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S/V Nereida sails around the world

Wed 5pm A very relaxed day - no major projects underway! Mostly overcast, but thin cloud layer and with increasing breaks. Fairly settled conditions after last night's rain and strong wind followed by a lack of wind. The sun tried often to get out but never managed it for long - but it has been fairly bright despite that.

The weather files I've looked at indicate mainly light winds ~10kt for the next 2-3 days, increasingly from the N as we get closer to the High pressure area centred to our SE. We're under full canvas now, having earlier released the first reef I tied in overnight. Winds could become strong and/or variable on Sunday/Monday as we get close to a small Low (or trough) with associated rain. It's even possible that winds could become SE, and so head us for a time, unless we can keep well to the E as we head roughly SE now.

One of my minor projects dealt with today was rigging up a line to hold down the chopping board from flying around should we be so unlucky as to broach or turn turtle... I use the board often so the system had to be quick and easy to undo but holding it down firmly otherwise...

My other mini-project is to support the big JSD (Jordan Series Drogue) bag on the pushpit - it's looking rather droopy and I'd hate it to fall down while underway because the straps holding it in place have given way. I've found a good sturdy strap with a strong but easy-to-use closure - tomorrow's job.

6.45pm PST Getting dark - time to prepare for the Pacific Seafarers Net at 0300GMT.

Thurs 9.30am Ambling along under full sail at 5.5-6kt in ENE 10kt wind under a mainly overcast sky - rather grey to the W, with some tiny bits of blue elsewhere. Sun trying to get out. Seas relatively calm - still the usual E-ENE 2.5m/8ft swell but fairly gentle - well separated.

About to have my morning coffee and soon it's time to prepare my daily report. Running the small generator for a time - not much power coming in to batteries just now - from neither wind nor sun.

10.50am Well, we WERE ambling - but then I felt the boat heeling a lot as the wind suddenly increased - rain..! Reduced the genoa a touch to bring us more upright - the boat's getting a good washdown just now. Of course, soon afterwards the wind died right down for a time... At least I got to that coffee...

11.30am Wind keeps gusting up to 19kt or so as we come under another raincloud - speed up to 7.5kt or more... Mixed bag of speed and course just now... all depending whether we're under, or close to, a cloud or not. Sun trying to shine from patches of blue sky in between the showers. Definitely not a time to relax over my coffee!! I'm a little bit wet from several trips topside!

1900 GMT (=1100PST) - end of Day 43. We made 128 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1900 GMT position

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

TIME: 2018/11/15 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 23-31.44S LONGITUDE: 125-40.65W COURSE: 175T SPEED: 7.1kt

WIND_SPEED: 18kt WIND_DIR: ENE SWELL_DIR: E SWELL_HT: 2.5m

BARO: 1019.3hPa TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 25.0C SEA_TEMP: 30.0C

COMMENT: Lots of rain squalls around - SOG and COG highly variable!

Tues 3.30pm Just finished changing connection of ground wire from solar panels - that had not been done yesterday and needed to be - hopefully, now I'll see input to batteries from solar power. Nice to know they're working but even better to see a benefit!

Sky has become quite overcast but wind still consistently from NNE-ENE at 10-15kt - in fact, it has been for several days now.

Weather is looking fair for one or two more days but it seems that we might get becalmed later. Pressure has been steadily rising over the last day or so and we could find ourselves right in the centre of a High as it develops and its centre moves E across our path. Hopefully, we'll stay on the edge of it where there's some wind, however light. As a result, we might also even get S winds for a time- again not easy to avoid - I'll have to decide which way to head if that happens.

No longer as gentle a ride as earlier - still making a course just E of due S but heading more into NE seas now, with wind from ENE at present.

Time for tea and to think about tonight's meal. I've been so busy with wiring I've had nothing since mid-morning - I'm hungry! I'm thinking a 'chili con carne'of sorts sounds good and easy to fix - there'll be enough for tomorrow as well.

10pm Just had some rain! And strong wind... Reefed down and we were immediately far more comfortable, not heeling so much, and still making good speed. Wind veered ahead of rain and then slowly backed afterwards - we went in a semi-circle!

Gave the boat a good rinse off, I'm hoping... It needs one.

11pm Wind has veered to SE at 7kt! Makes it rather difficult to head just E of S, as we have been... Maybe another rain cloud lurking ahead...?

Wed 1.30am It certainly was! But with almost no wind - so quiet it felt weird! Gave me chance to wipe down the windscreen - had accumulated salt spots. We drifted around for a time while I played with first reef items. With the rainfall, sail had collected water, so hoisted it and then tied in first reef again, along with nettles, a mast tie-in on the luff reef cringle and a boom tie-in of leech reef cringle. Felt sure reef would be needed when wind came up again later, so was a good exercise for me to do all that in quiet, calm conditions - albeit by headlamp!

Missed a radio sched overnight - stopped the alarm and must have turned straight over to catch up on much-needed sleep...!

Soon after sunrise, the expected wind came up - 12-14kt. I was wakened by the noise of the genoa - it needed sheeting in and my tie-down on the wheel had moved out of position. I was pleased to see the wind was from ENE again, so we could make a good course. Trimmed sails, adjusted Fred - by 6:30am, we were underway nicely, making SSE at 6kt. Back to my bunk for couple of hours more sleep before breakfast.

Conditions have stayed the same all morning - overcast skies, with sun trying to get out in occasional breaks. Mainly ENE wind at 12-15kt, seas a bit lumpy but not too bad. Making good use of my sturdy 'bum strap' in the galley, to stay me safe and secure while working there, heeled over with the boat's motion.

Have been studying weather files, as usual - a mixed bag of high and low pressure systems, with strong wind and rain on Cold Fronts, as we head further S, out of the Tropics - difficult to decide which will be the best way to head, at times...

1900 GMT (=1100PST) - end of Day 42. We made just 99 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1900 GMT position - the result of almost no wind for a time overnight and drifting around ...

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

TIME: 2018/11/14 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 21-30.59S LONGITUDE: 126-27.52W COURSE:164T SPEED: 6.0kt

WIND_SPEED: 14kt WIND_DIR: ENE SWELL_DIR: ENE SWELL_HT: 3.0m

CLOUDS: 90% BARO: 1020.3hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 25.0C SEA_TEMP: 31.0C

COMMENT: Bright, sunny day - plenty of cloud but no rain in sight.Pitcairn:SW300ml

Just lost all I'd written as I was about to post it.... GRRR!!! So here's an abbreviated version....!

Many thanks to Bob N4PSK and Jim WB2REM, and others, for all their time and help over the last few days.

Fortunately, 'Nereida' sailed on serenely and smoothly, under full sail and bright sunshine, in very settled wind conditions so I was able to concentrate fully on the job in hand with only very occasional course adjustments needed due to wind shifts.

Cutting a very long story short:

We got together on 21234 kHz yesterday - excellent propagation from my position, 500 miles NNE of Pitcairn, to Jim's shack in Florida. Bob used Jim's antenna remotely while Gene used his own. Excellent copy for a long time, from when we started our session at 1pm PST (=2100 GMT). I checked voltages everywhere, having spent some time removing the charge controller, to access its terminals, the night before.

I was really delighted when I saw that the disconnected panels showed around 20V on both lines where they come into the fuse holder - it showed my efforts on a bouncy aft deck, replacing corroded connectors over the last few days, had been worthwhile!

With the panels working , the voltage at the controller was way down - showing a resistance somewhere that shouldn't be there. So I'm now putting the solar power directly into batteries via 15A fuses - the controller is clearly bad... Not as efficient as using a controller but 'beggars caan't be choosers' - it will give me some input as opposed to nothing!

In theory, this could overcharge the batteries if they are full and the panels keep feeding power. But that is not likely, given that the usage is at least as much as the input. Also, I always keep an eye on my battery voltage - the Mastervolt display is right by me at the chart table. So if needed, I can always go to the aft cabin and quickly remove the in-line fuses.

After we'd come to this conclusion, it took me quite a time to complete the necessary wiring changes - TG I have a big assortment of fuses and electrical spares and tools on board! I was tidying up, finally, around sunset - and decided to reward myself with a small (very dilute!) G&T with some cashews... Sitting out on deck, for the first time yesterday, in the refreshing breeze, sipping my sundowner as 'Nereida" sailed smoothly along in the deep blue ocean, was very enjoyable.

I'm feeling much better now that I know for sure my panels are working - but I've still a niggling query on the negative leads in the circuit. Hopefully, I'll be seeing the benefit of the work of the last few days very soon - at present, I'm seeing no noticeable increase in battery voltage, despite bright sunlight - so we're not quite 'home and dry'! I'll discuss that with Bob later today during our radio 'sched'.

Beautiful sailing at present ... The best!

1900 GMT (=1100PST) - end of Day 41. We made 143 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1900 GMT position.

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

TIME: 2018/11/13 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 19-52.14S LONGITUDE: 126-41.54W COURSE: 172T SPEED: 6.1kt

WIND_SPEED: 12kt WIND_DIR: ENE SWELL_DIR: NE SWELL_HT: 2.5m

CLOUDS: 70% BARO: 1019.3hPa TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 32.0C

COMMENT: Lovely smooth sailing under full canvas. Scattered cloud. 143ml DMG

Sunday

Wind was very much lighter for most of the day - around 10kt. So boat speed was well down as a consequence.

I was busy with various jobs on board and it was pleasant to have the relatively calm conditions to get on with them. Although the NNE swell was very pronounced, at 2.5-3m/10ft, it wasn't too close together and that makes a big difference.

With our speed having come down a lot, I was forced to release the first reef finally, in the middle of getting other things done but, before doing so, I needed a better way to secure the reef cringle to the boom when the first reef was tied in, so as to ease the load on the reefing line. Using a Spectra line wasn't too bad when tying it in but removing it was proving difficult - and both took quite a time. I needed a method using a shackle instead of tying knots. I already had a very sturdy piece of reinforced webbing, used previously for just the same job, and had some Spectra climbing loops, so I finally came up with a far simpler system, using a strong snap shackle, ready for next time.

