Good afternoon – Beetle today is beam reaching in 18 knots of wind headed due south towards the equator, some 468 miles out in front of us. I hope the yellow line is there so we will know when we’ve arrived.
Current conditions are 100% cloud cover, low scudding clouds with intermittent rain underneath, a smoothed out sea state – partly because the swell is coming in from the beam now rather than behind.
Last night was entirely consumed in fighting with squalls, they want to squash you, you want to run away. Last night they mostly won, though we did get away from a couple. Also had lightning to the water, that was first time I’ve seen that! That was in a single big squall with the classic two extending arms, advancing in our direction but not directly at us (we scamper off at about 30 degree angle to the squall’s advance), and then a brief glow from one arm, about 40 minutes a big flash and bolt from the main cloud shot down – yeow! I checked on the radar, that was about 10 miles aft of us.
I unplugged the computer and Iridium device, we turned off most of the instruments, and carried on.
Come morning we’d had a pretty ragged night, including the 45 minute gybe in 30 knots of wind and rain – that got us out stage left away from the worst of the squalls, and we scooted away to the south. Of course we then sailed into another set of big clouds and had 3 hours of rain. The plan had been to look for lighter air to take down the twin headsails and hoist the no. 2 genoa, only the wind was too windy. As an alternate plan we elected to put the motor in gear and slowly head south (the engine was running already, charging batteries, I just went back and engaged the transmission). Three hours later we were clear of those big greynesses with tons of wind in them (max wind 40 knots inside the squall, enough to flatten the water and reduce visibility rather a lot).
Jack has been busy organizing the boat, everything is neat and tidy and stowed – pretty amazing. I’ve been chasing autopilot ram testing with Chris at Alpha Marine – this afternoon was extract the ram and get ohm meter readings, which I did and now know the ram has ‘lost center’ as regards knowing when it is on center. Next up is to open up the aluminum housing that holds the PC boards and very carefully remove two of them, check connecting pins, and reassemble the first board (leaving out the top one, the one that connects to Stan’s software). I will look that later on tonight.
So I’m back to sleep for a while, radio net is in 75 minutes, we’ve got good rain outside, Jack is sitting in the companionway staying dry and managing the sailplan and course.
Current position 6 deg 47’N x 130 deb 36’W, speed 7.0 knots on course 180T.