If you would like to subscribe to my RSS feed, you can click here

S/V Nereida sails around the world

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

Friday 4pm A good thing I had breakfast - I've been on deck almost solidly since then.... just finished my morning coffee.

Tried to avoid one spreading, dark grey raincloud ahead - no way! Wind shifted around it, so had to change tack - one of many today... So the boat has had another good rinse off - actually a good thing since eveywhere was sticky and salty wet to the touch.

Amazingly, we managed to get in some southing before midday - but none at all since then. We're now 3 miles N of where we were then, and about 6 miles W of that position. Just gybed around (not possible to tack around - can't get through the wind with such low boat speeds), hoping to make SE or ESE at least, rather than NW - but no - worked fine initially, making ESE for a good 1/2 mile (!), but now we're heading ENE-NE... So very frustrating!! We're now just crossing our path from overnight... Wind: 5kt SOG: 2.4kt - of which a good part, I suspect might be due to a NE-going current. Our boat heading is SE, close-hauled, but our COG (actual course over the ground) is ENE-NE.

4.35pm Sun is getting out - wind is now 4kt and clouds dispering. I'm not sure what's worse - making way slowly in the wrong direction, but at least moving, or getting nowhere at all with the sails slatting noisily in no wind but some swell. I took a photo showing the boat pointing (heading) SSE but moving (COG) ENE... A ninety degree difference - we're being taken sideways!

5.15pm Furled in genoa totally - was flogging itself on spreaders etc and clearly doing nothing.

About to lower mainsail and tie in first reef. Will give me a chance to add 'nettles' to the sail's reef points - short pieces of line to tie in around the mainsail when reefed so the sail doesn't collect water when it rains. That happened earlier and it's not good for the sail to be dragging on the hard top with a heavy load of water trapped inside it.

Later: Good job done! Also added some bungy cord to the points below the boom where the boom end of the two preventer lines are stowed, to keep the short lengths of line clear of my bimini support. That had become a major problem at times. Also a couple of other small items seen to.

Unfortunately, that galley door hinge came away - seems T'd loosened an adjusting screw too much the other day - so now I'm having to resolve the problem of getting it back in place so the hinge stays together... (That meant undoing my hard work of yesterday of screwing into place the slightly larger screws....no winning! Having done that and got the delinquent machine screw into position on the hinge, the two holes for those screws aren't lining up - work in progress..)

10pm Decided to try sailing, instead of drifting around, on seeing a light wind from NNW at 7-8kt. Full genoa - not flogging - sailing smoothly - good! - if only we were on a better COG - presently only making ESE. Little swell - feels good!

12 midnight Well , we seem to have found a strong E-flowing current, for sure. Equatorial current? Maybe the counter-flow? If we head E, our speed is reasonable. If we head W, speed is abysmal if not backwards.... We were going quite nicely in around 8 kt of NNW wind - but COG was ENE-NE so we tacked around (speed being good enough) to head more S - immediately, our SOG dropped to 2kt or less and our course, instead of being similar to our heading, was far different - wind now has veered to N from NNW at 6kt, so now I'm seeing: SOG 1.2kt, boat speed 1.5kt, COG 154kt. We're definitely not Speedy Gonzales just now!

Saturday morning
Lovely view around sunrise of pink cumulus and stratus in the distance with moon still visible in the western sky, just before 7.30 am PDT.
We'd just had another washdown from a raincloud. Nice to be able to wipe down the windscreen with fresh rainwater.
Had better wind for several hours later overnight and into morning - ENE-E. 6-7kt seems to be the norm just now.
Fred struggling a bit to keep us roughly on course in such a light apparent wind - but just about coping... Still have a couple or more days of even less wind, maybe - and expected from more S, which is bad news for our resulting COG!

Radio bands are jumping noisily over this weekend - a major International Radio Contest - who can make the most contacts with other countries??! Jim, WB2REM, was in Havana, Cuba, instead of his home in Florida, and was on his usual frequency of 7163 but with the special callsign of T42T - I had good copy on him, and he on me, so we made a good contact, as did quite a few of the morning 'regulars' on 7163. I heard Japan, Indonesia, Australia, as well as USA & Canada, of course - people trying to make contact with others from all over the world on any (legal) frequency they could find to transmit on.... I had to smile as I tuned in to different frequencies and heard so many people making 'CQ Contest' calls!

11.30am Woke up from a short nap - needed to make up for lost sleep overnight - and found wind had veered to ESE, so had to adjust Fred's steering angle and trim sails for close reach.

1200 PDT - end of Day24. We made just 28 n.ml. (DMG) to the SE over the 24 hr period since yesterday's midday position - so much wandering around and that current clearly taking us ENE.
We're now 2600 miles due W of Costa Rica - haven't got as far S as Panama yet - but should 'arrive' there soon.

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

TIME: 2018/10/27 20:44GMT LATITUDE: 09-29.09N LONGITUDE: 129-28.67W COURSE: 204T SPEED: 3.8kt
WIND_SPEED: 9kt WIND_DIR: SE SWELL_DIR: N SWELL_HT: 1.5m CLOUDS: 80%
BARO: 1011.8hPa TREND: -1 AIR_TEMP: 29.0C SEA_TEMP: 35.0C
COMMENT: Smooth sailing under cloudy, but sunny, sky. DMG over 24hr: only 28ml SE from y'day's position!

