24 December 2013

I was about to take a nap around 2000 last night and before I did I went outside to have a look round. Not too far away off the starboard bow were the lights of a ship. There was nothing on the AIS to tell what it was. We weren’t too far away so I pulled on oilskins and sat outside to keep an eye on things. I could see we were going to end up close together so I altered course to pass downwind of her. It might have been a fishing boat. There was a blaze of lights onboard and she didn’t seem to be on any particular course, almost stationary in the water. We probably passed 3-4 miles from her and once she was past our beam I thought it safe enough to head below again.

The wind had been slowly building all evening and at 2200 I had to take in a reef.
The past few days have been good sailing but always with the risk of getting soaked if you chanced to go on deck without oilskins. Today has been different. The wind is down a bit, there is hardly a sniff of a cloud in the sky and the decks have stayed dry all day. I did a bit of washing, just odds and ends in a bucket and hung them on the rail to dry. With the combination of hot sun and a steady breeze they were dry within the hour.

The magnetism that flows out from the north and south magnetic poles runs in long, slowly curving and constantly changing lines around the globe. But, near here, in the middle of the South Atlantic, they end up coming together in a huge circle that we are just now skirting round the edge of. It’s one of very few places in the world where this happens.
Since we left the UK the magnetic variation has increased steadily from 3º W in the Channel to 22º W here. As we go further south it will start to decrease again down to zero and then go the other way, so that by the time we are south west of Cape Horn it will be around 20º E. It’s something that needs to be kept track of the whole time otherwise you could end up miles away from where you thought you were going.

When I wiped the encrusted salt from the glass cover of the Walker log this noon I saw we were just three miles short of 4000nm.

I’m not sure how easy contacts will be tomorrow for getting an email out so I’d just like to wish every one of you a very Merry Christmas and thank again all those of you who have sent on comments and good wishes.

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