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All posts in February, 2014

There is a strange mixture of light, gusty and strong wind; rough,idle and lumpy seas in this Southern part of the Pacific. Lumpy seas and being battered ahead by strong winds one day, followed by no wind and sails flogging listlessly the next.

Andrew, at times, feels it as one good day followed by two not so good days.  However for us, following him via the log and with the advantage of actually viewing their advancing progress on the “Latest Position”; we can see Andrew and Elsi slowly but surely edging towards the warm Trade winds and a more predictable passage Westwards.

Yesterday they had a good run and managed to gain 50 nm in the right direction – which whilst fighting Nor West winds is no mean achievement.

Andrew spoke with his daughters, Shaela and Mareel this evening which was a big boost for him; the messages from friends and supporters also continue to amaze,  surprise and cheer him.

Good sailing during the night left some disappointment when the wind died later today.

At the moment there is lots of motion in the sea but very little movement ahead.  Getting much done, for instance writing is difficult with the constant motion – the log has been written in just brief starts.  It will get much easier when further into the Pacific with steady winds blowing.

Oatmeal again for breakfast and fresh pancakes later.

It has been too rough to use the hand water maker and so today’s rain collection off the boom was a bonus for the fresh water tanks. Each day is spent keeping prepared for the next gale in these latitudes; further North will hopefully provide more relaxed sailing.

The weather is definitely cooler for Andrew where he is and today he had his first bowl of  oatmeal for breakfast.

I was telling him that apparently today is National Toast day;  he groaned whilst admitting that he would love some bread at the moment. Unfortunately the temperature is too cool to allow the bread to rise – so he is resigned to waiting until he climbs a bit further North before beginning to bake yeast-based bread again.

The Aerogen – wind generator is again rigged up which is really good as it means Andrew can keep the batteries topped up, something he is always keen to do.

The next wee while will be a slow zigzag up into the higher latitudes of the Pacific; reliable Trade winds, warm sunny days and hopefully successful fishing.

The sailing was good earlier on today but later the wind got up and is now quite strong, so, for safety, the sails are down and Elsi is hove to.

Hopefully this won’t be for long as the stronger wind will be passing through in a few hours.  The wind direction isn’t ideal (North Westerly) but Andrew thinks they will be able to make something of it.

He is beginning to feel they are making two steps forward and only one back which is pretty much what they need to be doing – keeping a step ahead if possible.

“We had a really good run since yesterday” – it was great to hear Andrew saying this tonight; they are certainly not out of the ‘woods’ yet, but Andrew and Elsi are certainly moving in the right direction, at last.

It has been a really trying two weeks of head winds and little forward movement. Although the log suggested they had covered 93 nm noon to noon, Andrew suggested it is more like 116 nm if plotted on the chart.

 

The gale which Andrew rode out over the last couple of days have cost him about 4 days headway he reckons.  Even so he is clear he made the correct decision to move North out of the path of the centre of the low and the highest winds.   Elsi never has been able to make any headway against headwinds which means the prevalent North Westerlies restrict Andrew; he cannot steer her in the direction he would ideally choose to go in which is North Westerly!  However, at the moment he is able to take a Westerly course at last with an Easterly wind and for a few hours soon, he will also have the advantage of a Southerly wind.

Andrew pushed Elsi as hard as he ever has last night, keeping sails up as he pressed on North.  He kept the Stay-sail up where he said he really should have lessened the sail area and put up the Storm jib; but he was keen to sail North away from the strong Storm centered just about where he had been this time yesterday.

He now has the sails down, all snugged away ready for the storm which is already building.  He is really hoping he doesn’t drift too far Eastwards back onto his track.  He also is keen to take advantage of rare Easterlies and Southerlies for the 48 hours after the South West storm has blown through.

I mentioned to Andrew he now has his own wee section on the Shetland Libraries website; giving details of the books he has been reading and approximately where he was reading them.  He was highly impressed, flattered and tickled by this.  Its worth having a look at the eclectic selection Andrew has already read, of the 100 or so books he has on board –  ‘Elsi Arrub-reading round the world’ can be seen at www.shetland-library.gov.uk/ElsiArrub.asp  Thanks Karen for doing this.

 

According to Andrew this evening, “Today was not too bad; from noon yesterday to noon today we traveled 40 nm in the right direction”.

The weather however, Thursday afternoon, is building into some pretty fierce winds just to the south of where Elsi is and so Andrew has decided to turn North to try and avoid the height of the Storm.  It will be just south of their current position (57° 11’S  70° 30’W).  He also hopes to take of advantage of Southerlies backing on Saturday and Sunday.

He has managed to spend some time relaxing and  reading today, thoroughly enjoying “The road to Nab end” by William Woodruff.

Last night the wind didn’t come up as much as Andrew thought it would; he had reefed the sails right down and laid in his bunk for a few hours,  but later thought he could have had more sail up.  In the South Atlantic waters he is sailing in, he feels it is better to be cautious.

Just as we were about to speak about the forecasts for the next few hours and days, Andrew trying to make notes of the wind speed and direction, the wind all of a sudden started to pick up.  The Sat. phone connection was very poor and kept fading in and out,  so we were in the midst of a frustrating non-conversation, me shouting louder and louder from 60° North, as if Andrew at almost 60° South could hear me more clearly, when all of a sudden the phone went down.

While we were disconnected Andrew had to alter the sails to cope with the increasing wind; we were able to speak again for a few minutes, enough time for me to pass on the forecasts, which Andrew was again trying to write down whilst coping with rapidly growing, lumpy seas.  Before we signed off, Andrew asked me to pass on his best regards to the registration Class S6 at Northfield Academy in Aberdeen, who have been following his progress since crossing the equator.

Heading down to 57° South, Andrew is noticing the temperature dropping; not quite as cold as Burra first thing (1.5°); but a fry up of beans and bacon grill at breakfast helped Andrew to ward off the cold in the South Atlantic.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), will mark 100 days since Andrew and Elsi left Falmouth.  Calculating the number of messages sent via the website since he left, the support has been almost 4 messages for every day he has been away, which is incredible and certainly heart warming for Andrew.  He never expected so many people to be keeping track of him and keeping him in their thoughts.  So, thank you to all who have contacted and sent Andrew messages, but also Thank you to all those who we know are thinking of him constantly.