22 December 2013

What the NE Trades lacked in wind is being made up for here in the SE Trades. We sailed fast all last night with a press of wind on our beam. I was up several times in the night thinking we were over canvassed but each time I got on deck and looked around we didn’t seem too bad. Elsi was throwing up arches of spray from her bow from every wave she dipped into and our lee rail was well down.

By late morning though the wind had increased that little bit too much and I had to drop the Genoa and set the Jib. We might have dropped half a knot in speed but we are still pounding along. By the time I got back below I was pouring with sweat. Heavy oilskins in 30ºC heat isn’t a good combination! But it was either that or get drenched. Too much spray around for me to get my hams out but Alyson has been in contact with the producers and they say there should be no problem with them.

We got set farther to the west overnight than I would have liked. The west going current is stronger here but maybe I put Elsi’s bow too far off the wind as well. So, I’ve altered course more S’ly again so that we don’t close on the land too soon. The wind will back around to the north of east as we get farther south but I’ll try to keep a bit of distance between us and the land for the time being.

Our day’s run is 123nm but we are nearer 150nm between noon positions. The current will be responsible for a lot of that. A fine clear day here with blue skies and scattered white cloud. Sunlight glinting off the water.

For a while now there have been fewer contacts available for the connections I need to send these updates for the website. Around northern Europe there is really no problem but as we have gone further south the quality of the signal has decreased the further away we get. It also takes a longer time to send each email with the weaker connection so I’m not sure how much longer I will still be able to keep sending. It might all change as we go further south and open up new contacts but I think there aren’t that many in this part of the world.

Either poor signals or too many people on the frequencies have hampered my contacts with the local Shetland Radio Club as well.  The quality depends a lot on the 11 year sunspot cycle. Right now it should be at a high and contacts should be good. But, maybe the chance of getting a good contact brings more people on air and the frequencies get swamped with people calling up. Whatever the reason it has been very difficult to hear anything from home over the radio for a while now. In 2006, when the cycle was at a low point, the contacts were much better. But there are numerous reasons for good and bad signals, time of day, aurora, interference all play a part and it can be a combination of many things.

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