Once we were sailing nicely again, albeit at only 4-5 knots in the light wind, I realised the sun was not so strong, the sky being fairly overcast. So I went to the foredeck and sat beside the staysail with some whipping twine, and slightly thicker line to cover it, to wrap around the staysail foot shackle. I'd wired that to keep it from coming open - as it had done soon after we'd started off. I wanted to prevent the exposed end of the wire from becoming a hazard - to the lazy genoa sheet, in particular, which normally curls around the staysail foot when in use. It was very pleasant on the foredaeck in the breeze and good to enjoy the sea air and relax for a while befoe getting back to work.

I had a long discussion with Bob, N4PSK, over the radio, about my various options for trying to get the solar panels working - or at least find where the fault lay. By the time we'd finished our discussion, he felt pretty sure the fault was possibly in the charge controller, not necessarily at the solar panels themselves. I was pleased in a way, because I'd been having a major problem in trying to figure out how to open the box behind the panels - and what problems I might cause in so doing...

By the end of the day, I was wrestling with the last screw in the charge controller's fascia panel - tucked right away in a corner and not wanting to budge - and with a very unhelpful damaged head! Long-nosed pliers to the rescue - but what a long time it took...

Bedtime - "tomorrow's another day" - looks as though I'll be removing all the terminals carefully and cleaning them - fingers crossed... that might solve the problem.

Mon 5:30am Up at first light - sun not far from rising. Too early to see if solar problem was resolved, so back for more sleep....

7:30am Up again- very disappointed to see no red light on solar regulator display - but then realised I'd left fuses out overnight... No change - still not working... except once or twice it blinked on for a bit.... Teasing me!

I set to, removing and cleaning all the terminal connectors on the regulator. Also, because the red light had blinked on when I touched a switch in the system, I made up a 'jumper' cable to replace the switch which looked bright and shiny - but maybe it was faulty? One less item to think about was my reasoning.

10:30am I stopped work to get breakfast, with no solar input still - I was parched! And then, suddenly it was time for my daily news and position report... I quickly did the necessary - but didn't get to finish writing this report.... So it's being posted rather late in the day... Fortunately, conditions were easy and 'Nereida' sailed herself with Fred at the helm, aided by my occasional intervention to make course changes needed after wind shifts...

1900 GMT (=1100 PST) - end of Day 40. We made 128 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1900 GMT position - despite mainly gentle winds...

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

TIME: 2018/11/12 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 17-31.17S LONGITUDE: 127-04.12W COURSE: 172T SPEED: 6.1kt
WIND_SPEED: 11kt WIND_DIR: ENE SWELL_DIR: NE SWELL_HT: 2.0m
CLOUDS: 40% BARO: 1017.8hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 32.0C
COMMENT: Bright, sunny.Working solidly on solar power issue

Sat 11:50a.m. PST As soon as my daily news, position report and weather were posted, I was ready to get on deck to the port-side solar panel's +ve connector, the plan being to replace the crimped butt connector with a screw-on connector and hope to restore input to the batteries...

12 midday The solar input just clicked off..... so back to nothing coming in... WHY?? I hate erratic faults.....

12:05p.m. Wind is gusting up - 17-18kt - think I'll tie in 1st reef before getting on with working on solar panel connectors.

1:30pm Took a time to tie in first reef - a few complications - including tying in of extra 'safety' line from reef cringle to the boom with some Spectra line I'm using... Wind now 18-20 knots - time for second reef if I'm to get to the solar panels job... Need to know boat is OK if I'm to be able to concentrate on that job... We're frequently making well over 7 knots at present.

Wind generator putting in some power - quite overcast now but line of clear blue over horizon ahead.

2:15pm Second reef tied in. Getting back to the aft deck to deal with port-hand solar panel +ve connector. Seas up a bit but not too much, I hope. Making ~6.3kt in NNE 18kt wind.

Later: It did get quite rolly in 18-20 kt wind that came up for several hours. More hanging on to the backstay for support while I worked on all four connectors. The port-side panel's +ve connector I changed completely - wire on one side came straight out of the butt connector - it had not been crimped properly - now well-secured with a screw-type connector instead. All four are now feeling very secure (can't pull them apart!) and showing continuity on testing across the wires at each end. Despite that, there was no input to the batteries via the regulator. Checking the voltage at the fuses did not give the expected 18V I was told I would find if panels were giving the expected output to that point. Thinking I'll need to somehow open the terminal box on the back of each panel to check for corrosion inside there - can't explain the erratic behaviour any other way... Possibly the (untinned) copper wire used there is corroded or their connections inside the box are. Feeling very frustrated that all my efforts are not giving a successful outcome. Not helped by, unexpectedly, near sunset, seeing the regulator's red light come on with a minimal input showing.... What/why/how??? I'll be looking tomorrow morning to see what happens as the sun rises higher.

A shackle pin was spotted lying on the side deck while reefing - normally bad news .... but luckily, I found the shackle not far away - and it wasn't in use just now, so didn't cause any problem - unusual!!.

8:30 pm Wind has died right down again, to ~11kt, and has backed into the NNE - had to adjust Fred for a very broad reach to maintain our S course. Released the second reef earlier but leaving the first reef in overnight as a precaution.

9pm RAIN! First for a few days... Wind veered to ENE but then backed to NNE again - didn't last long. Still 11 kt windspeed.

10.25pm Been busy studying weather info. Looks as though we should head slightly E of S for several days, to avoid calms and/or headwinds and keep in favourable, although light, winds.

Sun 8.30am No tiny red light has come on to show solar power coming in to batteries.... Not a great surorise, but would have been nice to see! Still wonder why it came on briefly late yesterday afternoon. Wondering about turning off instruments for periods of time, to reduce battery usage - it's certainly an option, in settled conditions. Keeping an eye on battery voltage. Wind generator can't do much downwind in light air.

Overcast, with thin cloud layer - hazy sun visible, trying to get through. Seems we're under a big swathe of cloud coming from a Low pressure system to the S of us.

10am Heard faint sound of motor - saw light grey vessel 3 miles away, on horizon, off port quarter - disappeared quite soon - naval? Not showing on AIS.

11:15am As I write this, fishing vessel ('Shin Jaan Shin No.66', MMSI: 416003105) is crossing our path E to W at 8kt - seen on AIS & likely to pass about 1/2 mile off in 45mins.

On Friday, I'd re-wired the staysail foot snapshackle in an attempt to prevent it from being snapped open again. Next job will be to cover the area with whipping so the genoa sheet doesn't catch there. Hoping to do that shortly today, but thoughts/emails about solar power problems this morning have been getting in the way. Must get that done now, though - it's too important to delay any further.

Later on, I'll see if I can access the box on the rear of the solar panels - not too clear how to do that but I'll investigate - has to be possible somehow!

1900 GMT (=1100PST) - end of Day39. We made 128 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1900 GMT position - despite work on solar panels...

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

TIME: 2018/11/11 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 15-39.47S LONGITUDE: 127-29.73W COURSE: 171T SPEED: 5.0kt

WIND_SPEED: 12kt WIND_DIR: NNE SWELL_DIR: NNE SWELL_HT: 2.5m

CLOUDS: 100% BARO: 1015.3hPa TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 33.0C

COMMENT: Gentle sailing. Occasional vessel nearby - fishing or naval

Fri 12:30pm The fishing fleet saga continues - I've seen 7 vessels on my AIS screen so far... A fifth ship is 10miles off now. The original three are to W and E of us and another three more are ahead. We're right in the middle of them all - all MMSI numbers etc recorded in my ship's log...

Interestingly, they are clearly keeping well away, as one might expect, and although two were only just over 4 miles away for quite a time, and one later was within 3 miles, I could not see them for all my searching of the horizon with my binoculars! As I head towards them, they invariably turn away to keep out of my path.

There's also been no contact betwween themselves nor me on any VHF channel (I set my radio to 'scan' mode to see if they were talking to each other.... Finally, noise on Ch79... but I can't make out any speech.)

They're not displaying their callsign nor an IMO number and their 'status', which should, I now think, be displayed as 'Fishing' - is shown as 'Not defined' All of them are missing a lot of information in their AIS transmissions.

1.40pm I had thought I'd be working on deck today - but it didn't take long to realise that everything was too hot in the full sun, so I'm waiting for the foredeck to be shaded by the genoa so I can look at the staysail furler. The seas are quite a bit calmer but it's all relative - they're actually still running at 2-2.5m/6-8 ft and quite close, with occasional bigger waves arriving.

It's nice to have enough battery power to run a small fan over the chart table - temperature down below is over 31C/88F, so it's feeling very warm.

2:50pm Finished dealing with the staysail furler. It was actually quite pleasant working on the foredeck in the shade of the genoa and in the breeze! Turns out that one of the two locking block tabs had broken off at some point and a small tab on the drum line guide was also damaged - neither, I hope, too critical from the function point of view. All back together and the final screw tightened as well as I can manage to prevent any turning of the drum line guide. Fingers crossed...

Next, I tied in the coiled bitter ends of the halyards to the mast - they've been swinging about madly when heeled over and/or in swell and it will be nice to see them restrained!

Still no sign of the fishing fleet (except noises on VHF79) - if I hadn't seen them on my AIS display, I'd have been totally unaware of their existence!

Next to think about while the wind and therefore the seas are relatively down is the solar panel that's not giving any power input. Means taking off the 'gunge' I'd put around the problem connector - yuck! I think it's likely to be the last one I did - on the negative line - so I hope I get that right - it's going to be a messy job and I'd rather I didn't have to repeat it on the positive line...

