The last three days in the High pressure system were probably the worst since we crossed the Equator! The sky used to be completely covered with clouds, no sun in sight, virtually no wind and enough swell to keep the boat rocking and the sails thrashing about. The nights were the darkest I have seen! Despite a half moon somewhere in the sky, its light just wouldn't pass the thick clouds. Difficult to sleep as either you are going up and tightening the main sail to prevent it from thrashing about or easing it as soon as you feel a whiff of wind. The autopilot would keep getting confused and start beeping every now and then leaving no option but hand steering. The auto pilot needs the boat to move to be able to steer her, once she stops moving it suddenly doesn't know what to do and starts calling your attention. Also in such light winds with swell the wind vane sensor keeps moving in all directions due to the rolling of the boat, the autopilot tries to follow it for a while and then gives up! These nil wind conditions are definitely more taxing to the boat and the crew than the blustery Trades, as I have started realising from the damage that has been inflicted on the boat in the last three days.
Amongst all the frustations of the "Coldrums" something interesting happened late last night. It was drizzling slightly and I had stumbled out in the cockpit yet again, barely awake, to tighten the main sheet as the boom had started thrashing about. Suddenly felt as if a live 230 V wire had touched my face and I almost jumped out of my boots! How on Earth could I get a shock so strong with the whole boat wired for 24 V. Lightening? But I hadn't seen any lightening since the Equator! Fully awake by now, it slowly dawned on to me that it was static electricity! There is a small strop that keeps hanging from the end of the boom. I keep it there as it comes in handy to hold myself when the boat is healing. The strop was wet with the drizzle and had been swaying around due to the thrashing of the boom, developing a large amount of static which it promplty discharged the moment it touched my face! What a jolt!
After the three dull days, today turned out to be an excellent day of sailing. The clouds cleared and the sun came out finally. The sea was calm, light cool westrely breeze just enough to make the boat move in the right direction and the sun just right to warm oneself sitting on the deck. It was an absolute pleasure to shed the woolens, sit in the sun and do some minor repair work. Plenty of birds around, counted atleast four different types. Its fun to watch them come and sit on the water. As they are about to land they lower their webbed feet and skid on the water almost like a waterskier. While taking off they almost start runnng on the water till they are airborne. Its a pity that it is almost impossible to capture them on camera in a moving boat.