Saturday, December 10, 2005

Beautiful day slower progress

It's a beautiful hot, sunny, cloudless day out here. Unfortunately the wind has dropped so rather than making a good 5.5 - 6 knots we're making a more leisurely 4 knots. On the other hand the swell has dropped away so it's possible to sail reasonably well with the little wind there is.

We ran the engine for the first time since leaving Santa Cruz this morning to recharge the batteries so they didn't drop below the magic 50% charged state. It's impressive watching the battery monitor as it shows the engine pumping 100Amps into the battery bank. The combined wind generator and solar panel have been charging the batteries at a measly 2-3Amps net after nav equipment takes its energy toll and during the night the nav lights and lack of solar panel discharges at around 5Amps. The other great consumer is the SSB radio, which when transmitting can use up to 30Amps. Getting this blog entry off the boat can use up all the energy we produce in a day! When we pick up the trade winds off the Cape Verdes, we'll start to use the water generator, which combined with the solar panel should cope with our energy demands without resorting to the engine.

As ever it was a great relief when we stopped the engine and peace again returned to Kika; just the lapping of the waves and the sound of the cabbage rolling around in the locker.

We're currently reaching into a light NW wind. Changing from the twin headsail rig to a more traditional main and genoa configuration took the best part of an hour. It's amazing the infrastructure required to support the downwind rig; with two poles and associated uphauls, foreguys, gooseneck uphaul and downhaul and preventor. Changing all this on a rolling foredeck means we've used up most of our sail changing energy for the day and although we'd probably make more progress replacing the genoa with the cruising-shoot, it doesn't seem worth the bother of an extra 0.5-1knot when we're expecting head-winds tonight and it would only be up for a few hours anyway. Ellen MacArthur's round-the-world record is safe.

Ellen had a dolphin visit during her night watch. Reports abound of other boats catching amazing fish, so I assume we're surrounded by wildlife, just haven't seen any yet.

Position at local noon (13.17 UTC): 21deg 06'N 21deg 04'W.
Daily distance run: 125nm; cumulative distance: 520: Engine hours: 2
Distance to go: ~ 2180nm
Conditions: NW 8-12knots, slight sea, 1010 millibars falling.

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