Thurs 5pm Things beginning to calm down a bit now from earlier - seas still fairly steep at times but not so high resulting in not so much rolling around.

Looks like several days of being becalmed is coming up. Hopefully, there'll be a slight breeze at times to make way occasionally but not looking good... Not having the use of an engine to get through the calm areas will make the passage south a lot longer.

Just released first reef - winds definitely easing.

Having to put out towels everywhere to be comfortable when touching surfaces - when writing up my log, the paper gets wet otherwise.

Had a pleasant couple of chats on 40m - excellent copy on two hams - one from near Los Angeles and another in Indiana - good signals from both of them, so no problem chatting.

7.30pm Was having a mug of tea, sitting out in the cockpit, enjoying the refreshing cool air, having brought in the boom to reach the preventer lines and re-connect the starboard preventer - feel far more comfortable with that in place in this swell on a broad reach. A few 3m/10ft steep-faced waves came along dead astern - and, suddenly, there we were, surfing at over 7 kt down the face of each one - good fun!!! We've slowed down a lot, despite full canvas - only making around 5-5.5kt now. The sky is almost completely covered, but with light cloud - no threatening, towering cumulus - yet! Light is fading fast. The moon should be rising soon, if not already, but its bright light will be dimmed by the cloud layer. Down below, the air is very warm and humid - I finally gave up on long trousers - far too hot! Definitely into light summer gear now - bare arms and legs...

Enjoyed an apple - three more left...

We're due W of Costa Rica by 2,500 miles just now. Tomorrow, we'll be due W of Panama....

8pm Time for the Pacific Seafarers' Net on 14300kHz and my daily evening check in and weather report. I keep hearing boats I know checking in - it's nice to find out where they are now. I met most of them in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico, over the last few years when they were preparing for their Pacific crossing to the Marquesas and French Polynesia.

11.30pm Wind has dropped right down to 11kt, occasionally up to 14kt, so we've slowed right down ... Doldrums, here we come! Well- that was clearly the 'lull before the storm', almost exactly on reaching 10N. Wind came up suddenly just after writing that - to well over 20kt. We were rushing along due west in a rain squall.... with me frantically reefing down and getting very wet... unwanted excitement! The wind direction had changed from NE to ESE so our course and sail trim needed adjusting. We've been mainly close-hauled ever since then. At least we've all had a wash down in fresh water!

Fri 8am: In fact, all night long, I've been up at least once an hour to check on our heading in wind that finally settled down - right down - to 8kt during the night but 5kt now, from different directions but mainly either SE, SW or S. That meant we had trouble heading S and actually have gone around in a big wiggly loop, frequently headed either NW or NE. At sunrise, there was another major windshift which seemed to coincide with passing a long line of grey cloud.

The best I can do in present conditions is to keep the wind to starboard if it's from the SW quadrant, or to port, if from SE quadrant. That way there's a chance we might make some southing... We've made less than 8 miles of southing in the 9 hours since heading due W when the squall hit last night and we're about 4 miles further W.

8.30am We were heading SW - at 1.4kt! - having made a semi-circle as the 4-5kt wind veered to WSW as I wrote this..... Having just adjusted Fred, we're now heading almost S - at least, until the wind shifts again.... Time for beakfast, with half an eye on the wind direction and our resulting course... and then, maybe, a nap.

Day23 Thurs-Fri 25-26 October 2018

5pm Things beginning to calm down a bit now from earlier - seas still fairly steep at times but not so high resulting in not so much rolling around.

Looks like several days of being becalmed is coming up. Hopefully, there'll be a slight breeze at times to make way occasionally but not looking good... Not having the use of an engine to get through the calm areas will make the passage south a lot longer.

Just released first reef - winds definitely easing.

Having to put out towels everywhere to be comfortable when touching surfaces - when writing up my log, the paper gets wet otherwise.

Had a pleasant couple of chats on 40m - excellent copy on two hams - one from near Los Angeles and another in Indiana - good signals from both of them, so no problem chatting.

7.30pm Was having a mug of tea, sitting out in the cockpit, enjoying the refreshing cool air, having brought in the boom to reach the preventer lines and re-connect the starboard preventer - feel far more comfortable with that in place in this swell on a broad reach. A few 3m/10ft steep-faced waves came along dead astern - and, suddenly, there we were, surfing at over 7 kt down the face of each one - good fun!!! We've slowed down a lot, despite full canvas - only making around 5-5.5kt now. The sky is almost completely covered, but with light cloud - no threatening, towering cumulus - yet! Light is fading fast. The moon should be rising soon, if not already, but its bright light will be dimmed by the cloud layer. Down below, the air is very warm and humid - I finally gave up on long trousers - far too hot! Definitely into light summer gear now - bare arms and legs...

Enjoyed an apple - three more left...

We're due W of Costa Rica by 2,500 miles just now. Tomorrow, we'll be due W of Panama....

8pm Time for the Pacific Seafarers' Net on 14300kHz and my daily evening check in and weather report. I keep hearing boats I know checking in - it's nice to find out where they are now. I met most of them in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico, over the last few years when they were preparing for their Pacific crossing to the Marquesas and French Polynesia.

