Just Add Hail!

Evening All,

Well when I left you last the debate was happening on if I should get the boat out of the Hove too position or not.  I ended up deciding to leave it until first light the main reason for this was because the winds had moved to the SSW so if I had of started to sail I may have over shot the mark at the restart point.  At 3am in the morning the winds had moved around to SW and then shortly after moved to the WSW direction before finally coming to the West at around 5am.  Given that it was so close to daylight I decided to just wait until the sun was up to ensure that I could see everything around the boat.  I had now had that 4th reef in the main sail for several days so I just wanted the daylight to give me the full picture and to make sure I didn’t start winching on something and it was tangled or wrapped around something else.

At first light in the blue ting of the pre-dawn I went on deck and tacked the storm jib over so that I was sailing again and not drifting in the Hove Too position.  The winds at the time were quite light having dropped off around dawn so it was blowing 20-25 mostly with the occasional 30 knots in there so I also decided to shake a reef.  I prepped all my lines and was about to get started when I noticed a large rain cloud coming towards the boat.  These rain clouds typically have stronger winds just ahead of them so I decided to sit under the cover of the dodger and wait it out.  I just didn’t feel like getting rained on in 3 degrees air temp at sunrise - figured it wasn’t a nice way to start the day.  The rain started and I noticed something odd.  The rain was bouncing?  Hail...  My first hail storm at sea...  Actually….. I think it must have hailed last night as well listening to the sound it makes when it hits the boat.  This hail storm was nothing to write home about expect that it was the first time that I noticed it, it was just little bits of hail that would have been annoying if I was standing outside trying to shake my reef out so i was rather glad to be sitting out of the storm.

The hail didn’t last for long and once it was passed I set about shaking out a reef.  I am now sailing with the 3rd reef in the mainsail and the storm jib is still up.  I did toy with the idea of centering the storm jib and then unfurling the stay sail and running the boat like a cutter rigged yacht however I decided that given I was sailing beam reach and the winds were forecast to increase later that day I would likely get enough speed with the current sail arrangement.  I am here for the marathon not the race.

I wore gloves on deck today for the first time this trip - she's mad you must be thinking - I know I really should have been using them more often but I am simply not on deck long enough for me to desperately need them most days but after the cold burn on my hands from the other day I figured I would give them a go.  They are a neoprene set from Zhik and I am pleased to say that I was able to handle all the ropes quite okay and only found that things like coiling lines took a few seconds longer.

Now that I was sailing again and back inside the cabin I have simply been wiling away the day with some movies.  You may remember that when I left Albany my hard drive with movies on it was left in my friend’s pocket, I was able to rectify this in Cape Town and made sure that I was fully stocked for all the long cold days at sea to come and have since been making good use of them.  Throughout the day I have just been keeping an eye on the course and the wind direction as well as how far I have left to sail to reach the position where I dismasted.  That distance has been growing ever smaller with time and I now have only 60 nm left to run before I can turn NE again.

You may remember that officially according to the World Sailing Speed Record Council that the clock never stopped and has been continuing to run even while I am in Cape Town and that my solo circumnavigation of Antarctica is now considered Assisted as I motored to Cape Town.  Keeping this in mind I never needed to cross my track again however for me personally I want to be able to say that I have completed the whole circumnavigation unassisted (no engine) and the only way to do this is to cross my track to the west of the position that I was dismasted at and carry on with the journey home under sail power alone.  I motored out of the harbour in Cape Town and ensure that the engine was switched off well before my unofficial start line and it has and will remain off until I sail across that finish line in Albany.  At the end of this I will have sailed solo, unassisted with one stop around Antarctica completing a full circumnavigation below 45 degrees South, unofficially or not that will be something to be proud of.

So 60nm and counting I will cross that all important waypoint in the early hours of the morning and turn left for home.

Note - This blog is a little old. Mum was a bit slack and did not put it up at 1.30am when it came through but instead had a sleep in. Consequently she has now crossed the line and is heading east....Yahoo!!