4.30pm Just finished chatting to radio friends on HF radio - and noticed NO input from solar panels ... red light was off. Damn!!! Was about to go and try to re-do the second non-working one - and now the 'working' one has gone down... I checked the fuse... Fuses are both fine... Grrr!!!

So it's back to hugging the backstay (as well being tied on to it!) while I try to get at least one panel working. I had intended working on the -ve line to the non-working panel in an effort to get both working, since I was highly suspicious of my efforts on that butt connector whereas I had no good idea about the reason for the other panel suddenly giving up the ghost. I decided to go ahead - having pushed and pulled on all four connectors in case one gave way immediately ... no, that didn't wwrk out. Nor did it fix the problem - still no output from either....

So I tackled the suspect -ve connector - sure enough it wasn't crimped properly on one side and the wire came out almost immediately after removing the 'gunge' around it so I could get into it. I tried re-crimping it - no go... So on to plan B - a screw-in connector - no crimping needed... and a solid connection.

Some time later, I went down below to replace its fuse in the holder ... Would I see a red light when I came back into the main cabin where the regulator display sits beside the chart table .... YES!!!!! What a relief!! At least we're back to one panel working...

I went on top and replaced the black mastic gunge around the connector and then wrapped it all in insulating tape to protect the gunge. Sun was setting.... I'll look at the other panel's connectors tomorrow, if it's calm enough. I'm definitely celebrating tonight!!

6:30pm Time for food and then PacSeaNet check in....

Sat 9.40 a.m. Around sunrise, at 7am, I was disappointed to see no solar input - I thought the solar panel I fixed last night had gone down again. I was all prepared to look at the connection I made last night... But, by 8am, I realised we had some input - it had been too early in the day for the sun's rays to reach the panels effectively. Good news, in a way.

The wind is very light (10-11 kt) and the sea swell is fairly small, so conditions not too bad. Must cover myself up against the sun when busy with any deck work, though.

On futher investigating the solar inoput, I was very puzzled and decided I needed to confirm my understanding as to which fuse related to which panel since we seemed to have input from the starboard one and nothing from the port one I 'fixed' y'day and which gave power for a time then ...

All that took a long time, including covering the stbd panel with a well-tied towel to confirm input I'd been seeing was from that panel only. My assumptions were correct - so now I'll re-make the live connector on the port panel and hope to get it working again... I'm still puzzled by the stbd panel suddenly coming 'alive' - maybe my jiggling of the connectors last evening did some good? But that's bad news for down the line since that implies it could easily come loose again...

Coffee ... and then I'll put on my long-sleeved top and harness and get to work. TG it's very gentle sailing just now...

10.45am All set to go on deck - bag packed with every likely item/tool I might need, harness at the ready, specs cleaned (!), I've just cut off a single connector from the block they come as part of. Double-checked I'd not forgotten anything - cutters, sand paper, extra 'gunge', cable ties - and then realised it was getting close to my daily position recording and reporting... and posting this.

Wind has increased slightly to around 12-13kt, occasionally 14-15kt, from the earlier 10-11kt - and we're on a broad reach, heading S, as usual, with wind from NE. All very pleasant, under a slightly cloudy sky, with plenty of sun getting out. Solar input from the stbd panel is 4.5-5A - seems slightly down on what I'd expect, this close to midday, but it is rather hazy away from a cloud, so maybe it's as expected... At midday, in Mexico, total input would be regularly around 16A from the two panels.

1100 PST (=1900GMT) - end of Day38. We made 121 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1100 PST position, despite gentle sailing.. Full canvas overnight, and up to now, in the lighter wind then. Sail trimming, as usual, for our present broad reach, gave increased speed!

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after 1100 PST (= 1900 GMT):

TIME: 2018/11/10 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 13-33.14S LONGITUDE: 127-50.06W COURSE: 180T SPEED: 5.8kt
WIND_SPEED: 13kt WIND_DIR: NE SWELL_DIR: ENE SWELL_HT: 2.0m
CLOUDS: 20% BARO: 1013.9hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 33.0C
COMMENT: Bright, sunny some cloud.. Working on solar panels

Thurs A lovely day's sail - bright sun, scattered clouds, wind and seas down a bit, although still the odd bigger wave to keep me on my toes... and wind strong enough, at 14-16kt, to keep us going at 5-6 kt. Having to keep an eye on the wind direction and our resulting course - still aiming for due S overall since that looks to give us least chance of ending up in very light winds or even headwinds in a few days' time. Wind is being very helpful in being mainly from N of E, so we're not too close-hauled but still doing OK.

5pm Feeling really pleased - decided conditions were light enough to release staysail halyard tension, as a result of which it was really easy to attach the foot of the sail to the shackle there. I'm 'mousing' the ring on the snapshackle pin with wire in a way that I hope will prevent it from being pulled open - I don't want to find the foot of the sail having been released again sometime in the future... I use the staysail almost all the time in the strong conditions of the Southern Ocean - it's a small sail with its centre of effort low down and close to the mast - perfect in strong conditions to reduce heeling compared with using a reefed-down genoa (a big headsail, set much further forward and with centre of effort higher up - especially when reduced).

Sunset not too far away so thinking about my evening meal. Having had the rest of last night' stew at lunch-time, I'll explore some well-ripened Saltspring goat's cheese and crackers.... maybe with some olives left over from my Equator-crossing party!

Stayed up rather late and had a good radio session on 40m with Mike, K6MYC, in California and several other contacts who came by - from Vancouver (B.C.) to Charlotte to Salt Lake City to the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean. Turned out to be quite a good thing since the wind had backed quite a lot, from E to ENE, by the time I'd finished and I was able to adjust Fred to give a better course.

Fri 7.20am Interesting how, as the sun rises soon after sunrise, propagation goes way down on the HF radio 40m band, not helped by increased major static noise on frequency. The band was so much clearer last night. Made contact with Oregon, Alberta and Tasmania.

We're continuing to make good speed, with one reef in the main and full genoa, at over 6.5kt in wind of 15 kt from ENE in bright sunshine with 75% scattered cloud cover.

Time for breakfast...

11.20am Getting ready to post my position and news .-update - spotted two ships ten miles off on my AIS screen - headed away - glad I've my AIS on transmit! Both with weird MMSI numbers (111111650 (GS006009) and 111111651 (GS006010)) - most odd!! Naval vessels, maybe? One hardly moving: 0.2kt - surely fishing?? The other only making 3kt. Both not expected to get closer than 10 miles.

1100 PST (=1900GMT) - end of Day37. We made 140 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1100 PST position. Helped by consistent good wind and making a fairly straight course due S. Boat speed has been averaging well over 6kt but there seems to be a definite current heading W slowing us a little - the Equatorial Current, I presume.

Another ship just showed up 10 miles off - MMSI 111111639 (GS006008) - looks to be fishing - SOG 1.3k.

11.40am All now headed very slowly S or SSW, 6 miles away. We might catch two of them up and get to within 3 miles - unless they change their course, yet again. Will keep an eye out - hope they've seen our AIS signal to avoid us! Fishing seems the most likely scenario.... Interestingly, they're just outside the French Polynesia Fishery Zone - Chinese/Japanese fishing boats? Clearly in the same fleet but we're 600-700 miles East of Polynesia just now.

1155am - A fourth one just appeared - over 12 miles away - MMSI 1111112293 - also clearly in same fleet.

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after 1100 PST (= 1900 GMT):

TIME: 2018/11/09 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 11-31.97S LONGITUDE: 127-52.60W COURSE: 178T SPEED: 6.6kt

WIND_SPEED: 14kt WIND_DIR: 055T SWELL_DIR: ESE SWELL_HT: 2.5m

BARO: 1013.1hPa TREND: 0 CLOUD: 5% AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 33.0C

COMMENT: Bright, hot, nearly cloudless sky.

(Note to my Canadian friends - just did an interview with Chek TV News - should be going out today and will be on their website if you miss it.)

Wed Just enjoyed a beef stew with sweetcorn and fresh potato - some over for tomorrow. Had it ready just after sunset but then got involved with deck work - so it had to wait a couple of hours.

Early this afternoon I couldn't find a cloud anywhere - just a vivid blue sky, with lighter wind than usual and gentler seas - I felt obliged to shake out the second reef - no excuses!
The problem later was that I went to shake out the first reef and realised that I needed to work first on re-running the reefing line and I also needed to remove the extra line I'd put in place as a precaution after the first reef line had snapped a few days ago. But there was too much tension in the system - I had to drop the main to the second reef and tie it back in, so as to be able to work on the first reef...

Several hours later, in between adjust?ing Fred several times so as to keep our course roughly due S. I'd finally managed to undo all my knots in the first reef line and extra line, in the 'nettles' on the sail and in the extra line tied in around the mast (easing tension on the sail slide above the first reef luff point).

I'd also sorted out tying in the first reef line correctly and had finally raised the main fully, not long afterwards dropping it again to re-tie in the first reef...! We'd begun to heel a lot under full canvas and having the first reef in helped keep the boat rather more upright, so she sailed better and felt a lot more comfortable and it didn't seem to have reduced our speed noticeably.

I've lost count of the number of trips to the mast I made this afternoon! I'd been hoping that the lighter wind and smaller seas earlier would continue to abate - giving me the chance to work on the staysail - and maybe even have another go at the second solar panel connector - but the wind got up again - presently, it's back at 16kt or more, still from ENE.

Everything I touch on deck has a layer of sticky, sometimes crystalline, salt.

Not too surprisingly, I missed a radio 'sched' set for soon after the Paciic Seafarers' Net this evening - I was busy adjusting Fred again and tidying up the lines on deck... It all takes a time - especially moving about - a good handhold needed before the next step is taken, to avoid lurching across the cabin or cockpit as a wave throws us around..

I'm behind on emails and my logbook has run out of the columns I need for my log entries - I have to rule them myself for all the different data I make a note of in each log entry.

