Matilda’s doing a great job

49’43S 39’30W


since 7am on Tuesday morning we’ve been sailing close hauled with the wheel lashed and so Matilda (two bits of rope holding the wheel central) has been steering Elinca. When we’re sailing upwind we can trim the sails so that the boat sails itself. The main sail turns the boat into the wind and the head sails turn the boat away from the wind. By adjusting the sheets, which let the sails in and out, we can get the boat balanced and sailing itself at any angle relative to the wind. When Matilda’s steering there’s not so much for us to do, which can be boring, and so we briefly took Matilda off yesterday afternoon but found that Matilda is doing a better job than a human can (well, except for a good racing helm). Every couple of minutes, a cheeky wave slaps the side of the boat and covers the cockpit in spray and so we’re fortunate to be able to keep an eye on Matilda from the Phuket rather than being on the helm. We’ve got 25 knots of wind from  the north west and so with a tiny amount of jib, the storm staysail and three reefs in the main we’ve been heading due north at 7 knots. The forecast shows the possibility of easterly winds ahead, which would be ideal and take us in towards Uruguay.

Our final morning in South Georgia was much colder with pancake ice forming in Cumberland Bay and snow settling on the ice. We’d just had a few unseasonably warm days of 13 degrees and so the sudden drop in temperature was noticeable. The boat’s remained cold since then and it’s been tricky to warm ourselves up (we can’t use the heating when there’s this much spray getting blown down the exhaust). However, as we’re heading North, we crossed the Antarctic Convergence yesterday afternoon and are now in warmer Atlantic water rather than the cold Antarctic water around South Georgia.  You get lots of nutrients coming to surface at the Convergence and so you sometimes see lots of wildlife feeding but we weren’t so lucky this time. The air temperature’s noticeably warmer but isn’t rising as quickly as we dreamed of and so while “Warm by Wednesday” is true, I think that we’ll have to wait another week for “No Thermals Thursday”.


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2 Responses to Matilda’s doing a great job

  1. Allan Kirk says:

    Why is Matilda called Matilda? Is it from ‘Waltzing Matilda’??

  2. Gemma says:

    Allan, I gave her the name Matilda or Tilly for short as she was the equivalent to our “tiller pilot”. She had originally being called Richard/Dick on the voyage from Ushuaia to the Falklands as Richard Pattison didn’t join us until the FI so there were 3 of us instead of 4 in my watch so we called the strings our 4th watch member, i.e. Richard/Dick then but felt the need for a name change when he arrived 🙂

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