TRANSGLOBE: Challenger crossed the dateline for the 3rd time in one leg

Challenger (ARMY) has crossed the dateline for the 3rd time in 1 leg

The barometer's dropping steadily

After a serious mast track problem forced them to abandon Leg 8 to return to NZ and into Wellington to get repairs done, Becky Walford, skipper on this leg of the Army boat Challenger, and her crew is now playing determined ‘catch up’ to the other two boats in the Exercise TRANSGLOBE fleet, namely Discoverer (lying in 2nd place) and crewed by the RAF, and the current Leg 8 leader Adventure, crewed by the Royal Navy.

Challenger left Wellington to rejoin the Exercise on 19th February:

Day 8: We are currently at 48º04’.733S and 157º40’.637W, making just over 8 knots to the west: the end of our first menu cycle.  The past few days has seen my deck activity as the wind moves around. From astern to the bow, through the bow and now back towards the stern. As well as variable in direction it has been variable in speed as well.

Sunday, we crossed the dateline for the 3rd time this trip and had to adjust the clocks accordingly. We had been 13 hours ahead of the UK and now we are behind and we gained a day.

Monday,  the wind came round to the west, which meant that for the first time we set the pole up and goose winged, putting the mainsail and the foresail on alternate sides of the boat, so that with the wind coming from directly behind the area of sail exposed is maximized, with the wind behind us.

By Tuesday the wind had shifted more into the south, so we had to gybe, i.e. to turn the stern through the wind, necessitating the raising of the other pole and shifting the sail across.  So there has been some sail handling beyond the normal tacking and sail changes, which has been interesting.  The practice all the watches have had until now working together has paid off, in that these configurations have been executed comparatively smoothly and efficiently.

Wednesday and Thursday have seen the wind becoming even more variable, sometimes blowing over 20 knots, sometimes barely blowing at all.  The poles have come down, and the endless dance of changing the foresail has continued.

(I was wondering when food would be mentioned! – Ed)

The bread and butter pudding made by mother watch on Monday was appreciated by Pete, evidenced by his log entry to that effect.  And Wednesday saw the most sedate supper we have had on this trip so far, as the boat was hove to (turned into the wind so that it comes to a standstill).  The reason for this was that it was Stephen’s birthday; mother watch baked a cake (no easy feat on a boat which is heeling to one side, so the batter all tends to slide to one end of the tray), which was decorated with pirate candles and a quite convincing mock-up of Challenger’s sails and mast, down to the markings emblazoned on the mainsail.  It was a most excellent supper.

The barometer has sat at about 1030 hPa for the past few days, but has been dropping today, down to the mid to low 1020s – which means that a significant change in weather is likely sometime soon as we move from one pressure system to another.  The current forecast is for the wind to build in the next 24 hours and we have changed down in preparation.

On the wildlife front, the number of seabirds has decreased, and the species have changed: from larger seagulls and albatrosses to petrels and ‘wave-skippers’, so-called because they descend briefly onto waves and use their momentum to launch themselves off the tops again.  There has been at least one whale sighting (the other one was not exactly clear as to species, but it was definitely some large marine mammal).

Stars in their eyes

When the sky has not been cloudy (and there have been plenty of clouds), the stars have been spectacular, prompting Riki to attempt a three-point fix, using the Moon, Mars and Saturn – and play with his iPhone’s ‘Planets’ app, which not only gives the positions of heavenly bodies, aiding in identification, but provides their altitude and azimuth as well, allowing for a helpful ‘sanity check’ on the sextant readings.  Moley also had his own star-map out, focusing on the stars around Orion (Sirius, Aldebaran), as well as the Orion nebula, which could be seen quite clearly through the binoculars.

LATEST POLLED POSITIONS

ADVENTURE: LEG 8
25th Feb 2010
lat 52.233333 S lng 100.516667 W (Decimal)

DISCOVERER: LEG 8
25th Feb 2010
lat 51.733333 S lng 101.05 W (Decimal)

CHALLENGER: LEG 8
25th Feb 2010
lat 47.283333 S lng 161.933333 W (Decimal)

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