Throughout last night the winds continued to fill in and by 10 am there was a consistent 20 knots of wind from the North gusting up to 25 knots giving me the motivation to climb out of bed and put the second reef in the main. It was another grey overcast morning but given that there has been some light winds there wasn’t much of a swell. The boat was handling well with the second reef in and the no 2 jib even though the winds kept building.
By 8pm tonight I was sailing in the forecast cold front that was passing through. These fronts are often short in duration with a small peak of strong wind followed by easing winds right after so I was less inclined to shake a reef out only to put it back in again. In steady 27 knots with gusts of 31 knots, this is right on the edge of the wind range of the current sail set up, so I was watching the instruments closely. Once or twice I saw short bursts of 35 knots but they didn’t stay, however when I saw 37 knots I knew I needed to get the third reef in the mainsail.
The ropes had other ideas. As I started to lower the sail to put the reef in I noticed that inboard end of the reefing line was tangled around my spinnaker pole. The spinnaker pole is stored along the front of the mast and the line had just managed to catch the top of the pole and trap its self. This is about 5 meters of the deck so not so easy to clear. By the time I had noticed, I had already lowered the mainsail past the top of the spinnaker pole. So, after some unsuccessful attempts to flick the line free, I realised that I needed to re-hoist the main sail until the line was up above the spinnaker pole…….. Basically, start again.
So, I winched the sail all the way back up and finally managed to shake the line free. That done, I was able to lower the sail to the third reefing point and tension up the luff of the sail. When I went to take in on the outboard end of the reefing line I noticed that the line wasn’t pulling from the right direction. It looked like it was caught on a part of the sail... I needed to pull in on the boom enough to be able to reach that section of the sail and go to the low side of the boat and free the line.
Going to the low side of the boat when you are sailing up wind is one of my least favourite things to do. It’s risky, because if you get a wave or a gust of wind the boat can lean over so much that you are suddenly underwater. If you have a bit of speed on you can very quickly find yourself getting washed down the boat. I had learnt from experience to be cautious of that part of the boat, however the line wasn’t going to clear its self.
Clipped on I ducked to the low side. Trying to be as quick as I could, I leant out over the rail twisting my body in an awkward angle to reach the tangled line. Finally I was able to free the line. A batten had gotten caught the wrong side of the reefing line. Had I winched on the reef without checking, I would likely have damaged my main sail. Now that the line was free I ducked back into the cockpit and sure enough, 10 seconds later we were hit by a bigger wave. The whole of the low side was submerged under water……… timing is everything.
Finally I was able to finish the job and get out of the howling wind that insisted on showering me with sea spray. Once back inside my warmer cabin, I tried to defrost my hands and wipe the salt crystals from my face. With not much else to do I settled in to some reading while I waited for the winds to ease. As expected an hour later and the winds started to rapidly decrease in strength and shift from the NNE to the NW. The brunt of the front has passed.
Now I am sailing in 13 knots 2 hours after I needed to put the third reef and now need to get on deck to shake out all the way to the 1st reef... Given that I am shaking out 2 reefs in one go it will be a long process taking me a bit of time. I will likely need a good rest afterwards. The winds are forecast to drop out to nothing tonight and by the morning i should be drifting around in 5 knots again.
In other news, I would like to do a shout out to Matty from Glebe Elementary School in Arlington Virginia USA. I have just gotten word that his class has been learning all about Point Nemo and was talking about my trip at school. Matty please say hi to your classmates for me. It amazes me how far my trip has reached. Tracey from Twentieth Letter posted a question on my facebook page asking those who are following my record attempt to let us know where they are all from. It was astounding to see how many different countries people are watching me from, all around the world. So, a big thankyou everyone for simply following my journey and sharing in the highs and lows with me as I complete my quest to become the first women to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica.
P.S. I thought I would share the original video footage used for the sky news story so you can hear the storm as well.....................pretty scary in the middle of the night 2000 miles from anywhere.