11.30pm Wind has dropped right down to 11kt, occasionally up to 14kt, so we've slowed right down ... Doldrums, here we come! Well- that was clearly the 'lull before the storm', almost exactly on reaching 10N. Wind came up suddenly just after writing that - to well over 20kt. We were rushing along due west in a rain squall.... with me frantically reefing down and getting very wet... unwanted excitement! The wind direction had changed from NE to ESE so our course and sail trim needed adjusting. We've been mainly close-hauled ever since then. At least we've all had a wash down in fresh water! Must get out my sailing gloves - hauling on wet ropes with bare hands is an excellent prescription for blistered fingers...

Fri 8am: In fact, all night long, I've been up at least once an hour to check on our heading in wind that finally settled down - right down - to 8kt during the night but 5kt now, from different directions but mainly either SE, SW or S. That meant we had trouble heading S and actually have gone around in a big wiggly loop, frequently headed either NW or NE. At sunrise, there was another major windshift which seemed to coincide with passing a long line of grey cloud.

The best I can do in present conditions is to keep the wind to starboard if it's from the SW quadrant, or to port, if from SE quadrant. That way there's a chance we might make some southing... We've made less than 8 miles of southing in the 9 hours since heading due W when the squall hit last night and we're about 4 miles further W.

8.30am We were heading SW - at 1.4kt! - having made a semi-circle as the 4-5kt wind veered to WSW as I wrote this..... Having just adjusted Fred, we're now heading almost S - at least, until the wind shifts again.... Time for beakfast, with half an eye on the wind direction and our resulting course... and then, maybe, a nap.

Later - well, I managed breakfast but no nap. Just before midday, two enormous rainclouds appeared close by and, despite trying to dodge the one upwind of us, it caught us, of course... Several wind shifts involved changing tack each time, twice backng the main. Reefed down as the wind started rising, as a precautuon - often these clouds have 30kt winds in them - but not seen anything over 20kt so far. Mainly heading W now in S-SE wind. Tried tacking around, thinking would be nice to head more S, but didn't work out - wind shifted and dropped just then. We're 'going with the flow' just now and hoping to get onto a better course soon.

Forecast is still for no wind very soon...

1200 PDT - end of Day23. We made 75 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday - 65ml were made reaching 10N around midnight PDT and the other 10 ml DMG since then (12hrs!) - a lot more, of course, in actual distance travelled... but not in the right direction!

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

TIME: 2018/10/26 20:43GMT LATITUDE: 09-50.00NLONGITUDE: 129-52.88W COURSE: 255T SPEED: 3.6kt WIND_SPEED: 11kt WIND_DIR: SE SWELL_DIR: N SWELL_HT: 1.5m CLOUDS: 100% BARO: 1011.8 hPa TREND: -1 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 35.0C COMMENT: ITCZ - big rainclouds giving wind - shifts all over...

Wed 3.40pm Another lovely sailing afternoon - bright sun, good wind. Decided it was time to lower and stow the genoa pole - doesn't look as though it will be needed anytime soon. That meant changing the genoa sheet lead on that side - which in turn lead to a thorough checking of all lines on the port side - need to make sure they all run corrctly as and when they're needed. About time for a drink and some lunch...

Studying the weather, as usual. Looks as though it will be touch and go whether I get through the imminent calm area before the wind dies totally in two days' time...

Thurs 8.30am A full moon lit up the sea last night - went on deck several times to adjust our course as the wind shifted and it was so bright - lovely! The downside a such a bright moon, of course, is not being able to see many stars, despite the few clouds around. Early on, there was a solitary small cloud high up near the moon - the only cloud to be seen.... Ambient air emperature is now around 26C/80F and humidity is fairly high so it was refreshing to sit out in the cool night air.

Wind has mainly kept up in strength (16-18kt) but has been backing and veering - really shifty - betweet NNE and ENE. Aiming for 10N, 130W still looks like our best option so we're broad-reaching all the time and the swell really caught us out yesterday.

I'd checked again the fuse area of the solar panel wiring, in case I'd missed something simple there, but no power whatsoever is coming into the one fuse, which is fine. I was about to dig further into the recesses of the aft cabin to look at the wiring at the base of the pole leading down from the solar panels to inside the boat when the mainsail was backed - we gybed in a bigger swell - we went hove-to. That took quite a time to sort out because I'd not secured the preventer line and it caught badly on the metal of my bimini support - I had to move fast to avert a mini disaster!

I was wondering if the chafed area on the cable found the evening before I left had caused that one solar panel a major problem - maybe it had caused a short? But then, a week ago, the fuse had blown, I replaced it and, for a time, we had full solar power.... So I just don't know what's going on, but I'm thankful the wind generator and the other solar panel are working well, along with the small diesel generator.

It's still looking very hit-and-miss whether we'll get through the Doldrums (ITCZ) without a problem - chances are high that we'll be moving too slowly in a bad direction, given the forecast light winds which will be coming from every which way but mainly heading us... So I'm expecting we'll be becalmed at some point over this weekend and maybe into next week. Que sera, sera!

