Well in the early hours of the morning the storm started to abate but the swell continued to build until I was rocking and rolling in 6-7 meter waves. I ended up going to bed around 8am and by that stage the winds were averaging 20 knots from the NW. I shook out to the 2nd reef in the main sail and tried to get some sleep. Sleep was elusive and the winds were all over the place, at times I would be sailing in 13 knots of wind and 10 seconds later get slammed by 40 knots of wind causing the boat to round up off course and trigger all the alarms and then 10 seconds after that I would have a happy 20 knots... This repeated its self every 20-30 minutes. I was almost tempted to put the third reef back in due to the strength of the gusts but I ended up sticking with the 2nd reef. Mainly because there was little pressure on it once the boat had rounded up and the fact that the boat would be at the mercy of the waves with the third reef in.
By about 11am the extreme gusting of the winds seemed to stop and I could get some sleep. I had intentions of getting up at 4pm however I over slept and didn’t get up until 7pm... I must have needed the sleep. I was still sailing in NW winds at this stage however as the extreme gusts had stopped I wanted to pack away the storm jib. This was my first task of the day and wasn’t the easiest on,e as the boat was rolling so badly underneath me it was really hard to keep my balance. I was sailing on a broad reach and was close to a dead run at times when the swell would push me a little off course so every wave that passed under the boat rolled me one way and then the other. Eventually and with some wrestling I got the storm jib packed away and the No 2 head sail unfurled halfway. I was still being careful with the unexpected winds...
By 10pm tonight I decided that the winds had abated enough to shake the main sail out to the first reef. I hadn’t seen anything over 20 knots for hours and while I was still doing okay speed, because of the following seas, I knew that the boat could do a little more and still be quite okay. When I was getting all the lines ready to shake out the reef I noticed once again that the running backstay line was caught on a batten on the main sail and would likely catch as I shook out this reef. In an effort to free the running backstay, I winched in the boom. Whilst balanced on the edge of the boat I kept flicking the line until it fell free. While I was doing this however I noticed that the top safety line was a touch looser than normal causing me to have a look aft and forward to see why.
When I shone the light from my head torch forward I noticed right away that there was a problem with the railing. I put off shaking out the reef until I could solve this issue. While all the safety lines were still there they were all sagging, and looking like they were loose or something. The only way this could happen was if the stainless-steel railing on the bow was broken or damaged. I wasn’t too impressed as I had just had a brand-new rail made in Sydney before I left by Watt Engineers, as I had damaged the other one in the last Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. There was not much for it but to go forward and take a look.... As I went forward it was also obvious that the preventer line was looser than normal. A few times while I was sleeping I heard the boom crashing around and wondered how it could move so far as the preventer was tight. When I would get up to check, the preventer line was just a little loose, not enough to worry, more like the line had stretched. So I would snug it up and go back to bed. I never noticed that the turning block that the preventer line ran through had blown to pieces...
When I got to the bow the turning block was just dangling there and the preventer line was caught on the bottom of the pull pit (the bow railing) leg, only the pull pit leg was no longer attached to the deck. The M5 bolts that attached the stainless-steel frame to the boat had all sheared off at the deck causing the railing leg to bend backwards at a 90-degree angle. Bugger. Not exactly what I would like to discover with still a fair few miles left to sail. At least the rest of the rail appeared to be in good shape and the safety lines were all still attached. The first thing that I needed to do was to replace the preventer turning block to take the pressure of the safety rail.
Once that was done and the boom secured I ran spectra lashing that has a 2-ton breaking load from each safety line to a strong point at the base of the forestay rigging wire, I also re-tied the rail down to a padeye on the deck and to the opposite side railing for extra support. The forestay rigging wire is one of the strongest parts of the boat and with each safety line now tied to it I was no longer relying on my compromised pull pit to support my weight. There is very little that I can do about the bent leg and will need to wait until I get to Albany to fix that one, but at least now the safety lines are still secure and all the supports for these around the boat are uncompromised adding to the safety. I also added loops of spectra around the turning blocks in such a way that should another block give way the line is unable to reach the pull bit and do any further damage so I should still be able to use the preventer like normal. All in all, not the end of the world, but it will be an expensive repair.
Following these repairs and while I was on the go I also re assembled the manual bilge pump. I am pleased to say that it works a charm this time around and my repair patches have stuck really well. I also have had the first freeze dried meal in days. I was getting creative in the light winds and making other meals but now it’s back to the regular meal plan. They aren’t bad meals but they are all quite similar, so my taste buds need a change up every now and again.
It is now 6am on the 27th and the swell has reduced a touch. The winds also seem to be dropping off however there are some really random gusts still coming through, like the 30 knots I received a few minutes ago, after hours of nothing over 15 knots... I also needed to gybe a few hours ago, as the winds swung to the west, but they are due to back soon and I will be then able to gybe again, before making a steady course of directly east. I may look at shaking out that reef after all so that I am sailing with the 1st reef in the main.