RTW Day 159 - Hove to in strong conditions...

An increase in wind and worries about the GPS unit cause Jeanne Socrates to heave to off the coast of Australia.

Fish in the scupper

Jeanne Socrates

Friday 29th March 2013 HAPPY EASTER!!

With zero Variation at present, no arithmetic needed to get from Magnetic (compass) heading to True heading... for a very short while, anyway...! We're now moving from variation West back to variation East - maximum W variation seen was 50 degrees when at 71-72E on 8th March, while passing north of Ile Kerguelen in the Southern Ocean. Variation was last seen to be zero 200 miles east of the Falklands, on 13th January - a week after passing Cape Horn.

7am Wind suddenly increased so furled away genoa. Expecting strong conditions today and tomorrow - seas 6m and winds 30kt - can always expect more than what is forecast...

No contact earlier with usual US E. coast group - no sign of them on usual frequency, although heard John, W1QS, speaking briefly to Kip, KI3P, on a nearby frequency.

Butane tank had come loose at base and was lying on deck, held still, but not looking too safe in these seas. Went and lashed its base and around its middle firmly to strong points - feeling better now I know it's more secure. These seas really test all fittings and attachments!

Found a tiny fish caught in deck scupper - looks like barracuda it's so long and thin - but has a really pointed, needle-like nose - wondering if it's maybe a swordfish? White-headed petrel was around again this morning - seems to have adopted us! ...and a Black-browed albatross.

Received emails about methods of hoisting damaged windgen onto top of pole - seems it might be feasible, so plan to resuscitate it is now back on hold, rather than abandoned. Not a lot to be done by way of forward preparation in present rough weather, but should be calmer in two days' time. Always dfficult to do much when seas are up and tossing us about - more a matter of staying in 'survival mode' rather than able to get anything constructive done....

10am Gybed mains'l short while ago - wind a lot stronger now: F5, gusting F6, & veered into WNW - goosewinged on very broad reach... Seas up more ... to 4-5m and we're surfing a little, at times. Being rolled about all the time....

1:30pm Decided we needed to heave to ... We were making 8-9kt (max. hull speed is 8.8kt!) and surfing frequently at 15kt or more - all too fast in 30-35kt wind and impressively big (5-6m) seas! ... and AP was having trouble coping ... Also got worried on seeing SOG giving weird readings - began to wonder if GPS unit on radar mount was OK - maybe wire was damaged.. or getting stressed??

Watched to see how boat was behaving in relation to waves and wind - looked OK so finally went down below, had a good meal and relaxed with coffee and book... then caught up with a lot of emails - almost up to date! Wind piped up more, occasionally, but we're just rocking or rolling around a bit as the seas pass by.

Chatted several times on radio during afternoon and over evening. Lots of Aussie and US contacts - a highly sociable Friday evening!

DMG at 1100 GMT: 105 n.ml. C. Leeuwin: 715 n.ml. (WNW); King Island (entrance to Bass Strait): 788 n.ml. ; SE Cape of Tasmania: 890 n.ml.
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For my positions, see:
- 'Travels' - "Where is 'Nereida'?"
and/or: