Position at 22.00 UTC, Friday 18th
22 degrees, 17 minutes south
177 degrees, 42 minutes west
Speed over ground 6.1 knots
We're glad to report that the weather is improving. The wind is dropping a little and the seas, though still large, aren't crashing over the deck as frequently. Our tiredness has meant that we have both been able to get some sleep off watch and so life is looking decidedly better. This morning (remember we are 12 hours ahead of GMT / UTC) we have bright sunshine after a wonderful full-moon night but the temperatures are definitely dropping as we move south so fleeces and long trousers were deployed.
We had a minor drama last night with Stormvogel. We were aiming to keep around a mile away from them as we charged along at 7.5 knots when Dianne, on her first night watch, noticed that their course had become quite erratic. She called Heidi on the VHF who said that Trudi, their Hydrovane wind vane steering system, wasn't working properly and Peter was investigating. A few minutes later Peter called to say that one of the large stainless steel bolts attaching the Hydrovane to the boat had sheared off and the unit was moving with every wave, threatening to tear itself off the stern of the boat. We discussed options to put a temporary rope lashing onto it so Peter & Heidi dropped their sails to make the repair whilst we hove to nearby. The lashing looks to have done the job through the night but we are now looking at the option to put into Minerva Reef (100 miles from here so we'd get in tomorrow morning) to anchor in relatively calm water t try to fit a new bolt. Minerva is a bit like Beveridge Reef, where we stopped en route to Nuie, an isolated ring-reef with no real land showing but it's said to offer good shelter from the swell. (and is full of sharks).
Otherwise all is well and the forecast predicts a further reduction in wind and waves so we'll be able to start cooking again. When we left the UK we bought a stock of 'Wayfarer' long-life ready meals (they also supply the UK armed forces) which we first tasted on the Round Britain Challenge. The meals are in foil pouches which you heat up in a pan of boiling water and they taste pretty good; they are ideal for the sort of conditions we've had for the past couple of days so we've sampled most of the range! If we do stop in Minerva Reef, we'll take advantage of the calm to make a batch of chicken curry and some bread.