Warm front approaching

Date: Aug. 16, 2016, 4 a.m. Position: 12 1.19 S, 99 59.25 E

Early this morning we reached our southern waypoint, on latitude with Cocos Keeling. The strategy is that this will allow us a better wind angle when the winds shift more southerly in the afternoon. We ran down the latitude wing-on-wing throughout the morning and into the afternoon. I was a bit disappointed with our speed–still in the high 5s but we need to average 6.2 knots to make the entrance to Cocos in daylight. It was a major concern, and I spent the morning fiddling with the calculator and fretting about our speed. We normally heave-to and wait offshore if approaching land at night, however the winds and seas are forecast to continue building up to 30 knots during that night. We’d rather be sitting in the duck-pond lagoon at Direction Island and recounting our passage, rather than remaining offshore in building seas.

In the afternoon we saw the classic high mare’s tails clouds and a giant halo around the sun–a sure indication that a warm front is approaching. I pulled out my weather books and read up on what to expect. Luckily, the associated low is to the north of us, and in the Southern Hemisphere this means that we are on the side that should experience little rain and not much temperature difference. Despite the lighter winds this afternoon, we kept a double-reef in the main. Kelsey made an excellent Falafel for lunch, our “last supper” at sea she called it, as it will likely be too rough to cook tomorrow.

Sure enough, in the late afternoon the winds shifted 90 degrees to the south and freshened to 18-20 knots. Our routing strategy has paid off, and we are able to hold a beam reach. As the front drags through the winds will build more, but should back more to the SE again, and we can have the winds abaft the beam (more comfortable sailing). The Monitor vane bracket seems to be holding fine for the moment, but there is still movement at the bracket. I’m going to try and stabilize the brackets with hose clamps and bolts when we get to Cocos Keeling. Just keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t have to do hand steering if we have another bracket failure. These brackets are a major weak point on an otherwise robust design.

We’re into the 8s now on boat speed, making “piles of miles” as I’m calling it. With the improved speed, we are targeted to arrive around 1500 hrs tomorrow afternoon, which should give us a good daylight entrance. Fingers crossed!

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