Thurs 8am PST 750 miles due East of the Marquesas - Nuku Hiva, to be exact. Just over 900 ml north of Pitcairn & Henderson Islands - about one week away.
Just finished checking emails/weather and chatting on HF radio - good propagation soon after sunrise but a lot of static on frequency giving a high noise level which increases as the sun rises higher.
Time for breakfast - not too bumpy so will make some coffee. I'll dig out some more fruit juices as well - like to start my day with some juice. We're sailing more gently now - wind is due E at ~15kt and we're making ~6.4kt. A few white clouds around.

1100 PST (=1900GMT) - end of Day36. We made 141 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1100 PST position. Always gives a better result if sailing in roughly a straight line!

Increasing cloud around - one or two typical long, grey ones (photo?) - give them some more time and they'll probably drop a shower or two later...

We're due East of the Marquesas - 650 ml from Hiva Oa - could be there within 5 days!

Enjoying a coffee as I catch up on emails and get ready to post this.

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after 1100 PST (= 1900 GMT):

TIME: 2018/11/08 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 09-12.42S LONGITUDE: 127-55.89W COURSE: 180T SPEED: 6.0kt
WIND_SPEED: 14kt WIND_DIR: E SWELL_DIR: ESE SWELL_HT: 2.5m
BARO: 1014.2hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 33.0C
COMMENT: Gentle sailing in bright sun, scattered clouds, mostly white.

Tues 5pm Another rain squall lies off to starboard affecting us... I was busy studying what weather information is available as we head further S towards Cape Horn and on... After the earlier strong squall, I was not feeling too inclined to shake out the 2nd reef I'd tied in, even though the wind came back down to around 12-15kt (from 25kt) for quite a time. We were clearly in an area of squally conditions and I felt it best to be cautious.

Our speed has been 4.5 kt at times, even with full genoa. Then the wind dropped right down and the boom started crashing around in the still quite good-sized swell - 3m/10ft - but with too little wind to fill the mainsail. Suddenly, we were drifting W at 1-2 kt - hove-to on starboard tack with the genoa backed....

I got us sailing again, still with the dark grey mass of raincloud off to starboard and the wind increased rapidly. We sailed alongside the cloud at speed and slowly the wind eased a little - to its present 16-18kt. The seas are quite lumpy and make for an uncomfortable ride upwind. But we're making 6kt on our preferred course, just E of S. ... until the next raincloud comes close! Typical of the Tropics.

The 2nd reef will stay in until I'm convinced there are no more rain squalls in the offing and I need to shake it out! In fact, at 6pm, nearing sunset, with plenty of grey clouds around still, I decided to furl in some genoa - full sail overnight might not be a good idea - so, erring on the side of caution again - never mind if it slows us down a bit - we're actually still making nearly 6kt in 17kt wind from NE-ENE.

Preparing food... onion and potato omelette. I missed starting it well before sunset and the Pacific Seafarers Net, which is very soon after, so I ended up cooking by headlamp!

Wed Well, we did have a squall come by overnight - so my caution was justified! Wind and seas have been very consistent - wind fom 060T, so between NE and ENE, and seas from ENE at 3m/10ft. A lot of motion all the time. Carrying full genoa.

Been busy exploring weather information again - a matter of requesting files to see what turns up - they don't always give what they seem to indicate. Saildocs is an excellent resource - I can request almost any file on the Internet so long as I have its correct URL - but, clearly, I can't follow any links given within it. So I'm looking at weather information available from French Polynesia, Australia and New Zealand for when I lose that available from NOAA (U.S.), which only goes down to 20S.

1100 PST (=1900GMT) - end of Day35. We made 124 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1100 PST position. Not bad considering we've had several squalls and been reefed down ... but in good wind.

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after 1100 PST (= 1900 GMT):

TIME: 2018/11/07 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 06-52.12S LONGITUDE: 127-49.74W COURSE: 174T SPEED: 7.0kt
WIND_SPEED: 17kt WIND_DIR: 060T SWELL_DIR: ENE SWELL_HT: 3.0m
CLOUDS: 10% BARO: 1013.8hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 26.0C SEA_TEMP: 32.0C
COMMENT: Bright sunny day - no squalls in sight!

Mon 5th Nov - Guy Fawkes in UK - I've one small sparkler I seem to have acquired which I was going to light tonight - but I think I'll leave it to celebrate seeing in the New Year - by then, we should be well past Cape Horn so that would really be something to celebrate!

4pm YAY!!! I've got all the instruments back working again! Excellent! Something else to celebrate... Maybe something later with my meal... I could not find a way to remove the plastic cover on the corroded spade terminal on the circuit-breaker, no matter how I tackled it ... so, in the end, I cut it partly so it could be pulled off but replaced later. The terminal is now looking shiny bright and I've coated it with a protective water-proof layer - did the negative terminal as well, while I was at it. Fingers crossed, it will now continue to behave fine... The wind display is working with everything else. I'm feeling really happy just now - despite the grey cloud overhead!

We were ambling along in a dying wind, after having been gradually slowing down since morning, from the 7-8kt boat speed we had then to more like 6-7kt and then, a short while ago, around 5kt. But we've suddenly picked up speed again - instead of a few small clouds in the sky, there's a very big grey raincloud ahead - giving us wind... Seas were becoming less enough for me to consider going on deck to begin to look at the staysail - several things of concern there - but not now - it's become quite 'bouncy' again.

Instead, I've been busily putting the three missing 1900GMT waypoints into the newly-reborn plotter - no more calculations will be needed now for distance made good (DMG) over each 24hr period!

Later: Wind has eased from 18kt to 16kt - we're making around 6kt due S and it feels a lot gentler. Waiting to see whether to unfurl the genoa some more - "Have a cup of tea," as one sailing instructor would always say....

Tues 0300Z (=1900PST Mon) Pacific Seafarers' Net Control (W6WAR in the USA) had big problem copying boats on the roll-call. Propagation just not good enough - contact was just too light for reports to be heard clearly enough. I chatted to Cliff on 'Sedna', headed to Opua, N.Z. from Minerva Reef, and also to Mark on 'Maverick' headed East across S. Pacific - both OK, Mark with strong winds at 45S, as usual. Couldn't quite copy what communication problem he said he had but SSB/HF radio is clearly working fine.

Soon after, chatted to several radio contacts in USA on 40m with good propagation - far better than on 20m.

Heading slightly E of due S now - want to get E of Pitcairn and Henderson Islands which are almost due S at present. To NW of Pitcairn are the Tuamotus and Gambiers - an area of reefs and coral atolls - definitely best to give them a big clearance!

Overnight, it was a very bumpy, dark night - so much so that I went on deck just before dawn (see photo) to head us more off the wind. Instantly, it felt far more comfortable as well as our speed picking up nicely!

1100 PST (=1900GMT) - end of Day34. We made 139 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1100 PST position. I now see I mis-calculated the DMG for yesterday's report - it should have been 160 n.ml - a very good 24hr run over Day33! Wind has just gusted up - raincloud ahead... Was about to post this - but had to get on deck in a hurry to take in a second reef in 25kt wind...and rain. Just towelling down after getting rather wet... I'd been thinking it would be quite nice to take a deck shower soon - but not just now... Wind has eased now to 16kt - rainsquall didn't last long... Sky is brightening...
I'll post this, get a dry top and tidy up lines in cockpit...and maybe get some lunch. Will probably have to shake out that reef I just tied in...

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after 1100 PST (= 1900 GMT):

TIME: 2018/11/06 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 04-49.48S LONGITUDE: 128-05.77W COURSE: 170T SPEED: 6.5kt
WIND_SPEED: 16kt WIND_DIR: NE SWELL_DIR: ENE SWELL_HT: 3.5m
BARO: 1010.8hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 27.0C SEA_TEMP: 33.0C
COMMENT: Fair-sized swell, but good speed. Grey clouds overhead -showers.

Happy Guy Fawkes night to my UK friends!

And greetings to the friends at RVYC (and elsewhere) who I hear had a small celebration of my Equator-crossing last night!

Sun 3pm I didn't do much after crossing the Equator at 12:12pm PST, other than sit out in the shade in the cockpit and enjoy my situation - how many other peple are so lucky as to be sailing across the Equator at good speed in good winds and in such settled, bright, sunny conditions? I managed a lot of singing and even some dancing to the music I played during my Equator-crossing party time - useful to have a sturdy pole to hang onto while moving to the music down below when the boat is well heeled and bouncing around in the swell!

Having had so many boat problems to deal with since leaving Victoria, I felt that a little down time and relaxation wouldn't go amiss. I'm still looking at blank Speed, Depth, Wind displays in the cockpit .... (pause while I sing to 'Tom Dooley" "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" and "It Takes A Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song"!) ... and a blank chart plotter and Multi display down below. But, to be honest, so long as you know you're headed roughly S, weather is looking pretty settled and there's nothing in the way for a big distance, that's not a major problem! If I needed to, I could get out my sextant and play with that (latitude is really easy to find if the midday sun is out) but I actually have a GPS position from my AIS display and easily-accessible paper charts tucked away. It's good to have installed an independent GPS input to the AIS, separate from my other instruments (since they have now gone down!), and it's nice to know that the big ships (over 300 tons) can see our signal - not that I come across many ships, normally none, once we're this far S.

I also wanted to send a big "Thank you" to so many good friends who have given me their friendship and support over the last several years - again, I feel very lucky to have got to know so many lovely people. Makes a big contrast to hearing the daily news.... which I'm happy not to get while out here at sea!

My musical afternoon continues ... with classical guitar - lovely! Maybe later I'll look again at the instrmumentation problem - would be nice not to see all those blank screens but it's not so simple to resolve... I must dig out those paper charts for the Pacific... Tea-time...

6.15pm PST Sun is setting - we're still making good speed, over 6kt, under a partly (40%) cloudy sky - lots of slightly grey cumulus, lined up along the wind direction. Since we're heading S, on a close reach, i'm deducing that the wind direction is roughly ESE. Going up on deck, to get a more accurate direction while I can still see the tiny wind ripples on the sea surface, I just confirmed that - the wind is coming from exactly ESE, as is the swell.

