Storm Ready

Evening All,

Wow what a day I have had.  I was very late to bed last night and was still on deck messing with sails at 4am. The winds were NE 10 knots and I was making good progress with the full main sail and the full no 1 jib but I wanted to get the storm jib set up ready for a hoist as there was a cold front due in the early hours of the morning.  After I was all set with the storm jib I changed from the No 1 head sail to the No 2 head sail and put a reef in the main sail.  It meant that I was going to slow down but at least when the winds did hit in the morning I was less likely to do damage. After that I fell in to my bunk feeling a bit worn out and tried to sleep.

The hard thing is that when you are waiting for different conditions to arrive it’s almost impossible to rest.  I must have drifted off to sleep because the next thing I know the boat is getting slammed with 35 knots of wind.  I was expecting the winds to increase over a period of time, or at least not jump from 15 knots to 35 knots of wind in the space of a few seconds. I still had the No 1 reef in the main and the no 2 head sail almost completely unfurled.

I don’t think that I have ever gotten my foul weather pants, boots and life jacket on so quickly and within a minute I was on deck.  The first thing that I did was start furling a bit more jib away until it was no longer at risk of getting shredded in the winds.  Next, I set about getting the main sail down to the No 3 reefing point.  As I was doing this I copped a huge wave in the face soaking the left-hand side of my body, including my face and hair.  It was cold, but not too bad. Once the 3rd reef was in the main sail the boat was once again under control.  The conditions can sometimes be unpredictable with a cold front with regards to the wind strength. I wanted to also get the storm Jib up.  I furled away the No 2 head sail completely and then hoisted the storm sail.  Shortly after hoisting I noticed that there were some holes in my brand-new storm jib and realized that it must have chaffed through when I left it on deck for a few days….. bummer.  It was going to be fine to use for the time being however with my forecast of 70 knots of wind the following day I wanted to make sure that I have the chance to change to my spare storm jib later that day.

I wished that I didn’t end up putting the third reef in on this occasion as before I even finished reefing the sails the winds were back to 22 knots and didn’t rise above 27 knots for the remainder of the morning.  The cold front passed over very quickly and within 2 hours the sky had cleared from the even grey clouds to the brilliant blue of summer.  3 hours later and I was back on deck shaking back out to the 2nd reef, by sunset I was back to the 1st reef in the main sail.

As the day progressed I set about my jobs getting 'storm ready'.  The first on the list was getting the drogue out on deck and shackling it on ready for deployment.  I am glad that I did as that thing was so heavy. I struggled for ages trying to get it out the hatch.  It’s so heavy because not only is this a extra strong beefed up series drogue but you are supposed to add a weight approximately 20 kg to the end of it.  When I was in Albany a local gave me 2 sinkers for large fishing vessels so the weight on my drogue is 23 kg.

Once the drogue was all set I then got the spare storm jib out and changed that over, while I was on the foredeck I got a lovely little surprise of a pod of dolphins that came to say hello.  They didn’t stay that long but it was a nice Oman and I just felt happier having seen them. 
Throughout the night, I continued on with my jobs and lashed down the silent wind, wind generator blades and lashed all the lockers inside the boat down so that if the vessel was to go through a roll over the contents won’t go flying around the cabin.  I also spent quite a bit of time getting all the water out of the bilges and removed any non-lashed down items to the sail locker.  I now feel like I am storm ready and will work on just getting lots of rest between now and the morning.

The winds are currently from the W to WNW and I am sailing on a course of 130 True and around 6.30am my time the winds are expected to veer to the North and the barometer is to start dropping.  For the first few hours I should be getting max 40 knots however on the back side of the storm that will hit after midnight the max gusts forecasted is 70 knots. Thankfully the updated forecast seemed to be a little better than yesterdays. 

I have been doing good time though and will hopefully be passing Cape Horn before the peak of the storm, it will be dark though so I will be keeping well clear of land and won’t be able to get the famous Cape Horn photo. Oh well, it just gives me an excuse to sail around the world again...  I am very excited to be finally sailing around Cape Horn even if it is in a storm.