Once again it was daylight before I even began to think of getting to bed. At around 8am I went on deck to do a final deck check before getting to sleep and was pleasantly surprised by the view. After 2 days of sailing in fog so heavy, that I haven’t been able to see more than 500m from the boat, I was all of a sudden greeted with clear blue skies and fluffy white clouds... It was such a contrast of conditions that I was momentarily speechless.
There was almost no swell and I was still sailing in very light winds of 4-8 knots, so the boat was just gently moving along, as the sun crested the horizon. Days like this have been rare on this trip. It has been over 2 weeks since I have seen the sun directly, rather than a haze through the clouds. I thought I would take 30min and just enjoy it. I had some washing that I was soaking and figured that this would probably be the only time I would get it dry so I turned my safety rail into the close line. As I was doing this I could see dark clouds coming over from the South and figured that the sunshine wouldn’t last too long so I continued to stay on deck to make the most of it.
About an hour later, just as I was about to go below I caught sight of an odd off grey/white towery shape on the horizon. As I stared it occurred to me that I could be looking at an iceberg. Instantly my mind was running away with all that this would mean, from how cool would that be, to the safety risks associated with seeing ice. As all of this was running through my mind the triangle shape started to fade. I was thinking how odd that was and wondered if maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me when a few seconds later there was a blast of water shooting up from the sea on the horizon. Whales... My mystery iceberg was actually the spray from a whale. In the distance, with the light, just for a few seconds looked like ice.
I had been starting at the horizon for over an hour before I saw the first whale spout, but it seemed like I just needed to see one to start seeing them everywhere. They were all in the distance but there were over 20 whales around the boat. I was treated to a friendly visit by a pair of inquisitive ones. They weren’t too brave, as they stayed over 200m away, but they did come over and swim alongside the boat for a time. Unfortunately, they didn’t get close enough for me to be able to identify them but they were about the same size as humpback whales and were off a variety that I was unfamiliar with. I managed a little bit of long distance video and didn’t even try for photos given the distance.
I was just so stoked to have company that even though I was just a little speck on the ocean in the middle of nowhere, I felt nurtured and protected by their presence. The more I watched the more visitors I had as some seals also swam past the boat on their way to somewhere. By 10am the sunshine had already gone as the cloud cover moved over and it seemed all the whales had gone to sleep, so I decided to copy then and do the same. The boat was still sailing in a gentle southerly wind and I was coasting along at 5 knots.
When I awoke late afternoon the conditions were exactly the same as how I left them, so I got to enjoy some breakfast before the winds filled in. By 8pm the winds had veered from the south to the west and were beginning to strengthen. I set about finishing off the manual bilge pump repair and doing my storm sail repair. I knew that there was some weather due later that night and wanted to make sure I was prepared. Once that was done and while I was still sailing in 15 knots of wind I set up the storm jib on the bow ready for action and not a moment too soon. The winds were now gusting over 20 knots and I had long since changed over the head sails from the No 1 to the No 2 jib but now it was time to put the first reef in the main.
Job done and I went below for some food. By midnight the winds were 25 knots gusting 27 knots so I hoisted the storm jib and put the second reef in the main sail. With this configuration, I was a bit slow in the lulls but I was already prepared for the forecast increasing winds. Bobs (METBob) forecast that day has winds of 33 knots with gusts up to 50 knots at times so I know that over the next 24 hours I will be experiencing a blow.
Bob has me going north to the top boarder of 45 South. We will try to keep 30nm away from the edge. The main reason that I need to go so high is that the storm that is passing me today will be generating some rather large swells. By getting north we will manage to get around most of them. The other unintended reason is that we have received the latest iceberg report from C-Core and I was quite surprised that there are still icebergs so far north in this part of the world. I am now clear of iceberg ally, but the latest report still has several icebergs around 50 S and 4 W. I really thought that the rest of the bergs would be further to the south passed iceberg ally, so it is fortunate that I was already planning on sailing NE to get around that swell. Now, we also need to stay to the North for a while until I clear the rest of the icebergs.
Well now I am sailing in 20 knots from the NE but the winds have been building to 28 knots at times. I still have relatively flat seas but I am sure that by tomorrow I will be sailing in the forecast 5-7 meters.