I'm very happy with the state of the batteries - on one solar panel and the Superwind, it's actually over 13V! It's helped somewhat by the fact that so few instruments are in use and we're on wind-steering (Fred, the Hydrovane), of course...

Getting ready for my evening check in to Pacific Seafarers' Net - along with Mark on 'Maverick' and Uku on 'All in One', both in GGR. I'm first on the roll call and they're second and third respectively - a matter of who joined the roll call when...

Mon 3am Talking to Bob, N4PSK, on 7163kHz, about how to go about removal of plastic cover on spade terminal on the circuit breaker that keeps 'popping' - useful ... Will try later, in daylight - want to clean up the terminal as much as possible.
Checking out my (expired) Navionics charts on my iPad - have good coverage in a few places and can get GPS info into them from a bluetooth dongle, so hoping to manage displaying our track along with a decent COG readout - that would be useful to see since it's usually quite different from our boat heading. Otherwise, I'll be plotting positions onto a paper chart to deduce rough track and COG - always a back-up possibility.

Went on deck to adjust Fred - want to keep heading just E of S from here. Expect to pass not far from Pitcairn Island in just under two weeks' time.

9.50am PST Bright sunshine, a few small clouds. Just spent quite a time adjusting Fred, with the wind more in the East, and furling in a touch more genoa - we've been heeling quite a lot. We're making very good speed - around 7.5kt, often over 8kt. Wind must be well up - we're in the SE Trades!

Batteries are now up to 14V and solar panel regulator display light frequently 'blinks', showing it thinks the batteries are full - excellent!

Time for a late breakfast with fruit juice and then some coffee... Needing plenty of liquids. Then it's down to looking at the instrument problem... Photo shows the terminal giving a problem - but that might be one of many!

1100 PST (=1900GMT) - end of Day33. We made 152 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's 1100PST position. (00 08.64N -> 02 31.67S, 128 29.80W -> 128 23.71W) - really needs almost no calculating since heading is almost due S! We've been making excellent speed, although pretty rough at times....

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after 1100 PST (= 1900 GMT):

TIME: 2018/11/05 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 02-31.67S LONGITUDE: 128-23.71W COURSE: 180T SPEED: 7.4kt
WIND_SPEED: 15kt WIND_DIR: E SWELL_DIR: E SWELL_HT: 3.0m
BARO: 1011.5hPa TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 35.0C
COMMENT: Bright sun, scattered clouds. Good sailing.

Sat 1.30pm Posted daily blog and position/weather reports - seas feeling a bit less so will try solar panel connector renewal again (just -ve lines left to do plus tidying up with cable ties after protecting the waterproofing 'gunge' with amalgamating tape wrapped tightly around. Still seeing over 6A input from stbd panel.

3.50pm Oh well - my efforts are proving half successful - it's a pity I'd started on removing the -ve connector on the port side panel because, at one point, after changing its fuse position within the fuse holder, I did see a small input (having already renewed its +ve connector) - but having finished the job of renewing the -ve connector, there's now nothing coming in... Very disappointing! One of the +ve connectors had to be re-done - it came apart - clearly not crimped tightly enough (I think that was on the starboard side) - so maybe the port side -ve one wasn't well-enough crimped either - I didn't check output before 'gunging up' the -ve connections once they were crimped - they'd seemed tight enough . Things were definitely getting a bit 'bouncy' at the stern by that point in time....

On to the instrument failure problem... but over a cup of tea, I think. Funny how smooth and quiet it seems down below whereas on deck, in the wind, it feels as though there's that much more motion. Maybe the wind is up and down... Nice to get out of my harness and long-sleeved sun protection.

Sun 4.30am PST (clocks changed in N.America overnight) - lovely crescent moon showing well above E horizon. We're heading due S (so far as I can tell!) towards the Equator - less than 45 miles away now. Party coming up - come and join us! Waiting for daylight to continue working on instrument problems - and maybe the staysail as well...

8.30am Well, it feels like 9.30 am, of course! I was surprised to find that the seas were up more than I expected, when I awoke at dawn. I'm so pleased I got to the solar panels yesterday when I did, in rather less bumpy conditions. Without my chart plotter and other instruments, it's not so easy to be sure of the course we're making - usually different from our heading, of course, so checking the compass direction that the bow is pointing in doesn't give an accurate result.

I managed to make some coffee, despite the seas, although it meant standing over the pot as it came through and then very quickly pouring it out before it spilled everywhere. Once I've finished breakfast, I'll have another try at getting some instruments working.... That's one bonus in being out on the ocean, well away from land - plenty of sea room and nothing to hit!

Thought I'd delay posting this until I was across 'the Line'
Time of crossing: 2022 GMT (12:22pm local time/PST) Sunday 4th November Photos show the time of actual transit (on my AIS display) and the 'line' of the Equator receding astern of us!
Party time! Appetisers and drinks had been made ready - Neptune will receive his 'tipple' and a request for safe onward passage...

1100 PST (=1900GMT) - end of Day32. We made 124 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's noon position. (02 08.66 -> 00 08.64 N and 128 00.26 -> 128 29.80W) Pythagoras is working well, this close to the Equator - and a lot simpler...!!!

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

TIME: 2018/11/04 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 00-08.64N LONGITUDE: 128-29.80W COURSE: 182T SPEED: 6.2kt
WIND_SPEED: 14kt WIND_DIR: ESE SWELL_DIR: ESE SWELL_HT: 2.0m
BARO: 1013.5hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 27.0C SEA_TEMP: 35.0C
COMMENT: Bright sunshine - 8miles from Equator... Still instrument problems

Fri 4pm I'm feeling so very much happier - and positive - than a couple of hours ago! I often get emails (via my website) from people trying to give useful suggestions for overcoming problems on board. Most times, they give me info I already have or suggestions I don't need, having already thought of possible solutions anyway, but occasionally they prove useful.

I was looking over my emails this morning and, I have to say, I've not been feeling too positive the last day or so - especially with the wind display going down and then the second solar panel's input disappearing this morning - almost the last straw, that was!

One email about my wind display, referring to a similar system to mine, mentioned "... wind instrument might just require a "reset"...". It occurred to me that the ST60+ instruments that I have only differ from the ST60 in that they can be individually switched off - so why not do just that? In effect, 'rebooting' the instrument... I went up on deck, hopeful.... Sure enough, on switching the display back on - there were the readings I'd been missing - the display is back working fine again ! YIPPEE!!! I'll definitely be celebrating at sunset tonight... (Thanks to Peter from Sechelt!) (Louise - if you're reading this, you'll know how I'll be celebrating!)

Feeling so much more positive had another good effect... Our speed has been way down on what I'd expect but I kept telling myself we were heading upwind and that was the problem. Not so! I just did a bit of overdue sail-trimming - and up went our speed - from 4.2kt to 6.2kt!! We've one reef in and wind is ESE 15kt. Plenty of cloud around now, even a light shower downwind, off to starboard, but none too dark grey - unlike at sunset last night.

The Superwind is still keeping the batteries charged - putting in more than we're using - so that's good. I'm still considering my options on replacing the solar panels' butt connectors. If the seas calm down enough, I might heave to, if necessary, in order to fix the problem - I'm convinced I know what needs to be done!

8.30pm PDT Soon after dark, as I checked into Pacific Seafarers' Net, my plotter/instruments' circuit-breaker 'popped' and all basic instruments (wind/speed/depth), plus plotter with GPS input, went down - blank displays... Re-set the breaker - they went again a short time after and since then nothing comes up - the breaker 'pops' instantly. I wonder if the wind display is faulty and causing this new problem?? Something in the circuit must be causing it. So much for my feeling good and positive....!!

Sat 3.30am PDT Just tried again - no joy... Will get some more sleep and look at the problem again in daylight.... Maybe I'll try taking the wind display out of the circuit and see if things behave better then?

Just asked the guys on 7163 to send me the formula for calculating the Gt Circle distance between two points, although Pythagoras will work this close to the Equator... Sleep....

Woke up at dawn - and soon realised that the motion of the boat was far less than it had been - the seas were down a lot from yesterday - time to try to fix the solar panels problem....

Several good-sized flying fish on deck - we must have gone through a shoal of them overnight.

10.30am Just finished replacing the solar panel +ve wire connectors - a lot of work involved, with my chest harness tied to the backstay and with one arm mostly around the stay to give me stability while reaching up to work on the solar panels above me.

Didn't take me long to realise that the heat shrink method wasn't going to work in the windy conditions.

So on to Plan B - using shorter crimped connectors, covered with a lot of black, sticky, waterproofing mastic. First had to remove several cable ties holding the wiring in place, then cut away the old connectors and expose fresh wire - the one to the stbd panel was a mess of green powder/corrosion - dealt with that first. That panel is now working OK (YEAH!!) but its -ve wire connector needs attention badly also.

Moved on to the port side solar panel +ve line connector - didn't look anything like as bad as the other one but changed it anyway. Wasn't too surprised, although disappointed, of course, to find that made no difference - still getting no power input.

By now, conditions were getting very 'bumpy' with increased wind so, although I started on removing the port side panel's -ve line connector, I decided I was not feeling safe enough to continue. So neither -ve wire connectors have yet been renewed. The stbd one is looking very corroded indeed (I'm surprised it's giving any power at all), so fingers crossed that it holds out until I get to it next time the seas are calmer. Just now, that panel is putting in ~6A. I'm hoping that changing out the -ve connectors will not only improve the starboard panel's performance but also give power from the port side panel, although, again, that connector is not looking anything like as bad as the starboard one.

