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Week 2 - King Neptune Sees off the Pirates!



On day 7 we left our team as they ran along the coasts of Sierra Leone and Liberia in dark mode, with the satellite transponder and navigation lights switched off and the bridge effectively in blackout mode.

There had been some consideration of whether they were being over cautious, but the presence of the Italian warship and the public declaration of a passing tanker that it was 'under armed guard' told them that their measures were reasonable and appropriate.


The crew did manage to enjoy some nice dark hammock time on the deck ahead of the Doldrums.



On Day 8 Astra approached the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone), which is a low pressure band around the earth, lying near the equator. It's where the trade winds of the north and south come together and because of this it's an area with frequent rain showers and thunderstorms.....and on Day 9, right on cue, they ran in to the heavy squalls of the ITCZ.


On Days 10 & 11, Astra began to pitch more heavily as she encountered the strong SE swell. Direction was adjusted to the South to counteract this a little, but the conditions were (and still are) less than 'comfortable'. This, combined with the strong equatorial current of 2 kts has meant a considerable slowdown from the flying start they were able to make out of the Canaries!


At 01.17 on Day 12 the equator was crossed and at lunchtime King Neptune came for a visit to meet the latest 'pollywog' who dared to cross his middle for the first time - Carlos.

The usual fun, games and ritual pouring of various foodstuffs over his head took place.


The Equatorial current continued to create problems, rising to 2.5 or 2.7 kts at times and causing the speed of Astra to occasionally drop below 5kts.....bobbing along!


After a week of head-on seas, the ETA to St Helena has slipped to lunchtime on Monday 20/12. However, at that point the ferry MV 'Helena' will be on the berth, but the Captain of the 'Helena' has advised that they will vacate the berth early, on their way to Capetown, on Tuesday 21/12 to let Astra in. Both of these ships are managed by Andrew Weir Ship Management and it's the first time they will have had 2 in the port at St Helena at the same time.


Nature Notes : As previously mentioned, the Southern Cross is now well in the sights and Astra's path is occasionally passed by the odd pod of whales! Ascension Island has been passed and it is expected more bird life will become evident as St Helena starts to appear.





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