11.15am When the wind is gusting up to over 23kt, it's definitely time to tie in a reef! Now done. Control is far better... Wind is from NE and seas are up in line with the increased wind strength. A lot of big clouds around but none looking squally/rainy and the the sun is managing to peek through from time to time. Getting hot and sticky - 28C/83F, humidity 76%. Too rough to chase after wiring problems.

1200 PDT - end of Day22. We made 146 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday - another good day's run!

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

TIME: 2018/10/25 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 11-03.79N LONGITUDE: 129-37.53W COURSE: 201T SPEED: 6.0kt WIND_SPEED: 20kt WIND_DIR: NE SWELL_DIR: NNE SWELL_HT: 3.0m CLOUDS: 85% BARO: 1013.5hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 34.0C COMMENT: Hot & sticky in 28C & 76% humidity

Tues 2pm Sun getting out nicely now, fewer clouds. Still have company of a few storm petrels. Poled out genoa on changing course - now more downwind. Heading now to 10N, 130W - my original WP. Looks as though that will give us the best chance of getting through the near-calms around 8-10N without being stopped in our tracks. Constantly reviewing the sail trim and our course in preent light wind (~9kt) that keeps varying from NNE - ENE....

3.30pm All of a sudden, the wind backed slightly (to NE) and gusted up to over 16kt ... We picked up speed to 6.5-7kt - and not a cloud nearby - clear blue sky... Struck me as odd, but great to have the speed. (The increased wind continued but settled down to ~15kt. Took the genoa off the pole and over to starboard, furled in a touch. We're still making 6.5-7kt SOG but it's feeling perfectly comfortable.

It was calm enough today to have a go at the top hinge on the galley door that needs its screws replaced. The Gorilla tape is doing an excellent job, holding the top of the door in position when opened and so easing the stress on the lower hinge fixings. I've plenty more matchsticks! I was hoping to make a repair that would last longer than the last one. but it hasn't worked out too well - need more matchsticks or something else to help the screws stay put in the holes... I'll try thicker screws tomorrow.

Took time out from the jobs to have a long chat on 20m with a radio friend.

Went to the aft cabin to get to the solar panel wiring. Side-tracked by need to secure a few items better and clear a path to the wiring area... Would be good if I can track down the cause of the solar panel failure - don't hold out much hope of success there, but I must at least explore the options.

In opening up the area, I noticed an earth lead on the cable leading down from the Superwind wind generator was not connected. That worried me greatly, but after taking photos from every possible angle, thinking I'd ask the company for advice (they've been really helpful in the past) and then checking out the wiring diagrams, it appears the wire is a spare and definitely should not be connected up..... A big relief!

That took quite a time to resolve so I'll investigate the wiring from the solar panels tomorrow.

The sun set tonight in a sky almost devoid of cloud - it's been clear all afternoon - saw a Leach's petrel - distinctive white rump.

The bulk carrier 'Eagle' came within one mile astern of us this evening - on its way with LPG to Korea from Gulf of Mexico I was told, on calling them on VHF for a quick chat. I could hear its engines clearly. Showed that it is a very good idea to keep the AIS switched on, so Nereida can be 'seen' from a distance!

Wed 11.40am Just put tools and spare screws away after fixing the galley door hinge - longer, thicker.... Usually works and it feels as though the screws have really 'bitten' this time! Managed to wedge myself well into place so I could work in the quite rolly conditions - with the wind well up since yesterday, the seas are up as well, with frequent bigger ones catching us to throw the boat about more. Makes getting jobs done a bit challenging! Now I just have to remember to lock the door in place when I close it, to prevent it coming open with a crash in the swell....

Bright, clear sky and good wind A paradise for sailing the oceans... Making good progress SSW - but towards the Doldrums - will we get caught out in the forecast calms on Saturday?? Time will tell!

Next - on to the solar panel problem - multimeter in hand (seeing 10A input on occasion - pity it's not doubled). What would we do without a multimeter?? That job will have to wait for a little later. It's time now for my midday position & weather report and DMG measuring.

1200 PDT - end of Day21. We made a nice 148 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday.

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

TIME: 2018/10/24 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 13-28.02N LONGITUDE: 129-13.40W COURSE: 190T SPEED: 6.5kt WIND_SPEED: 17kt WIND_DIR: NE SWELL_DIR: N SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 1% BARO: 1015.5hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 26.0C SEA_TEMP: 32.0C COMMENT: A few tiny, fluffy white clouds. A bit rolly. 148ml DMG

Monday 1:30pm Everything is feeling really smooth and gentle - so much calmer now. Sky still totally overcast - but with light grey cloud and sun trying to peek through.... Swell down, now winds have eased to around 13kt - we're on a very broad reach - not quite broad enough to warrant poling out the genoa. Also, just not calm enough to see to the staysail. I need almost total calm for that - but I suspect that will be coming my way soon enough, looking at the weather files.

Unlike Randall, attempting his 'Figure of 8' journey, the 'unassisted' tag on my nonstop solo attempt won't allow me the luxury of using my engine at any time to help me to get through a difficult patch - my attempt has to be under sail alone from start to finish. So in calms or light headwinds (in just a few days time - Sat-Sun??) we're likely to be floundering around for a bit!! Always frustrating but that's how it is... I just hope that the S winds and calms from there on will not last for as long as forecast - looking like several days, at the moment..... Yuck!

