Air temperature - 17 degrees
Water temperature - 19.6 degrees
Tristan Da Cunha was finally rounded at 9.45am AEDST on Sunday 11th February, 2001 and I am now heading east to Tasmania, some 7,200 miles away. Tristan Da Cunha proved a challenge to get around. Last Wednesday at 2.00am AEDST, I finally got breeze with a bit of "grunt". After spending 5 out of the previous 7 nights plus a day becalmed, the SSE at 17-20 knots was very welcome. Over the course of the next 48 hours, it inched it's way with clockwork precision through SE, ESE, E, ENE, NE, NNE, N, NNW with the strength around 20-25 knots and the odd bit at 30 knots. I gybed early Friday morning and had a day of 40 knots from N to NNW with very ugly seas, about 25 feet, as a result of cross swell and wind induced waves. It was not a fun day at the office.
The breeze died off that night and I came on deck to see a boat about 1.5 miles away, dead ahead. I hoisted more sail, changed course to avoid what I presumed to be a fishing boat, as we were close to the 200 mile limit off Tristan Da Cunha. Someone came up on the VHF radio yabbering away. I explained that I was just a young bloke from Belmont and could only speak English (I think he wanted to compare mother-in-law's). I spent 3 hours sailing WSW trying to get away from him and was a bit spooked by it all. In the end he just left. Weird.
For the last 100 miles into Tristan Da Cunha I was in the grip of a 30 knot SW, so I was hard on the wind with a triple-reefed main and #4 just toughing it out. I finally rounded with the same wardrobe up, in the dark, with 40 knot rain squalls. Great!!! How it all changes. Just a few days ago it was 30 degrees, the sun was out, light wind. Now I've dug out the thermals, blankets and wet weather gear for the last 7,000 mile 'test'.
The Shorthanded Sailing Association of Australia (www.ssaa.com.au) have jumped into the breech and booked me for a speaking engagement upon return with all proceeds to go towards the John Hunter Children's Hospital NICU.
Whilst this is a solo effort in so many ways, it is the team effort that will bring me through. Two members of the team are Sue and Alistair Leask. Sue loves books and they are the owners of Pepperina Bookshop in Bolton Street, Newcastle. Sue gave me access to her private collection of books for the trip, while Alistair operates Leask Horticulture and has taken care of our garden whilst I am out here (and prior to leaving). They are champion people and I am proud to say they are my friends.
The journey is now 2/3 complete and as "Sal" and I trek further south into more rough stuff, I now allow myself to think of home that little bit more often. Stay tuned.