight, and go goose-winged with poled-out headsail. Staysail was used, being overnight, although wind was only F4, so not so very strong at the time, but it increased overnight to around 20kt or more by early morning by which time we were making over 7kt in 4m seas - rough, bumpy conditions, with me on the verge of tying in the third reef....  

Midday - grey, damp, cold , slight rain. Sun tried to get through the cloud a short while ago - looked hopeful but didn't manage it. Sea 12C, cabin 13-14C - just added another pair of fleece trousers! Wind from W </sub>20kt, seas well up - still easily 4m and not so far apart, so rather rough but we're making good speed, with slight surfing on top of the big waves.  

2.30pm Tried to download weatherfax - but propagation causing a problem so nothing received - solar flare is really disrupting comms...  
Still making good speed at over 6kt, but not being thrown around as much as we were earlier - slightly more comfortable! Suspect the wind might have eased a bit but not by much, judging from the sea-state - still a good F5... seas are still quite big at around 4m, but possibly spaced out further apart which definitely helps - was out in cockpit just now, watching them approach our stern - impressive to see these steep faces coming closer, with foam patches where tumbling crests have subsided!! Still grey and cold but slight drizzle has stopped.  

Plenty of birds around -how they love the stronger conditions! A small storm petrel near the boat - forever circling. Dark upperparts with white rump and mainly white underbody... Darting around so fast always, very difficult to get a good look at details... never far above the water... long dangling dark legs, with feet forever pattering in the surface...fascinating to watch them, but I have to turn around constantly if I want to keep my eyes fixed on them. Taking a photo in these rough sea conditions combined with their fast movement is well nigh impossible!  

Have been studying the' Atlantic petrels' I've been seeing around the boat - they're here again today - 3 or 4 of them. Dark upper parts, dark breast band, mainly dark underwings, dark tail underneath... Really need to get photos to identify them positively but that's so difficult just now... So much easier to take photos successfully in calm conditions... and the dull light is not helping matters.  

Wind up again tonight - just a little, but means we're making 6.5-7 kt - hopefully, it won't increase any further -this much is plenty!  

DMG at 1100 GMT: 137 n.ml. C. Leeuwin: 1026 n.ml. (061T); WP due S of C. Leeuwin : 778 n.ml: King Island (entrance to Bass Strait) : 2068 n.ml. ; SE Cape of Tasmania: 2117 n.ml.  
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For my positions, see:  
http://www.svnereida.com - 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"  
and/or:  
http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/