Did you ever wonder what the very center of a big Southern Ocean High is like? Probably not but here is our description:
Light winds shifting 30 to 40 degrees in angle. Flat seas. Overcast sky. Obviously high pressure (ours is at 1021 hPa but they get up to 1030 hPa).
We have tried to sail through it since yesterday afternoon. We have changed sails, courses, always keeping an eye on the wind angle and trimming the sails.
But tonight at 0200 AM we have decided to start the engine for the first time since we are underway to NZ. So far we have managed to keep going with the spinnaker, the Code 0, the jib, full main, one reef and 2 reefs.
So it has not been an quick decision to start the engine, but our friends the Grib files tell us so.
The High Pressure System is moving westwards (to our starboard side) and thus facing us with its eastern side. As opposed to the northern hemisphere, here in the South, High Pressure Systems turn anti clockwise which basically means, we will be having head winds (from the S) when we were expecting to cross from the SE winds to the W winds as we were getting through the center.
We do not expect high winds but since the sea can be a bit rough we will motor through the night in order to make good some southerly. At one stage we will then get into SW winds which we will use to sail into NZ but first we have to get through the S winds which we expect to shift by midday our time (GMT +12 hrs) and hope to hit the SW by Monday afternoon.
If the S winds are stronger than expected, we will sail a westerly course to look for the SW, if there is hardly any wind and sea will motor against them.
You will be able to tell what our winds are looking at our course on the pangolin / yotreps website.
By the way, every time we update our position on that website, we send a full array of coded information of the weather at our position : Wind speed and direction, swell height and direction and its period, wind waves height and period, Barometer pressure, trend, clouds and visibility as well as air and sea temperature. That way we take part in the Voluntary Observing Ship scheme (VOS) from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). All this information gets collected from many boats who find themselves in non commercial routes and is transferred to different weather services like the US National Weather Service (NWS) or the french Meteofrance service to study weather patterns where they have no means of collecting data like in this high ocean we are currently sailing through.
Anyway, all is good on board, we are enjoying our passage, may you enjoy your weekend!