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Ocean Planet in the Around Alone – Update
Monday, March 17, 2003 1300gmt
Position: 22 16 S 36 05 W
Wind: NNW at 15-20kts
Heading 038T at 9kts
Pressure: 1012mb


Hi all,

The wind is picking up resulting in a noisy, rough slog to windward. But at least it’s relatively steady compared to yesterday where we played thunderhead pinball tacking back and forth on windshifts and working around some pesky rain squalls. These were tricky as they were not moving with the gradient wind, but rising and falling like giant pistons and forming diagonally across the wind. At least there was not much lightning, which I love to watch on land, but hate to be near at sea!

The wind sometimes changes dramatically around rain squalls and they have different effects depending on the stage of the cloud development. If they are really big you just need to be far away, but the smaller ones can give you several miles advantage if you play them right. Late yesterday, I discovered that the best shift seemed to be to windward of a forming line of them when usually it’s better to leeward. It takes a lifetime to really get them right, but yesterday was great practice and was actually fun since they weren’t nasty.

At the end of the day, I got a nice shot of a small (manageable-sized) one that we cut to windward of just as the sun went down and illuminated the upper high-altitude part of the cloud. You can see the low dark clouds at its feet. Often these block out the view of the towering anvil above unless you are far away, but on this one the view is fairly clear. I think at the time of the shot we were 4-7 miles past it as it slipped away behind us.

By the way, going back to our pre-Cape Horn crash jibe that broke the boom, I’m pretty sure it was the high angle of the knockdown that preceded the gybe that exceeded the operating angle of the special compass that guides our autopilot. After talking with my dad on the satphone (the guilty party for getting me involved in sailing in the first place), he came up with a simple yet smart solution: take the compass mount and put it on a slightly dampened swinging gimbal on the bulkhead (wall) where it is mounted. This will hopefully keep the compass from “digitally crashing” in a steep heeling situation. I did this while in Port Stanley in the Falklands and all we need now is get hit by a big wall of breaking water from the side while surfing at 15+ knots and test it out… 😉

Later for now
Bruce and Ocean Planet and crew


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