Again it is still cold, wet and rough out here as the storm is still raging. Yesterday the winds eased back to 25 knots in the early evening but that was before they came back again full throttle at 35 knots. Climate Action Now was handling the conditions well but it was like living inside a roller coaster/submarine. I was expecting the conditions to worsen overnight so finally at midnight I decided to put the boat into the hove-too position. I had cracked down hard off a few steep 4-meter waves and the violence of the crash left me wondering how my mast was still standing so after I had coped a couple of these I decided it was best to play it safe with the finish line so close. The last thing I would want is to have to go through another de-masting near the finish.
Well, it has been a bumpy ride out here over the last 24 hours and it is likely to get worse tonight. It is still raining on and off and the sky is grey with a really messy confused swell that knocks us around. Yesterday afternoon I was debating on if I should shake a reef out as the winds were easing to 25 knots however they were still often hitting 30 knots so I ended up deciding against it and stayed with the third reef in the main and set about making dinner. After dinner I was just passing the time by reading my book, it was really too rough to try to sleep as the autopilot alarms are always going off as I get pushed off-course by a wave so I was planning on a late night.
Well after the dramas of yesterday I was really hoping for an easy night. I half got my wish. The winds continued to build as the peak of the storm closed in giving me gusts up to 37 knots and the steady winds were mostly around 30 knots. It was pouring rain all night making it hard to see and the waves started to become quite large. I was living in the bucking bronco as Climate Action Now would pitch and roll in the swell and the winds would howl through the rigging.
The way the boat is set up you need to pass through the heads to get to the sail locker and I have a large watertight hatch between the two. It is a similar hatch to what you find on deck with the see-through plastic cover. So it was quite a shock when I glanced forward and saw that the sail locker was flooding with water and that there were well over 500 litres already in the boat. Shit. Shit. Shit. This is so not good.
Well after the dramas of the last few days I was very happy to have an uneventful evening. I even managed to get to bed before midnight. The winds last night remained light blowing in from the East at 10-15 knots. I was still aiming to get some more easterly ground covered before the winds backed to the NE and I would start sailing North so I was sailing mostly a wind angle of 60 degrees which was giving me a steady speed and I was able to sail over 100nm to the east before the winds shifted to the NE.
Well, the last week of any challenge like this always seems to be the hardest and things are no different now. That wind that arrived yesterday morning caused havoc all day and well into the night blowing at 35 knots from the South West and kicking up a nasty swell. My autopilot was really struggling with the swell and so at around 5 pm, I went on deck to take a look. I had a steady 4-5 meters but every now and then there would be this incredible set of waves that would come through standing steep and tall at well over 8 meters. There would only be 2 or 3 waves every 30 minutes or so but they were enough to send me into a broach every time and dig the boom into the water. I was sailing with 2 reefs in the mainsail and the smaller jib up particularly furled so I was nicely balanced with the winds but this swell just kept kicking my ass. In the end, I downloaded another forecast and saw that the weather was due to ease at midnight so I went on deck to gybe and decided to hand steer for a while as I could anticipate the swell much better than the autopilot.
Well, it has been another exciting 24 hours with lots to tell. Last night the conditions were moderate blowing at 15-20 knots from the SSW and I was able to make some steady progress towards Tasmania with little effort. After dinner, I completed my normal on-deck checks and started to hear a faint clinking in the port steering pedestal. Any clunking within your steering system is never a good thing, however, I thought that I might know what the issue is as something like this has happened once before.
Well, it has been a busy 24 hours. Yesterday afternoon I had been watching the winds to see when they would shift from the WSW to the WNW so that I could gybe Climate Action Now over to the Port tack. Finally, at sunset, the shift came through. I still had the full mainsail up and the No 3 Jib flying off the inner forestay. As I had been waiting for this shift I didn't waste any time getting on deck and getting prepared for the Gybe. I had been sailing on a broad reach so my sails were right out and I knew that I would need to be careful gybing as the winds were just over 20 knots and I still had the full mainsail up.
Afternoon all. Well, yesterday afternoon in the light winds I ended up getting busy with some jobs around the boat. I need to check if there was any more water in my collision compartment up forward. Thankfully there hasn't been so that was quick. I also sponged the water out of the bilges and I needed to check the main engine that I run of Bio-diesel supplied by Park Fuels in Sydney as this was starting to struggle a little when I start it. I use the main engine as another charging source on the boat and when there is no wind and it is overcast I defiantly need it to keep on top of the power draw that all my instruments have.
Oh, what frustrations I have been having in these light variable winds. Actually, I was quite surprised that the winds held out as long as they did. I was quite expecting the light winds to hit yesterday afternoon however they managed to hang around until after midnight blowing in at 10-15 knots from the WNW before they backed all the way around to the South. I gybed to keep course and was able to hold a heading of 065 degrees in the light southerly winds. It wasn't all a loss as I was still in 7-8 knots of wind which is just enough for Climate Action Now to move along in.