I'll have some breakfast and then have a look at the instrument circuit problem - unchanged from earlier, with circuit breaker 'popping' instantly if I try to switch on - so no plotter/chart, position, track, speed or SOG, course or COG, wind, sea temp, etc, etc. I'll try to remove the wind display's connection to the rest of the Seatalk circuit to test if it's causing the problem - not too difficult once I access the back of the display - hopefully, seas won't be too bad..

We're making way roughly S-SSW at ~6kt in F3-4 from ESE. (I'm changing to the Beaufort scale for wind strength from now on - any wind speed I give will be a 'guesstimate'...) The AIS has an independent GPS input and is giving me position, COG and SOG - the only problem being it 'jumps about' a lot, so deducing actual speed & course readings is difficult.

1200 PDT (=1900GMT) - end of Day31. We made ? n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's noon position. Presently, don't know distance - with no plotter, it has to be calculated... Goes like this:

Square root of [(60.26-12.40)squared + (132.65-8.66)squared] = sq root of 17884.0997 = 134 to nearest integer.

According to my calculations, that gives a DMG of 134n.ml. which sounds about right, give our good speed most of the time.

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

TIME:2018/11/03 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 02-08.66N LONGITUDE: 128-00.26W COURSE: 210T SPEED: 6.2kt

WIND_SPEED: 12kt WIND_DIR: ESE SWELL_DIR: ESE SWELL_HT: 2.0M

BARO: 1014.7 TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 27.0C

COMMENT: Wind display was OK but now instruments keep going down. One solar panel fixed

Thurs 5pm Had a good sleep this afternoon - seem to have needed to make up on my disturbed night's sleep over the last few days.
Quite cloudy conditions just now - mostly grey clouds but not so much heavy rain today. Several patches of clear blue sky and bright sunshine earlier - giving good solar power input for a time. Too much swell running to try to deal with the solar panel problem above the aft deck.

Having to get used to judging wind direction from ripples on the sea surface once again, using the ship's compass - as I had to on my last nonstop sail around the world - and for the same reason - no displayed wind info on the instruments. A real bummer, since it's so useful to have that info instantly available.

Wind is from W of S so we're having to make a course to the SE - I would have preferred due S but that's clearly impossible with no engine allowed!

Time for tea - I'm having to drink a lot of water with air temperature of 26C/79F and 91% humidity.

Dramatic scene at sunset - rain cloud not so far away soon after we'd come around. To avoid heading nearly due E, we tacked around to head more SW, as the wind backed into the S, and then SSE, from SW. We're very close-hauled, and banging into quite short swell, which cuts down our speed, but the mainly southerly wind is preventing us from heading due S as we'd like to.

Fri 11am Things seem to have calmed down quite a bit in the last half hour. Not that we're not still rolling around all over the place... we are - occasionally quite violently. Just that we're no longer crashing/being thrown around all the time, as the boat heels over suddenly with oncoming steep-faced swell close together.

The wind is slowly backing more to the SE from SSE, so our course is also slowly changing more to the S. The overnight rainclouds have all disappeared and we're into an area of bright blue sky - it's getting hot.

Just as I was beginning to think again about trying to fix the solar panel problem, hoping that conditions might calm down some more soon, I was dismayed to see that the light was out on the solar panel regulator display. That meant that now there was no input from either of the solar panels... Went and checked the fuses in the aft cabin - both were still fine.

Very bad news since we've got bright Tropical sunlight and we should be piling in the electrons to the batteries just now!! Earlier in the day, we were putting in a small amount, as expected - I keep an eye constantly on input and state of the batteries. So the second panel has clearly just gone down and I suspect for the same reason - its butt connector near the panels above the aft deck was also looking quite green inside when I checked on them the other day and I was inclined to think I should replace both connectors rather than just the one. Now my suspicions are, I think, confirmed.

It's too rolly still to try to get to them and change out the connectors. Gives me time to decide whether to replace with butt connectors again - but with plenty of extra waterproof 'gunge' protecting them and heat shrink around that - or maybe use another type of connector, again with lots of waterproofing needed to prevent the same problem recurring. I might try the other (screw-type) connector initially anyway just to confirm the problem is due to what I'm thinking - it gives a quick'n'easy test.

Fortunately, because we've been sailing upwind all night, and still doing so, the Superwind has been going well in the apparent wind and has been charging the batteries anyway - I'm seeing up to 14A going in and the battery voltage is nicely up.

So my joblist presently reads:
1)solar panels - no input from either
2)wind display - nada
3)staysail foot shackle and furler - need attaching/re-fixing.
4)reefing reinforcement tie-in (must relieve load on reefing lines when in use)

As someone commented to me yesterday, when chatting on the HF radio, "No room for boredom!"

1200 PDT (=1900GMT) - end of Day30. We made only 66 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's noon position. If we hadn't tacked around overnight, we would have made almost 100 miles DMG... but that's measuring along our actual path sailed to the point where we tacked around, not the straight-line distance between our two noon positions.

With the change of clocks happening over this weekend in N. America, my 24hr DMG measuring will have to relate to 1900GMT (=1100 PST) to stay constant. The ship's clock will adjust to PST (Pacific Standard Time) as my 'local' time. The longitude where we are at the moment puts us still in the 'Pacific' Time Zone for N.America and we'll stay in that for quite a time since I plan to head due S from here for quite a distance - winds permitting!

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

TIME: 2018/11/02 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 04-12.65N LONGITUDE: 127-12.40W COURSE: 198T SPEED: 4.5kt
WIND_SPEED: 8kt WIND_DIR: SE SWELL_DIR: SSE SWELL_HT: 2.5M CLOUDS: 1%
BARO: 1014.4hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 27.0CSEA_TEMP: 35.0C
COMMENT: 2nd solar panel - no input. Need to fix both now. TG for windpower.

Wed 4.15pm Tea-time - it feels so wonderfully gentle and calm jut now, despite occasional quite big swell from the S and a bank of grey clouds ahead. The wind has died back after the last heavy downpour and us rushing along in strong wind and seas. The sun is trying hard to get out through the cloud layer, we're making a good SE course, beam reaching in W wind of 7kt, we've almost reached 6N... I can move about fairly easily, without needing to hold on tightly before taking another step, although I've needed an inboard preventer on the boom to keep it from crashing about in the swell and light wind. I've dealt with emails, looked at weather files, changed into clean, dry clothes and tidied up a bit. Thinking about readying food for tonight... Kettle's on. All's well with my world just now....

Well, tea was made later - but I never got to drinking much of it although, fortunately, I did make an early meal - shrimps and pasta in Alfredo sauce - which I enjoyed... The wind went very light and variable but mainly from the E and it was a struggle to keep the bow pointing SE-ish.

Just before dark, I was playing with the first reef tied in - trying to improve on my tying in of the 'nettles' - they'd not been tight enough last time and eventually, with a really prolonged downpour, the sail had 'bagged', holding a lot of rainwater again... In the very light wind and fair-sized swell, the boom was moving quite a lot, although I was using an inboard preventer to lessen the motion. But the sail kept flogging, despite that, and suddenly, with a particularly big swell passing by, - Bang! .... The first reef line snapped.

It was very fortunate that the end of the line did not disappear inside the boom because I was later able to re-tie the end of the reef line around the boom and through the reef cringle. But first I secured the sail to the boom with a length of Spectra that was to hand to stop it moving about in the wind & swell. Clearly, to prevent such a breakage happening, it's best to tie in the reef separately after reefing down, and then the reef line can be released so it has no stresses on it. I hadn't been doing that, unfortunately. It had been jerked on a lot with the sail flogging in the combination of very light wind & big seas. From now on, the first reef will be tied in separately, after reefing down! I hope the line will survive the rest of the trip. (If not, there's always a plan B!)

It was well dark by the time I'd finished sorting that all out - as a precaution against more heavy rain & squalls overnight, I left the reef tied in - simpler to leave it all safely secured. Overnight, well before dawn, the wind did get up - I furled in some genoa and we seemed to be doing fine.

Thursday morning, to my dismay, I looked over to the instruments from my bunk to find the wind display showing a set of dashes - no dislayed wind information whatsoever... Damn! Before leaving, I'd replaced the mast top transducer and its wire down inside the mast precisely to avoid this problem, which I had for six months during my last nonstop sail around .... It makes sail-handling so much simpler when the display is working. There's a Windex at the mast top, useful for changing tack and sail-trimming - but that only gives apparent wind direction, with no speed info, and you need to be on deck to see it. It's nice to have the display down below when a Cold Front is expected to pass by while in the Southern Ocean - they can occur suddenly and with strong winds - the display can give a useful warning that it's about to happen.

We're back to ambling in light winds again so the motion is generally much less down below. We do seem to have left the area of big rain clouds behind, although there's always the chance of an isolated squall in the Tropics.

I'll try to investigate the wind display and its wiring but.... it has power, nothing else. Not looking good!

1200 PDT - end of Day29. We made 94 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's noon position - result of the very light NW wind early yesterday afternoon, followed by light variable/ E - ESE - SSW winds yesterday evening, veering to SSW overnight. We've been trying to stay on a SE course to avoid the forecast calms to the W.

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

TIME: 2018/11/01 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 05-14.94N LONGITUDE: 126-50.66W COURSE: 122T SPEED: 3.6kt

WIND_SPEED: 8kt WIND_DIR: S SWELL_DIR: S SWELL_HT: 2.0M CLOUDS: 80%

BARO: 1014 TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 27.0C SEA_TEMP: 35.0C

COMMENT: Lost wind display - so 'guesstimates' for wind strength from now on...

The 8.30am (GMT) BBC Radio Solent Wed Breakfast Show chat didn't happen - technical & communication problems!! But will happen at some point soon - they want to keep in touch as I continue around. Nice to have their support.

4.20pm Had a good nap and woke to find we were making excellent speed and course - (COG) SE at (SOG) 6.5kt, wind ~10kt from SW. A big dark raincloud off to starboard could be the reason. There's another one well ahead, off the port bow. Sun showing through the thin cloud overhead. A real mix! Wind veering as I type... Enough sun to put a little solar power into the batteries - 3A.

