Marcin, our 2nd Mate aboard Lord Nelson on this voyage, has given us two talks on the weather in the Southern Ocean. He has explained that low pressure systems develop on the fronts where the warm tropical air meets the cold Antarctic air. These low pressure systems have winds blowing clockwise in the southern hemisphere and travel West to East from New Zealand to South America approximately along latitude 50 deg South. This is the reason that Captain Chris has been plotting a course for Lord Nelson sailing in the Westerly winds north of these systems, approximately latitude 45 deg South. Thus most days we have had winds NW/SW, 15 to 25 knots (gusting 30 knots) giving us daily noon to noon distances sailed in the order of 150 NM with SOG of 5 to 8 knots.
We have had a gale gusting 45/50 knots with only the fore topsail and inner jib set. We have had light winds with all sails hoisted including the upper spanker and flying jib. We have been becalmed with an albatross swimming alongside in the mirror waters. We have been headed with SE winds and had the yards super braced in order to sail 60/70 deg close to the wind.
Today we have 1200 NM to go to Cape Horn and are sailing a course of 140 deg with NW winds 15/20 knots and SOG 6 knots.
Last evening Port Aft watch had the first sight of the new chart, and it has land on it! Off to the right hand side, is a chunk of Chile and a sliver of Argentina; whilst at the bottom is a whole lot of Antarctica. Chile looks enticingly close until you realise that the scale is 1:10,000,000. But inexorably we are making our way nearer to land and the pleasures of Ushuaia.