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Day14 Tues-Wed 16-17th October 2018 Solar panels' power input doubled!

Tuesday 3:30pm - I seem to have spent an age checking weather info on view of the forecast hurricane situation off theMexican coast over the next week. Seems that so long as we maintain our SSW-SW course and keep moving, even at present speeds, we should keep out of harm's way. By ten days' time, when a nasty system will possibly be threatening Cabo San Lucas, we should be getting close to 10N, 130W. The next challenge, from there on, will be negotiating the ITCZ and its often-nasty, unpredictable, unstable weather....No telling how that will go until one is either very close or into it. But being further W is usually better than trying to cross it more to the E where the band of convection is usually wider.

The wind has not been very helpful today - it regularly swings around, making our course change as a result (Fred, our trusty Hydrovane, keeps us at a constant angle to the wind). The wind was NE earlier today, then it went NW for a time and it has now decided to come from the N-NNE. I had a worried email from a friend that maybe I was headed too close to the Mexican coast before I gybed around yet again because of the change in wind direction. I'm trying to keep going SW-SSW. I can't head due W since there is a big area of calms that way - that wouldn't help me to get anywhere! So it's a matter of keeping a constant eye on the wind direction.

The good news is that the wind strength has increased a bit, so we're presently making 4.5-5 kt, rather than a lot less. In fact, we're making 6kt as I write this, in 15kt wind - almost certainly a passing gust - another cloud nearby, probably. Speed will drop again once it has passed.

Spent an age cleaning out the fridge last evening (switched off and acting as a dry locker) - some hummus had leaked out and gone everywhere - what a mouldy mess - yuck! TG for the calm conditions while I worked on it.

Overnight, I was woken by the creaking of the boom preventer holding the mainsail as it was backed after a wind change. Because the genoa pole supports creak a bit normally, it took me a while to realise that this creaking was from the prevented boom/mainsail and not from the pole. We were effectively hove-to and had drifted NW quite a distance before I managed to get us out of 'irons' again. I had to furl in a lot of the poled-out genoa and centre the main before I could persuade the boat to respond to the helm but eventually we were able to gybe around enough to get things back under control and make way on our course again. (There's no question of being able to tack around with a boat speed of under 1 knot! The 'no motor allowed' part of the 'unassisted' label on my RTW solo nonstop attempt makes some things difficult to achieve easily and provides quite a few challenges!)

The bonus of all that was getting to enjoy a beautiful clear, starry sky - I looked for the Southern Cross, which should now be visible during part of the night-time, if not all, but it was hidden by the sails. Sirius (so easy to find using Orion's 'belt') is now very high up and so is all of its constellation of Canis Major (the Big Dog).

Wed 11:30am With the solar panels in full sunlight, it seemed odd that we were only getting an input of 7A. I'd been wondering why the solar power input had seemed a bit low for some days now - surely it normally gave more, even when shaded a bit? Suddenly, it came to me that I should have checked the fuses -there'd been a problem with one wire's outer cover being found to be slightly chafed before leaving. Sure enough, I checked them (one fuse per panel, TG!) - one fuse removed... zero input now, but 7A seen beforehand - so that panel and fuse were fine. Replaced that fuse, took out the other - no change in the displayed input. I replaced it with a fresh 30A fuse. Hey presto! - solar power input doubled! We've been struggling with battery power, having to run the small genset I recently mended quite often - more than I like. Hopefully, the solar panels will now be doing a good job in the sunshine expected as we near the Tropics.

1200 PDT - end of Day14. We made 89 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday. Our speed has been consistently 3.5-4kt in the mainly light winds - higher gusts have been infrequent. I really need to get the asymmetric out and add it into the mix to see if it helps - another challenge!

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after midday PDT (=1900 GMT):

TIME: 2018/10/17 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 28-03.60N LONGITUDE: 125-43.53W COURSE: 200T SPEED: 4.0kt

WIND_SPEED: 10kt WIND_DIR: NE SWELL_DIR: NNW SWELL_HT: 1.0M CLOUDS: 40% BARO: 1021 TREND: 0

AIR_TEMP: 22.0C SEA_TEMP: 26.0C COMMENT: Sunshine and clouds. Sailing gently in slight swell. 550ml W of Cedros, 750ml W of Guaymas.

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