Ten minutes later - that dark raincloud to starboard (upwind) began to spread over us - wind WSW and increased to 12-14kt.

5pm - had a lot of heavy rain, much lighter now. Wind now WNW at 6kt - adjusted course but will probably need to adjust again when wind shifts the other way... SOG 3kt or less.

5.15pm Drying off! Had to go on deck to put a preventer on the boom which was crashing about in little wind but a good-sized swell (S 3m/10ft). Rain coming down again. Wind NW 6kt One good thing about sailing in the Tropics is that getting wet in a downpour usually involves minimal clothing - so not much to dry off - but my hair's wet again..! Air temperature is 27C/80F, so quite balmy so long as not exposed to the wind in wet clothes. Wind veered now to NNW... where to next??

6.10pm ...It kept veering - to NNE, then NE, but very light It's still drizzling and it definitely gets cold being in that without raingear on... We're drifting SE, wallowing in the swell with no boatspeed and I couldn't even manage to gybe us around - normally not a problem, given patience, but the swell is quite big and knocking us around... I've come back down to dry off & take a break and then I'll go back on deck - but wearing my raingear! ...Wind now is only 3kt and all over the place.. ESE, ENE, NNE... Let's try again... and see if we can at least drift S....

6.45pm Out of raingear and drying off... I thought I'd managed it - seemed much better - but wind is still shifting around all over, between N and ESE, at ~5kt. We gybed around onto port tack and were making almost due S at 0.6kt. Now, I think, we're drifting, hove-to - SE at 1kt. Almost acceptable... Oh well.... c'est la vie... If the wind were to settle down, it would be simple...

7pm Wind is NNE 6kt - try again ...see if we can gybe around again onto port tack. On with the (wet) raingear... Beginning to lose daylight - would be nice to settle the boat before dark....

Tried to gybe around - suddenly, wind totally changed direction and gusted right up - I had to take the genoa over to port - we're on starboard tack now... in WSW wind of ~13kt. Another raincloud effect?? I was glad to have put on a dry, warm jacket this time. Now heading SSE at ~6 kt.

Wed 10.30am A night of alternating dawdling, in almost no wind, with fast speed, mostly 6-7 kt, often over 8 kt, heading SE under a sequence of big rainclouds - the boat is definitely clean now! Seas get up as the wind gets up, so it's been quite rough. At 10am, we'd been drifting in a light NW wind (~7kt), waiting to see what would come next ..... I suddenly noticed we were making 4kt in NW 15kt, with our speed soon up to 6kt in NW 25kt... We were galloping along - but due W... I hastily gybed the genoa and changed course to head the other way, ending up making SE. West is not a preferred course at present - calms lie that way in a day or so, whereas heading SE gives a far better prognosis of keeping some wind.

We're clearly still well inside the extensive area of big clouds shown around here on the satellite photo I downloaded last night. A small Low is to N of our position, giving the NW winds we keep seeing. I hope our overnight speed to SE will have helped our escape from that band of convection. I long for a nice, constant wind direction and strength!!

1200 PDT - end of Day28. We made 110 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's noon position ... better. A measure of strong conditions, giving good speed, mixed with light winds in between. A hint of sun trying to break through the clouds overhead - but plen.ty more grey raincloud ahead

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

TIME: 2018/10/31 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 06-21.93N LONGITUDE: 127-56.02W COURSE: 113T SPEED: 6.5kt

WIND_SPEED: 18kt WIND_DIR: NW SWELL_DIR: S SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 100%

BARO: 1014hPa TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 25.0C SEA_TEMP: 34.0C

COMMENT: Raining - yet again..! Trying to get S away from Low and its mass of cloud

Note: Will be live on BBC Radio Solent Breakfast Show again - Wed morning, soon after 0830GMT. (Can be listened to on Internet. Waiting for confirmation from Studio)

Mon 1.30pm Finished posting of blog and position/weather report. Deck was dry before midday - but now we're in middle of an area of drizzle, ambling at 1.6kt in W-SW wind of 4-5 kt. Fred is doing well at keeping us going! No deck jobs can be done just now - so will be trying to fix galley locker door-hinge...

3:15pm Fingers crossed - hoping the galley door hinge has finally been dealt with. The top screw had found a hole last time - but in the wrong place. So out with that and try again.. What would we do without a headlamp and mirror to see around a corner?? I not only had to wedge myself firmly in place with a swell running but also had to support the door with one leg against the adjacent companionway steps while I tried to fix the problem. Decided the plan should be to move the door to expose both holes and fix the screws into that. That went fine - except now the door would not close - damn! Needed to adjust the hinge... Unscrewed the adjusting screws - just enough but not too much... Couldn't move the hinge part into its correct position... Damn again! Then suddenly, the door moved into position ... Tightened up the adjuster screws - yeah! The door closed properly! Will be closing it very carefully from now on...

3.30pm Another downpour - suddenly felt the boat heeling the wrong way - we're hove-to yet again with the wind having suddenly backed into the E from SSW... Poor Fred was doing so well in the light wind up to now - but that was too sudden a change - backed the genoa with a 10kt big wind shift. The good news is we're actually drifting on an excellent course - SSW!! We'll wait to see what the wind decides to do. When the rain stops, the wind will probably veer again and then we can sort things out sensibly.. Maybe it's time for a cup of tea?

4pm Pressure has dropped to 1010hPa from 1013 4 hrs ago.. Rain has almost stopped. Grey rainclouds covering the sky ... Wind varying: SE, was 7kt, now 10kt. Maybe time to get sailing again. Weather files are showing this could continue for several days more, with light wind preventing escape.... Band of rain down to 4-5N.

4.50pm Still trying to get to my tea! Wet hair, out of rain gear, light rain now. Sailing nicely in SE 9kt wind, heading SSW at 3.5kt.

6.15pm Still raining - showing no sign of stopping - solidly grey and miserable-looking everywhere. Wind down to 4-5 bkt from ENE, boat speed almost zero and SOG 1kt. I'm amazed that Fred is coping so well, keeping us going in such extremely light conditions. Genoa keeps giving up and then just about filling again. I'm waiting for us to grind to a halt... If that happens, maybe we'll keep drifting SW in a slight current. The main Equatorial current must be not so very far to the S of us now - and that's W-going.

Finished preparing food for tonight - but decided too early to cook as yet. Had to finish up what started out as a big chunk of ham - so it's ham, onions and potato omelette tonight and chopped ham in Alfredo sauce with pasta tomorrow.

6.50pm Suddenly picked up speed, with wind backing to NNE at 8kt - we're making 4.2kt! 'Cloud effect'?? Maybe - just checked on deck - rain falling ahead.. We're up to 5.4 kt now, in 10kt of NE wind.

Tues 6.20am Wind continued NNE-NE overnight and we made a good course, around SE, most of the night. At 6am, I woke to find us drifting NE, hove-to, in wind from SSW, but that didn't last long - after sorting out the sails and then finding wind was back in NNE, up to 16kt for a time, we got sailing again - heading S in ENE, becoming E, wind which finally eased to 8-9kt. I'd like to keep heading SE if possible, to avoid the calms developing to our W soon - but we can only head where the wind allows us....

7.40am Was back on deck - fine drizzle - wind had died to 6kt and veered to SSE - so had to gybe around to get onto starboard tack to avoid heading W... As wind veers more, we should head more SE - or that's the hope! Later: SOG is 2.4kt in 7kt of wind - we're making a SE course.

NOTE We've finally passed south of 8N - that's a major milestone in this mammoth struggle to get south!!

10am Solid rain all morning = just took off raingear having let out reefs- I'd forgotten reefs were in overnight from when squall came through. With wind below 5kt now, we need the extra sail area.. W wind now - making heading SE difficult - having to make do with heading as close to S as conditions will permit. Boom is on a prevehter - the wind is so light that it bangs about in the swell otherwise. If the wind veers much more, we'll need to gybe to make a SEly course.

Coffee.....

1200 PDT - end of Day27. We made another tiny gain further South - just 42 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's noon position ... Satellite photos show big mass of cloud centred where we are now.... A small but nasty storm is forecast to develop overnight into tomorrow just N of us - hopefully, it will pass us well to N but would be nice if we could head S a tiny bit faster...!

Photos are of track over last two days and of view aft from companionway - not much wind or solar power just now. Small 'mushroom' is the Aurora terminal, courtesy Redport/XGate - enables me to post these photos via the Iridium network and download frequent weather updates. SSB/HF radio still being well used as well, for voice contact and emailing.

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

TIME: 2018/10/30 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 07-50.80N LONGITUDE: 129-00.62W COURSE: 178T SPEED: 4.0kt
WIND_SPEED: 7kt WIND_DIR: WNW SWELL_DIR: SSW SWELL_HT: 1.5M CLOUDS: 100%
BARO: 1012.3hPa TREND: -1 AIR_TEMP: 26.0C SEA_TEMP: 34.0C
COMMENT: Grey clouds everywhere - rain stopped, finally... More later?

Sun 4pm Tea's made! Feeling good having achieved several things today. It was very calm this afternoon so I decided to start on the deck jobs.

I'd been delighted to find I had a replacement bolt & spring for the Hydrovane ratio control knob - so that was a relatively easy fix and was done first, using plenty of Loctite. Importantly, it means that Fred can be put back into action which saves a lot of battery power.

I'd been wondering why our battery usage seemed high - I noticed today that I had the radar scanner on standby - that takes power but is now switched off. No need for radar out here, especially with AIS available with an alarm function.

The next job I decided had to be to fix the genoa foot shackle. The genoa (big headsail) is in constant use at present, so it would be really bad if it were to give a problem - as would have happened if the pin of the shackle had come out completely before I noticed it yesterday. My main concern was that the pin might have bent under the strain of being half out, making it impossible to screw it back in place but, having released the halyard tension a little after furling the sail in, I was able to get enough leverage to persuade the pin to go back where it belonged - a big relief. I'd really expected the job to turn into a bit of a nightmare!

