03.01.07 – a following breeze at last

The speed with which weather systems roll past is remarkable. Weather comes rushing through, we get tossed about, get wet taking in sails, go below and dry off, take seasick pills, sleep, get up reluctantly to pee, then sleep some more. Then it starts all over again. Fun, hey?

Last night’s NZ forties sailmail forecast had a cold front due to reach us by noon today. All morning it has been visible as a roll of cumulus approaching from the SW. We have had no wind and a rising barometer. By 1130, as I watched, the front overtook us on our southern side, while astern stretched a continuation of the clear skies above. A blocking high. I expect that is what happened the night before last, when the previous predicted front failed also to materialise.

Dave has been completely out of action, thanks to Ken Burns’ Civil War DVD. I feel like a guilty mother keeping a restless child occupied with TV. I’ll have to ration the next 4 discs so they last him the distance.

Lunchtime and still no wind. We can’t motor forever – indeed we’ve only got 2 days’ engine left in us. We put up the big, battened mainsail and prepare the big coloured bag.

This bit of ocean is really huge – it just goes on and on. And empty? – you’d better believe it. Apart from 2 gadfly petrels deeply in love, even the seabirds have abandoned us. I wonder where they’ve all gone, and why. We’re through our fresh food except for ginger, a few unions and lots of spuds. Cooking creatively is a growing challenge. Dave thrives on his red wine and cigarettes, but it’s a crisp fresh Gala apple I miss most.

Then, at noon, a magical SW 15-20 kt breeze came just in time to save sanity. An excellent sail today, with poled out staysail, yankee and full main. We repaired the boom track. Dave did CD 2 of Ken Burns.

The breeze freshened through the day, with successive sail reductions to double reefed main and staysail, by sunset.

It’s just 1 rib that’s broken, I reckon. The difficult bit is learning what will hurt, so as to avoid doing it. Moving around carefully is OK, but coughing, sneezing, twisting, hiccups, talking loudly? – no, no, no. They each cause this painful, grinding click which is palpable, if not audible. It’s getting better fast, thanks to necessity, 3 Panadols + new wonder drug called Prexsige (probably just Brufen for 3 times the prix) every 4 hrs. Sneezing is dreadful and I hate the prospect of seasickness. What a way to learn medicine. I thought only patients broke ribs.

I’ve got photos of the boiling water burns to the thigh earlier that night, but nothing to prove the rib pathology. The salt air is great for recuperation however, and all will be but memory in another 48 hrs.

I’m sick of the sea, sea sickness, dampness, no apples, no Chris, no daughters, no family. We’ve just 1788 miles to go. At 140 miles per day, that’s…

We’ve been in the Southern Ocean for 21 days and we still haven’t had a single molecule of breeze from the west. Is this a record? The prevailing wind for the last few days has been from the NE. Tonight we’ve got NNE 25-30 with rain and a lumpy sea. We’re romping along the 41st parallel at 8.5 knots with Paul Simon, steady rain, lashings of spray but no slamming yet. The barometer is dropping slowly but we don’t get much sense from the high seas weather reports from Taupo Maritime – there are just too many pressure cells, ridges, secondary fronts, developing lows. All moving in odd directions. So we assess our weather by the dingo’s breakfast method – we pop out the main hatch for a quick piss and a look round. Then back to bed.

The biggest improvement on board since the Macquarie Island trip has been a plastic drip deflector which we lash round the mast in the saloon. Re-setting it every time we tack is just one more thing to do, but it is well worth the effort. The saloon cushions now stay dry. By the way, Dave reports that the forehatch doesn’t leak – Ian’s elegant silicone work is holding up well.

The other day Dave cut his finger (not badly), slicing onions. Then I saw a piece of kelp. Yesterday I washed my hair.

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