On with the jobs, while this afternoon's smooth sailing lasts.... Sun's getting out...

4pm What a lovely day! I realised that I could sit on deck, dealing with adding/replacing bungies to several blocks that are leading lines aft and, although the sun was shining brightly with few clouds around, I was in the shade of the mainsail - perfect! I then sat in the cockpit and ate a late lunch - see the photos taken of the view to port and starboard from my 'dining room'!

We're making way at ~5kt so very smoothly, in wind of ~14kt, broad-reaching. It's calm enough to get several outstanding small jobs completed - but I haven't yet had a look at the solar panel issue. That's going to involve quite a bit of digging around in the aft cabin. It's a good thing my Superwind wind generator has been whizzing around merrily when the wind gets up.

The scene near sunset was quite dramatic, with rain falling from dark grey cloud masses well off to starboard, on either side of the sun - I just had to take a photo.

Tuesday - I had to be awake just after midnight for my 'sked' with BBC Radio Solent .... soon after 12:30am PDT(here) = 8.30am BST (UK time), for their Breakfast Show. Had the phone powered up ready for their call - hoping the call wouldn't 'drop' mid-conversation, as Iridium calls have the annoying habit of doing... but all went well and the connection was pretty good. I gather it's Half Term week - so I hope everyone's enjoying their week off school.

Just before I went on air with the BBC, we were still making way well but soon after, the wind slowly died and now, at 1.30am PDT, we're only moving at 3.5kt in NE winds of 8kt. It's going to take us a long time to get through the ITCZ at this rate...! Back to my bunk for some more sleep...

Tues morning A relaxing day - the sun is not quite managing to get out from under a light grey cloud. No rainclouds seen nearby. Ambling along....

Changed course to due S after looking at latest weather info - if we're VERY lucky, we might manage to get through the Doldrum calms on Sat/Sun without too much drifting around aimlessly - in fact, I'm hoping we might get through there before the wind dies completely - but that's being unduly optimistic, I think. Likely also to get some heavy rain at times - looks to be unavoidable.... and if we don't make way fast enough now, we could get caught and be drifting around for two days... Time will tell!

It's calm enough today to have a go at the top hinge on the galley door that needs its screws replaced. The Gorilla tape is doing an excellent job, holding the top of the door in position when opened and so easing the stress on the lower hinge. I've plenty more matchsticks! Let's hope this repair will last longer than the last one.

Then, I'll have to bite the bullet and see if I can track down the cause of the solar panel failure - don't hold out much hope of success there, but I must at least explore the options.

1200 PDT - end of Day20. We made 123 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday.I expected it to be less but occasionally our speed has got up to over 5kt! Small group of storm petrels seen nearby - dipping into the sea and flitting over its surface - lovely to see (and hear) them.

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

Date/Time: 2018/10/23 19:00GMT Latitude: 15-54.17N Longitude: 128-51.86W Speed: 5.0KT Course: 181T Wind_Dir: NE Wind_Speed: 8kt Swell_Dir: N Swell_Ht: 2.0m Clouds: 100% Baro: 1015.4hPa Trend: 0 Air_Temp: 26.0C Sea_Temp: 30.0C Comment: Ambling under lt grey overcast - sun not quite getting out. Humidity 75%. 123ml DMG

After posting my daily report yesterday, I realised the solar display seemed to be very low - at midday, in full sun at times, as the boat moves around, we were only getting half of what I expected to see. I went to check the fuses again - the circuit that had been fine before was still so but the circuit that had had a blown fuse was giving no power at all. I even changed the fuse twice over - but fuses were fine, circuit not. So now I have to chase the wiring and connections back to the panels - in present rolly conditions not something I fancy doing on the after-deck, perched over the stern with a multimeter and nothing much else to hold on to...

5pm Frigate bird flew by - but didn't stop... (They like to perch on mast tops overnight - often doing damage - they're big, heavy birds!) Very warm, blue sky, just a few clouds with a band of cloud over SE horizon. Winds have been fairly consistent at 16-17kt from NNE.

Making ~170T, heading for possible gap in ITCZ at 128-9W - if I'm lucky, that will work but will no doubt find squally weather soon after. ITCZ is not looking too good just now. We're well out of the path of the big Mexican hurricane - but it seems to be affecting the winds south of here - they're all looking a bit of a mess!

Went to make a quick visual inspection of the solar panels and their wiring - nothing untoward seen, so nothing achieved so far....

As sun was getting low, started cooking evening meal - perfect timing... all done in good light. Lovely sunset - decided not to post photo - how many gorgeous sunset photos can one post??! Noted sun had disappeared by 7.10pm PDT. Got to eat meal in last of daylight, well before checking in to Pacific Seafarers' Net. Good copy on Jane, NH7TZ, in Kauai so was able to give my report easily. Nice to speak to John, VK4DBJ, briefly - he's high up, inland from Brisbane, Australia.

Didn't sleep too well overnight - kept hearing strong wind and feeling big swell - so eventually took in a second reef and things calmed down. But then kept convincing myself the wind had changed direction and we were heading on a stupid course - got up several times to check ... Each time we were beautifully on course - so eventually got some sleep!

