Friday, March 27, 2009

Xplore Punta Arenas to Buenos Aires: 27 March 2009

Upside-down dolphin Of course Xplore is a dolphin -- you try and convince all the hundreds of dolphins that have been swimming and playing with us for the last three hours that we're not !! I'ts just that we are an upside-down one and a bit bigger than them. In their eyes we're just like all of their mates in the ocean: grey body, two fins, likes playing and bouncing off waves, never tires of exercise, and the faster you go the bigger the splooosh and bang when you go into the next wave. Definitely sounds like a dolphin to me! We slipped out of the Straites of Magellan like someone had wiped our ass with baby oil: we got the weather and the currents right and did 198nm in the first 24 hours. Day 2 wasn't slow either: 182 miles which then turned into a glorious afternoon of sun, sun and calm seas (classic precursor to another southerly blow). We had been watching closely this new system and as we scraped our way around the southern corner of the Golfo San Jorge we had confirmation that change once again was on its way. With a lowering cloud base the winds continued to move into the north ... there was nothing we could do but to be ready and make our sail changes down early, keep it easy -- it's going to be a very blowy three days. With four reefs in, number 2 Yankee partially furled and the same for the stay sail, we came to meet this new howler in the early hours of the morning. Xplore when she is tucked up for a blow she is great, "snug as a bug in a rug," I some times say (mind you those who are suffering - whom we call 'bucket heads' - don't quite see it in the same cuddly sort of way I do). We tacked off the inside coast of the bay and headed out into never, neverland (South Atlantic). Within an hour we started seeing the loom of lights out at sea, and Jules and I talked about what type of boats they were. My guess was they were squid boats fishing off the shoals in the bay, they use strong flood lights to attract the squid and then use "jiggers" which are a type of fish hook with many barbs that catches them. We plowed on to the east, trying to bring on faster the break of dawn. Dawn came and the sun squeezed through the myriad of broken wind blown clouds, fishing boats all long gone, a confused sea state still remained to build as were not even over 70 meters of depth. Sea birds are plenty and as this story started the dolphins came to play ! For the sailors out there, we were getting solid 34 to 38 knots of true wind, sailing at 34 apparent we are doing 7.7 knots through the water, a good run for a blowy day. We expect the winds to go further north, and then shift to the NNW and NW and continue to blow for the next two and a half days, with a course to steer of 034 degrees true we should make good ground, touch wood and fingers crossed, as all sailors do. More news coming as we head north and finally feel some warmth for a change Stephen

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