Last night I was in a little blow with the winds maintaining 30 knots for the better part of the evening blowing from the North. I had put the 4th reef in the main sail before bed and still had the storm jib up so I kept with this sail arrangement overnight. In the early hours of the morning I sailed past the Prince Edward Island. I had no hope of seeing it as there was still a heavy fog around and the island was more than 20nm away but it was the first part of land that I have sailed by since I left Cape Town so it is still exciting.
At around 9am the winds started to ease to 25-28 knots so I decided it was time to shake out to reef three in the mainsail and try to get a bit more speed out of Climate Action Now. We were traveling at 7 knots on average but as the winds kept easing this was falling and while the weather isn’t too bad I wanted to make good time while I could. Once I had shaken out the reef the boat was in that sweet spot where she starts to get little surfs on so I was regularly doing 10-12 knots after that. As I was making good progress, it was lunch time when I had sailed past my next obstacle. In Bobs (Metbob) weather reports he will also list any vessels that show up on the marine traffic website. This website shows all vessels that carry a AIS (ship tracking system) onboard. As Bob see's the whole world and I only get a 25nm range on the boat he shoots me through any information relevant to my area, such as container ships passing by or fishing grounds that I might be sailing up on. It has helped a lot, as I can then clearly know when I am entering high traffic areas.
So for the past week Bob has been telling me about this fishing boat that is 40nm off Prince Edward Island and around lunch time today I sailed past them. I was pretty excited when I saw them pop up on the Ais system on the boat. This is the first ship I have seen in over 2 weeks. (not that I really saw it, just an image on the Ais) Sometimes it is just nice to know that I am not all alone out here in the Southern Ocean. They were only there for a short time as I was more than 20nm to the North of them, but still they were there. After that the excitement for the day was mostly over. The boat didn’t need any more sail changes and the fog remained. The sea temperature has now dropped to 6 degrees Celsius and the air temp as also dropped to the same. It’s not super cold yet but there is a bite to the air that wasn’t there yesterday.
I am still in a front with the worst of it passing over me now so the winds are reaching 30 knots again, only this time they are backing to the WSW from the N so I am running with it on a broad reach so it takes the sting out of it somewhat, but I am unlikely to get much sleep over the next 24 hours. I am waiting for the winds to shift to the WSW so that I can gybe the boat. They have already started backing and are now at 290 T and still moving but I don’t want to go to sleep until the shift is completed. I am sailing low on the wind while I try to make as much ground to the east in the Westerly winds. Basically, the wind is almost completely behind me. This puts me in one of the more dangerous sailing positions because I could accidentally gybe the boat if I get a big shove from a wave the wrong direction. So as the winds are shifting I don’t want to let my guard down and have it shift without me correcting the boats course to prevent that gybe. I think I will stay up until the winds have backed all the way around and I am sailing once again on the Starboard tack.
The other reason is that I am now 60nm from my next obstacle. There is a lot of underwater mountain ranges in this part of the ocean, hence the islands. There are two very shallow ones that I need to sail between. One is 600m deep and the other one is 200m deep. When the swell of 5 meters goes from 2000m to 200m deep it tends to stand up a lot bigger and get quite rough. There is a 30nm gap between the two so it should be fine, but even so I can expect he swell to be messy and likely some mixed currents. I anticipate that I will reach these two sea mounts at around 6 am so I will be needing to be on my game at that time as well. After that point is over there is a full day’s sail until the next island that I need to sail around, so I will have plenty of time to catch up on sleep then.