Monday Grey skies - we had RAIN overnight! First for a long time - a good rinse off for all the sticky salt deposits everywhere on deck! Winds were very light after that, so out came the 2nd reef I'd tied in during the early hours when winds were over 20kt for a time.

Still studying the frequent weather updates I'm asking for. Heading more towards 130W now - hoping to avoid a big area of convection to E of there as we near 10N. Photo shows Mexican hurricane - 'Nereida' is just off the photo to left of middle - well out of harm's way. I'm getting these satellie images regularly to see where the 'nasty' convection is - and try to avoid it. In the second photo, 'Nereida' is in the second (clear) square to left of the hurricane's centre - no bad weather here for a day or two.

1200 PDT - end of Day19. We made 139 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday. Slowing down now.

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

TIME: 2018/10/22 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 17-46.48N LONGITUDE: 128-00.44W COURSE: 195T SPEED: 5.5kt WIND_SPEED: 14kt WIND_DIR: NNE SWELL_DIR: NNE SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 100% BARO: 1015.2hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 25C SEA_TEMP: 32C COMMENT: Rain overnight, no big squalls- reef2 in 20kt winds.All reefs now out.

(Note to UK friends - I'll be chatting 'live' from 'Nereida' around 8.30am BST on BBC Solent Radio's "Breakfast Show" Tuesday 23rd Oct. Thanks to Redport/GMN for making that possible via the Aurora satellite terminal loaned to me with Iridium airtime)

It has got warm enough for me to have to discard my last fleece layer... 24C air temperature is quite pleasant. The sea is warmer - 30C at its surface. No wonder Mexico has hurricanes - they feed off the warm waters.

Sat 4pm Finished sorting out the pole - had to furl in the genoa and release the lines holding the pole - happy that I managed to avoid a 'genoa wrap' (close call!) and that I also avoided dragging the pole end in the sea - just! Wasn't too bad a task. Conditions have been a lot calmer today, in generally lighter wind than yesterday, so that's why it finally got done.

Next jobs are the galley locker door and the gate support in the port lifelines - another job to be done while it's fairly calm - likely to get more 'boisterous' in a day or so. For the moment, I've used 'Gorilla' tape to help keep the door in place when I open it!

But it's time for tea - and a quick chat with radio friends on 20m...

9.30pm Dealt with gate support missing screw and checked all the others before my evening meal at sunset - all tight and in place now. Lovely moonlit night - most of the clouds have disappeared. Took genoa off pole and over to starboard - wind has veered to ENE and want to keep on a southerly course - so needed to change course relative to the wind. While organising that, had to go forward to release genoa sheet - and spotted that the shackle at the foot of the staysail was undone so staysail was no longer held down. Will need very light wind to unfurl the staysail, release the staysail halyard and re-connect the shackle before tensioning the halyard again and furling the sail. Will also need to look carefully at the furling line - think it needs re-winding. Might have to wait for wind to be sufficiently light. Have tied down foot of staysail as best I can in the meantime.

Sunday

Just before sunrise, took first reef in mainsail - too much canvas in wind up to 17kt again- boat speed still ~6.5kt. Overnight, cloud cover had appeared to give a dark, moonless night but now it was clear again with cloud only on the E and W horizons. The sky stayed clear and sunny with just a few light clouds appearing by midday.

Busy morning trying to check on weather and best southerly course to make. With nasty convection to the W of here, reaching well down to the ITCZ, which is around 8-10N, I'm trying to avoid heading too close to 130W - my original plan. Also, there's another small Low to the E, around 120W - so I'm hoping to 'thread the needle', presently trying to make a course of roughly 170T. Another problem is the most unusual headwind - a S wind - being forecast just below the ITCZ, to the east of 130W, next week. Will decide how to tackle that problem nearer the time - I'm still about five days away from 10N.

10am PDT Three tropic birds came by - graceful white birds - but making a really croaky sound! Couldn't see whether red- or white-tailed ones - colour of tail streamers wasn't easily seen, as they circled the boat at a distance. Got the impression they would have landed if they could... From lack of black markings on wings, think they must have been red-tailed but my N. America birds reference only mentions red-billed - which these might have been if it weren't for them missing the black wing markings shown. So I'll have to be content with simply labelling them 'tropic birds'!

1200 PDT - end of Day18. We made 128 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday. Wind has been mostly from NNE - had to get on deck well after midnight to adjust Fred so we could make a better southerly course.

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after midday PDT (=1900 GMT): TIME: 2018/10/21 19:00 GMT LATITUDE: 20-06.46N LONGITUDE: 128-20.89W COURSE: 162T SPEED: 6.5kt WIND_SPEED: 17kt WIND_DIR: NNE SWELL_DIR: NE SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 10% BARO: 1016.5 TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 25.0C SEA_TEMP: 30.0C COMMENT: Bright, sunny day. Rolly. Wind up-first reef in.

TIME: 2018/10/21 19:00 GMT LATITUDE: 20-06.46N LONGITUDE: 128-20.89W COURSE: 162T SPEED: 6.5kt WIND_SPEED: 17kt WIND_DIR: NNE SWELL_DIR: NE SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 10% BARO: 1016.5 TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 25.0C SEA_TEMP: 30.0C COMMENT: Bright, sunny day. Rolly. Wind up-first reef in.