As I was 'mousing' the pin with some wire, to make sure it couldn't come unscrewed again, I felt the wind picking up - there was a big grey raincloud ahead... Perfect timing with two important jobs completed. I was also happy not to get burned by the sun which was mainly behind cloud while I was on deck. The two staysail jobs and solar panel connectors will have to wait for another calm patch - I'm sure there'll be one very soon!

Time to enjoy some Danish blue cheese on crackers with my tea - a late lunch... Wind's back down from 12 kt to 6 kt from SE - we're going really fast, at 1.4kt SOG :-).... but heading SW. Any heading that involves some southing is good!!

7.30pm Getting dark, with grey rainclouds all around - giving us some wind: 9 kt from ESE. We're making 3.4kt. Most of the afternoon, we were making less than 1kt!

With the genoa fully unfurled in light winds, I'd tensioned the halyard and tidied up the long length of rope.
There was a small group of birds flying nearby, swooping low over the water - skimming it on long, thin wings, dark above, whitish below, a 'cap' on their heads... Lovely to watch. Shearwaters, I think - I must check my birdbook - they were very similar to the Atlantic shearwater but we're in the wrong place. Greater shearwater, maybe?

10.20pm Keep having to change tack as wind varies from SW quadrant to SE quadrant and back again.

Taking a long time to get nowhere....

Mon 3am Another change of tack - we had been only making less than a knot heading WSW but now, heading SE in SW wind we've been making 4-5 kt - amazingly good feeling to be making a half-decent speed in a straight line! (Note: We made 20ml before the rainsquall at 8am) We're slowly zig-zagging our way S - but oh-so-very slowly...

I'm hoping for some more calm seas again later today so I can get to the solar panel and staysail problems - would be nice to get those out of the way. Back to my bunk now for some more sleep.....

At 8am it was raining hard - lasted half an hour before the squall was over and the wind died totally. Wind had backed suddenly with the raincloud, so we drifted hove-to for a time. Eventually, wind veered into SW again - but only 6kt. Despite the 1st reef's nettles, the sail was a bag of water - they weren't tied in tightly enough - and maybe not enough of them? Had to raise main if only to get rid of the water in it. By 10.20am, with Fred back in charge and heading slowly SE once again, I was finally down below, needing my coffee and breakfast!

11:15am Just glanced at instruments - wind hss veered right around - to WNW. Being under wind-steering, with Hydrovane Fred in charge, has meant we followed the wind around... So we're now making SW, at all of 2.6 kt in 6kt of wind. SLOW ... but a good course.

1200 PDT - end of Day26. We made only 32 n.ml.(DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday's noon position ... Wind has backed to W-WSW from WNW - no wonder our course is wiggly - no, I've NOT been at the rum!!

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

TIME: 2018/10/29 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 08-21.79N LONGITUDE: 129-28.39W COURSE: 202T SPEED: 2.5kt
WIND_SPEED: 6kt WIND_DIR: WNW SWELL_DIR: SSW SWELL_HT: 1.5m CLOUDS: 100%
BARO: 1013.3hPa TREND: 0 AIR_TEMP: 27.0C SEA_TEMP: 35.0C28Oct2018 - ITCZ raincloud coming our way!.JPG29OCT2018 32ml of drifting over most of24hrs.JPG

Sat 4.30pm Having a great sail this afternoon - no squalls in sight and making a reasonable SSW course in ESE wind of ~8kt. Swell not at all bad - just a bit 'bouncy' but we're rarely being knocked around. A lot of rather broken cloud cover, looking slightly showery ahead but nothing too threatening... Let out the reef I'd left in, in case of squalls.

Forecast is still showing the wind disappearing by later tomorrow for a day or so... We'll just have to take it as it comes...

I just investgated the solar panel output. I tied a large towel over each panel in turn (was able to cover the lower one third), and checked the displayed output before and after removing the towel.

The result was very clear-cut but also somewhat surprising:
1) The port side panel was giving nothing - no difference in output seen whether it was partly covered or not.

2) With just one-third of the starboard (working) panel covered, the output dropped to zero - most surprising since my understanding was that the cells in the panel keep giving a power output even though some of them are shaded... I'd expected to find a one-third reduction in output - but not so.... Nada, nada... Clearly the fault is connected with the port side panel and/or its wiring - that much is now clear.

While there, I looked at the butt connections between the wires from the panels and those leading through the pole to down below. They were looking slightly corroded inside the butt connector and the outside of the connectors was feeling sticky with wet salt.

I've had this exact problem before - despite the adhesive-lined, heat-shrink butt connectors seeming to make a good, well-protected connection, they are prone to internal corrosion - maybe the salt water seeps up inside the glue... or in via damage caused by the crimping?? With hindsight (always so good, right?), I suppose I should have checked those connections before leaving - but I keep assuming that those connectora are 'bullet-proof' if used correctly.

The good panel's connector didn't look any different from the bad one's - so it seems I'll have to hope for some slack in the wires to work with and re-make all those connections - and hope the tinned wire used is doing its job. That will need very calm conditions since the work has to be done in situ. It's likely to need mean all four being re-made - two red (+ve) and two black (-ve)...

I've still to grapple with the locker door hinge.... but will relax for now over my tea, sittng out in the cockpit and enjoying hthe sailing and the scene.

After that, I went to check on the staysail foot situation - the shacke holdingthe foot in place has been undone for a time, waiting for calm conditions to allow me to unfurl the sail, loosen the halyard and re-connect the shackle - but I came across a few other problems - detailed in my previous report, so I shan't repeat here... All a bit of a worry....

10.15pm If I didn't know I'm alone out here on the ocean, I'd have thought someone had lit a bonfire! The moon was rising - an orange-yallow ball of fire, lighting up the clouds with its eerie light. Only as it climbed higher did it gain its usual serene silver appearance.

Sun 4a.m. Have been up quite a while. Apart from making a brief contact on the HF radio with Jim in Cuba, I've been mainly trying to keep the boat moving in 4-5 kt wind which shifted first to S and has then slowly veered into SSW, occasionally SW.

We suddenly picked up speed from our previous overnight 2kt to a speedy 4-5 kt... now 6kt! There's a raincloud I can see off to starboard which is giving us some wind - nearly 10 knots... wow! Won't last long, though... (By 5am, we were back to 5kt wind and 2.5kt SOG)

8am We're surrounded by big, spreading, grey rainclouds, sometimes with a patch of blue and tops of white cumulus in between. Just came out from the heavy rain and a 15kt wind under one of them an hour ago. The wind had switched in no time from SW to SE and backed the big headsail (genoa). I had been asleep but was woken up by the change in motion - and from nearly being thrown out of my bunk by the boat suddenly heeling the other way... Now we're driftimg around at 1.8kt with no steerage in 4 kt of SE wind - must go back on deck to see if I can persuade the boat to head in a sensible direction if we're not to drift in circles yet again...

A waste of time! The boat is now pointing WSW but speed is 0.2kt (with full sail) and we're drifting NW... It's 8.40am - Time for coffee and breakfast.

My hair was soaking wet so I brushed it - and gave it a cut..! Just 6-7 cm (2 1/2 inches). I'd been thinking of doing it since before leaving - wasn't too difficult, taken in two halves, and there's that much less to deal with.

9.15am Tried again heading more S. Couldn't bear to see our hard-won southing disappear slowly! So far, so good - the bow is headed SW and we're also making way SW at 1.9kt in 6-7 kt wind from SSE on edge of a raincloud - hint of misty rain. Expect wind will increase due to cloud, so speed might inrease also. We'll see how it goes. Wind speed is very up and down.

10.45am Just discovered a major problem with Hydrovane Fred - normally very trusty in control of our steering. I'd been wondering why he'd had a problem keeping course overnight... The bolt holding the vane section to the rudder gearing mechanism has disappeared out of the control knob. So Fred now has absolutely no control over the windsteering rudder. I'll see if I can find the identical size, pitch and screw thread on one of the bolts in my spares... Yippee! The missing item found in my spares kit. Now for some blue Loctite... and we'll soon be back in business.

1200 PDT - end of Day25. We made 42 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday - not too bad, I suppose, considering rain squalls and how light and shifty the winds have been...

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

TIME: 2018/10/28 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 08-51.72N LONGITUDE: 129-39.03W COURSE: 190T SPEED: 2.5kt
WIND_SPEED: 8kt WIND_DIR: E SWELL_DIR: N SWELL_HT: 1.5m CLOUDS: 75%
BARO: 1013.6hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 26.0C SEA_TEMP: 35.0C
COMMENT: Rain squalls at times. Light, shifty winds getting even lighter. 24hr DMG: 42m

Saturday evening 27th Oct

Went to check on staysail foot this evening. Had noticed a while ago that the shackle had come undone that holds foot of sail on to Furlex drum.

Found a few more problems ....

Split pin holding clevis pin in place below Furlex drum - not secured & trying its best to come out. Saw to problem using flat screwdriver and pliers.

Plastic locking block holding Furlex drum in place is loose so drum is free to rotate... a problem that needs to be fixed before staysail can be used.

Shackle holding down foot of staysail is undone, so sail will come loose - a big problem. Need to unfurl staysail, release halyard tension and reconnect shackle so foot of sail is held in place firmly.

Shackle pin on Furlex drum at foot of genoa caught my eye - sticking out. Pin is already half out of shackle - a wonder it hasn't come out completely already. I've made a temporary fix using mousing wire to try to stop pin from coming out completely - but need to lower halyard to relieve halyard tension so pin can be re-tightened properly and then moused with wire to prevent a recurrence . If pin comes away, genoa foot would then be loose so sail would rise up with halyard tension - another big problem, just like the staysail one



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