Friday 25 March

Day fourteen(ie yesterday) proved to be one of complete contrasts. After the brilliant noon to noon run the wind that had borne Temptress almost 150nm through the water died away slowly. The early watches of the night were all about trying to keep the sails filled in a fickle breeze that swung lazily from E to SE and back again sometimes four knots true sometimes eight or nine. The UK met office term of ‘light variable’ about summed it up.

From buoyant spirits crew moral slumped low as both sails were stowed around 1am. We unanimously decided to bring forward the hour’s battery charging to now and use it to prudently motor slightly east of south; partly for the sake of making some progress but mostly because the big bank of cloud that stretched across the southern horizon was lit up internally from time to time by lightening at various points along its length to the south and west. No way did we want to add a thunderstorm to our woes if we could avoid it (as a precaution a GPS, myiPad and our phones were placed in the oven). And if the wind ever filled in again it would do so from the south east, heading towards the new wind is always a good racing tactic.

Well we were right on the former menace which took itself off out of sight but wrong on the latter. We tried to get some sleep as Temptress rocked and jolted. I have come to the conclusion that sleeping in these conditions is akin to eating cheese, it brings on the most vivid dreams and you wake feeling emotionally drained but can’t remember what on earth you were dreaming about.

Just after dawn a light shower and its attendant cloud brought some wind first the gennie and after breakfast the main were put to use again. Two hours later they were stowed and Temptress drifts once more on in an ugly three directional swell. Its enough to try the patience of a saint and the skipper has had his fill of Pacific “sailing”. The Atlantic crossing was so much easier – put in the third reef, point at Grenada and go; six, seven eight knots all the way across. This extract from Miami’s forecast from yesterday sums up the horrors of the swell succinctly (24 hours is today, 48 hours is tomorrow):

.24 HOUR FORECAST W OF LINE FROM 03.4S98W TO 11S90W TO 18.5S96W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 10 FT IN MIXED SW AND NW
SWELL.
.48 HOUR FORECAST W OF LINE FROM 03.4S99W TO 08S92W TO 18.5S87W WINDS 20 KT OR LESS. SEAS 8 TO 11 FT IN MIXED SW AND NW SWELL.

CONVECTION VALID 1000 UTC WED MAR 24…

.INTERTROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE/MONSOON TROUGH…

ITCZ EXTENDS FROM 01S96W TO 01S110W TO BEYOND 01S120W. SCATTERED MODERATE TO STRONG WITHIN 150 NM OF AXIS W OF 114W.

Still we sail a bit, we slop about a bit; always hoping to catch a passing cloud. Mid afternoon we managed to sail for less than an hour before being becalmed once more. The early evening after supper Temptress was moving along albeit very slowly under full genoa in a F2 from the ESE; a bit to much south to keep the pressure in the sail but it was movement. Almost complete cloud cover so few stars and no moonlight. Could be a long dark night.

Dinghy Update;
As something to pass the time this morning we uncovered the dinghy and turned it over; not a simple task on the randomly moving foredeck. A seam has opened up on its starboard side below the rubbing strake,on the waterline. Its a hole about an inch long. The two unopened bicycle repair kits are going to come in handy though we’ll need to find a piece of thin rubber larger than your average puncture but its not a job for now as it’ll need clamping for 24 hours whilst the glue goes off to ensure it sticks. A job for the anchorage in Hiva Oa.

Noon to noon: through the water 60nm over the ground 97nm
Noon position: 04 14.51S 103 24.16W