Fri 5pm Teatime... I keep fancying chocolate biscuits with my tea! A grey sky. No wonder we're rolling around - the swell is quite steep-to and only 7 seconds apart, so even though only 2-2.5m/6-8ft high, the effect is very noticeable - especially when an even larger one comes by. With little sunshine, the lovely deep blue of yesterday's sea has given way to a grey-green.

My joblist now only has one final item awaiting calmer conditions, being a deck job - renewing bungies on the deck blocks leading lines aft to a winch, cleat or clutch. I also checked the whiteboard over the chart table and decided that, of the jobs listed there, just about all of them were either done or irrelevant - so with great glee, I wiped the board completely clean! I know of three jobs that never made it onto the joblists. They're not relevant to this particular journey, being more to do with the cruising life I'm supposed to be leading.... so they can wait for quite a time. If they get done before I'm back, it will be a nice bonus.

Sunset around 7.30pm PDT - nothing spectacular tonight - lots of grey cloud around still with just a few breaks. Rain falling from under a big cloud in the distance encouraged me to replace the zippered clear storm screen I'd taken down last week - it gives good protection to the companionway in rain.

Actually, we had no rain, or even a hint of it.

Enjoyed a delicious asparagus omelette tonight...

9pm Suddenly, things went quiet - the strong wind had switched off and had eased to 12-14kt. Soon, everything felt a lot smoother, with just an occasional big wave giving a sudden violent motion. A short while later, in NE 14-16kt, we're making 6.7kt. I went up on deck to check - often on nearing a big raincloud, the wind drops ahead of it but then comes back suddenly with a vengeance.... No raincloud in sight. Just the bright moon, shining through a gap in the clouds. The wind is up and down but we make good speed. Time to get to my bunk.

Sat 7.30am PDT Red/orange sun rising behind line of broken cloud on E horizon. We're visited by a red-footed booby... Distinctive white bird with black markings on its upper wings . Circling around for quite a time but I couldn't get it framed in the camera...

10.30am Sky has clouded over - grey with a couple of small blue patches. Wind has remained down around 12 kt from NNE and swell has diminished. Ambling along, often headed due S.

Funny how all the days are undistinguished from each other out here - I have to remind myself of the day of the week. For 'normal' people, it being Saturday or Sunday matters - weekends are not the time to contact anyone at work! At least my time zone has remained unchanged - I'm still in PDT and expect to stay in that time zone for quite a time. It's a good thing I keep a regular, handwritten log, otherwise I might totally lose track of the date!

More woodwork repairs to make - galley door top hinge has lost its screws again and as I went to the mast to release the line holding the 1st reef cringle forward, before shaking out the first reef in these light winds, I noticed a strut beside the port gate in the lifelines had lost both its screws - so its back to being carpenter/handyman again today!

1200 PDT - end of Day17. We made 127 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday. Wil be less tomorrow, I'm thinking. Some sun getting out between clouds - gently ambling along still at 5-5.5kt.

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

TIME: 2018/10/20 19:00 LATITUDE: 22-13.26N LONGITUDE: 128-06.83W COURSE: 205T SPEED: 5.3kt

WIND_SPEED: 11kt WIND_DIR: NE SWELL_DIR: NE SWELL_HT: 1.5m CLOUDS: 50% BARO: 1018hPa TREND: 1

AIR_TEMP: 23.0C SEA_TEMP: 30.0C COMMENT: A lot calmer but still rolling a lot... Warming up.

4pm What a wonderful sail we're having just now! We're broad-reaching in NE wind of around 15-18t, making over 6kt most of the time, in glorious sunshine. The sea is that clear, deep, deep blue of the Tropics and the swell is not much and from astern.... No sign of any squalls so far. (They will come soon enough, no doubt!)

Looking at weather files, the hurricane formation off Mexico expected over the weekend and into next week shouldn't affect us directly (fingers well crossed...) - but, clearly, that's something to pay close attention to. The systems are definitely affecting the weather patterns in this part of the Pacific.

In the meantime, I'm just enjoying thoroughly the great sailing of this part of my jouney - it might turn out to be the best overall!

5pm How easy it is to become complacent when running downwind! No sooner had I written that, overlooking the fact that we were now over-canvassed for the increased wind strength, than Fred was overpowered by an unfortunate combination of a big swell that knocked us over coinciding with pointing almost dead downwind at that moment - the mainsail was backed again - we were in 'irons'.... a now-familiar scenario... I reefed the mainsail and then the genoa and got us back on course.

Afer all that, we were still making over 6kt - yet again! I'd really like to get the genoa off the pole, but our course and general wind direction dictate that it stays in use in the shifty winds.

A further problem soon became apparent - the genoa had been flogging from heading upwind in order to reef down and the pole uplift shackle had come loose - the line (& shackle) started flying around madly. Luckily, it caught itself on a shroud and a stowed line, so I was able to grab it and stow it safely - but the pole is now held up by the genoa sheet alone, which will add an interesting twist, although shouldn't prove too difficult (I hope!), to when I come to take the genoa off the pole.

Tea time!

7.30pm PDT Decided to start cooking early - well before the sun began sinking into the W horizon. I'd left it too late yesterday and ended up not cooking at all, although I was quite happy finishing up some nicely ripe Brie on multigrain bread... Had a great meal of gammon, fried eggs and fried, diced potatoes with sweetcorn - all very tasty! I was famished, having missed lunch again.

