The Woman Who Sail Australia Gathering

So, last night I went to sleep with winds 20-25 knots from the NW occasionally dropping to 16 knots.  I went to bed at lunch time planning on getting up at midnight.  By 5pm in the afternoon I woke because the boat was feeling really sluggish.  When I glanced at the B and G Display I was shocked to see the winds at 5-7 knots...  I was meant to be sailing in 20-30 knots not 6 knots...  This was a huge bummer because I knew that this was a temporary shift and I would soon have my wind again, but I couldn’t just roll over and go back to bed knowing that the boat was sailing at 2 knots in 7 meter swell, something needed to be done. 

Normally I would have the full mainsail and the full no 1 head sail up in those winds and I would be able to make 5 knots in the light winds however as I knew that at any moment I could get a major gust of wind I couldn’t do my normal sail plan.  I also wasn’t too keen on winching all that sail up just to put if down again an hour or two later...  I compromise with myself and ended up shaking out to the first reef and putting the No 2 head sail out with one tuck in it.  This way I would have a bit more control of the boat in the swell and if the winds suddenly gusted in the high twenties then I would not be risking the sails.

With that job done I went back below to go to bed but before I fell asleep I also set a high wind alarm on the B and G Zeus.  Two and a half hours later and I woke up to the feel of the boat actually sailing.  The winds were back and blowing between 16-22 knots.  With the first reef in the main sail and the No 2 jib up I could have held the sail as they were in those winds but I had a feeling that now there was wind I would likely get my strong gusts again. So, to be safe, I decided to put the No 2 jib away, so I was just on storm jib and put in the 2nd reef in the main sail. Sure enough, just as I was packing away the last of the lines several gusts of wind came out of the heavy fog, bringing winds over 27 knots, so my timing was perfect.  In the drizzly rain.  I retreated down to the warmth below. Given that I was now quite cold, I re-heated my luke warm hot water bottle and tried for some more sleep.

I didn’t manage a good sleep that night but slept in snatches where I was either woken by the off-course auto pilot alarm, or the high wind alarm, or simply because my bed started to lean precariously over giving me the feeling that I was about to be tossed out of it. My whole body would tense and brace.  Needless to say, I wasn’t really wanting to get out of bed that night. I lay there in the warmth of my sleeping bag, remembering the last time I had a full night’s sleep .It was on dry land... 

I then remembered that I had an important date today. I was having a satellite call with the Women Who Sail Australia (WWSA) group.  WWSA is a group of lovely women who were brought together via facebook and now hold an annual gathering on the bay.  I was present at the last one so it was nice to be able to do a Q and A session with the ladies.  If you are interested in finding out more about the group, as a female sailor, you can find them on facebook.

MUM - I went down to the WWSA Gathering in Port Stephens,  and I must say that I had such a great time.  The guest speakers were fantastic.  So many had done so many amazing and  trulycourageous trips and had amazing stories to tell. Others had lots of tips and advice. The people were so welcoming and inclusive. This group of woman are truly special. If you are a woman and into sailing, or thinking about it, you will find a lot of support of all kinds here. They did a live hook up with Lisa (they all love Lisa) and we all cried.  I had only been talking to her 10 min before and I was fine, but there, with everyone else getting emotional there were quite a few of us with tears streaming down our faces. Not sure what I am going to be like when she crosses the finish line.

With my new day began at midnight I had a chance to look at the weather report.  The barometer was expected to fall and I would be experiencing winds averaging 27 knots with gusts potentially in the 40-knot range and lulls in the 20's so it was a nice surprise when I only copped the odd 30 knot blow. I had a steady wind around 20-25 knots.  l kept the No 2 reef in the main and the storm jib up, but it definitely took the pressure off the boat. 

On the other end of the scale, the swell is doing a really good job of preventing Climate Action Now from going in a straight line.  I believe we have sailed twice the distance today with all the zig zagging.  There is an ocean going swell from the SW but then on top of that is the sea state that is short and choppy, so we end up getting shoved by one just to get pushed back by the other.

Lucky for me the swell has a long period so they are fat rolling waves rather than the steep inshore kind, so even though there is over 5 meters of swell here the boat is coping okay.  In Bobs (METBob) latest email he said that there is a low behind me at 50 S that is generating swells greater than 9 meters in the latitudes of 45-48 S so we are now doing a flyer to the South to sail below this incoming swell.  I am very appreciative of this plan as I think 7 meter swell is large enough and while I still find it very beautiful to watch the larger the swell the more I will get shoved around.

I am now only 65 nm from passing the Cape of Good Hope off South Africa.  I will not be seeing land as I am more than 800nm to the South of Africa. Over the next few days, I will be also merging out of the Atlantic Ocean and into the final ocean to sail across, the Indian Ocean……. So, a few milestones of the trip are here.