2a.m. Friday Wind dropped so released all reefs. Not happy with the pole - having unfurled most of the genoa, it's looking quite drunken, with its end far too low down now and held down by genoa sheet and other lines. Will need to furl in the genoa and drop the pole at some point and re-attach the pole topping lift to give it the support it needs to bring it higher.

3.20a.m. Back down below after putting reef back in the mainsail again! That was clearly just a lull - main was backed almost immediately with increased wind of 18kt in the rolly swell conditions. It's presently around 16kt - just 'on the edge'... The hoisting and lowering of the main halyard involved several trips to the mast, both to check that all was free to move and also to tie in the first reef cringle forward to the mast to relieve tension on the sail slide above it. (Sailmakers never seem to read the Selden instructions about placing that first reef point above the boom more aft than the others.) The moon had set, orange-yellow, around 2.30am. Back to my bunk .....

11am We've been sailing in the NE Trades over the last few days. Yesterday, with fewer clouds around than at present (we've almost complete cover), there were clear lines of small clouds along the wind direction.

I found one squid right on top of the hard top over the companionway - they don't usually fly like flying fish so it must have been brought there by e strong wind and rough seas overnight.... We're rocking and rolling a lot in the bigger seas brought on by 18-20kt winds now but we're making good speed - around 6.5 kt..

11.45am Just finished today's clearing up in the galley... Always ends with the 'grand opening' of the galley seacock - good timing needed as we roll from side to side!

1200 PDT - end of Day16. We made 132 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday - better!

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

TIME: 2018/10/19 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 24-16.46N LONGITUDE: 127-31.30W COURSE: 190T SPEED: 6.5kt WIND_SPEED: 19kt WIND_DIR: NNE SWELL_DIR: NE SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 90% BARO: 1019.6hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 21.0C SEA_TEMP: 8.0C COMMENT: Broken cloud. Rolling a lot... 850ml W of Bahia Magdalena, Baja

Wed 6.45pm

Enjoyed a cup of tea and some biscuits earlier. Sat out in the cockpit, savouring the sailing and the seascape - it's been a very pleasant day today, with bright sun and just a few clouds. A few more jobs were struck off my list. Occasional gusts have us suddenly rushing along and the wind does seem to have increased in general this afternoon, so our speed is averaging more than over the last couple of days. I'm seeing 16-17kt quite often - might have to reef down over night...

Now downloading a satellite image of the N.Pacific from Pt Reyes and will get some tropical weatherfaxes for this area from Honolulu later on - all done in real time using the Pactor modem and HF radio. I'm still exploring all sources of weather info available and how best to get it - and when.... Having to set alarms so as not to miss the broadcasts! Once I know which and when is most useful, I can ask for a copy of them from Saildocs.com. They are all made available on the Internet so it's a matter of knowing the URL and sending off the request using my Aurora terminal - makes for a very speedy download using the XGate software, rather than my SSB radio and does not use too much power. I often request at least one via my radio as a back up or try to listen and download in real time.. All in a constant state of flux as I travel on to new regions, so an ongoing process. Certainly keeps me busy!

7.35pm Just reefed down - we're still making over 6kt but with better control. Wind is definitely up again this evening - seeing 18kt now.

It was sunset just before I started reefing and the half-moon is high and, by the time I'd finished, was shining brightly. It will be another lovely starry night soon with only a few clouds around. Venus is shining in the W above the grey-pink post-sunset sky. I shall have a good look later for the Southern Cross - if not visible early in the night, it should be later on.

4.15am Wind died down - and the change in motion woke me up! Let out genoa to help our speed -will wait for daylight to release reef in mainsail - better able to check all OK. Rolling around a bit but motion is a lot less 'boisterous' than it was late last night.

Looked for Southern Cross but Sthn part of sky is either hazy or there's a line of cloud on the horizon - think I might be seeing it but not sure. Stars overhead and elsewhere are bright and clear - Swan (Cygnus) and Vega are overhead.

Back to my bunk after a short radio chat with several contacts on 7163kHz. Seems my new QRZ.com page that Jim, WB2REM, has just set up is getting a lot of visits!

10.15am Enjoying fresh coffee - sailing smoothly enough to be able to make a fresh pot in my Italian coffee-pot - can't risk using that if it's very rough!

1200 PDT - end of Day15. We made 117 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday due to stronger overnight wind... A rather better figure ....at least it's over 100ml.

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

TIME: 2018/10/18 19:00 LATITUDE: 26-21.81N LONGITUDE: 126-45.12W COURSE: 204T SPEED: 5.5kt WIND_SPEED: 10kt WIND_DIR: ENE SWELL_DIR: NNE SWELL_HT: 1.5m CLOUDS: 15% BARO: 1021.5hPa TREND: 1 AIR_TEMP: 22.0C SEA_TEMP: 26.0C COMMENT: Sunny,wind picked up a bit later.Over 700 ml from Bahia San Juanito.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



All content and photos on this website copyright © Jeanne Socrates - All rights reserved world wide except where noted.
Website design, maintenance and hosting donated by One Web Company
Site Map