Passed the Sea Mounds

Evening All,

Yesterday after I finished writing the blog I assumed that I may have another hour or so until the winds had completed their shift from the NE to the WSW, unfortunately that was not the case.  I just kept reading my books and watched another episode of this TV series I have started watching while I waited.  Normally I would be able to get some sleep while waiting however because I was aiming for a gap between two shallow sea mounts I really needed to watch my course and heading and make the best grounds to the East.  The winds kept jumping around from 280 T to 260 T and when the winds were at 280 T I was fine and on track but I would need to fall off course 20 degrees every time the winds would shift to 260 T.  I was already sailing as far down wind as possible and with the following swell occasionally shoving me further down wind. I couldn’t go on a dead run without risking an accidental gybe.  I could have just trimmed for a wind direction of 260 T and left it at that but then I would be sailing off course, so I ended up just sitting by the plotter trying to keep my eyes open until after midnight and I would adjust the course of the B and G Zeus as required.

Finally I decided that as I was waiting for the winds to get to the WSW approximately 240-230 T on the wind direction I gave up my battle with sleep and decided to sail NE as far as I could go and then gybe.  Even if the winds were still slightly to the North I would be high enough then to still lay course and be able to sail okay.  So, at midnight, after having another look at the weather forecast to see when the winds were meant to settle, I finally jumped in bed hoping to catch an hour’s sleep.  I could then get back up and gybe the boat afterwards.  I think I managed about 30 minutes of rest but no sleep before I was back up needing to adjust the heading to suit the wind.  I had now fallen off so far from my course of 095 T that it wasn’t worth sailing in this direction any more so I got my foul weather gear on and went on deck to put that gybe in.

It was just after 1am by this time and the winds were still 25-30 knots.  I had the third reef in the main sail and the storm jib up.  The heavy fog was still around making everything damp and there was a little sea spray as well that I was regularly catching in the face with the air temp of 6 degrees.  The swell was 5-6 meters and from my port quarter, so the boat was rolling heavy as I prepped for the gybe.  Using only my head torch to see by, I gybed the boat without a hitch. It was a little harder than normal but that was due to the awkward roll I had going on from the swell making it hard to balance.  Once I was done I was right back to bed in the hopes that I might be able to get some sleep.

I set the alarm for an hrs time and surprisingly fell asleep.  I wanted to get woken in an hour because I would then be sailing through the 30nm gap between two very shallow sea mounts.  The one to the North was 600m deep and the one to the south was 200m deep, in between them was 1500m deep.  When I woke I saw that my plan had worked the boat was holding course and I was in a nice position to get through the gap. Staying awake for another hour I read my book in bed until I was clear of the sea mounts and the danger or larger waves that they presented.  Finally, at 4am I managed to get a lump of sleep.

30nm away was one last sea mount of 800m deep and I had to make a call at first light to see if I went over it or around it. So in the predawn light I went back on deck and assessed the sea state.  Given how much the boat was rolling around I was really surprised to see that the swell had dropped off to about 3 meters and was of little concern.  I figured that if I was to sail over my 800m deep sea mount that the swell might get up to around 6 meters as it approaches shallow water and Climate Action Now can sail in that no worries…… so I decided to go over it. This allowed me to hold my course and go back to bed, so win win.

I didn’t rise properly until lunch time but I did notice the colder conditions as soon as I left the warmth of my sleeping bag.  The air temp had fallen quite a bit over night and was back to 4 degrees - glove territory.  But there was very little to be done outside this afternoon, apart from my deck check, so I stayed warm in the cabin.  I have been watching the winds closely today as they are due to fall off now that this system has passed me by.  At times today, in the lulls, I would be sailing in 14 knots of wind and then in the gusts I would be getting 30 knots of wind, so I am staying conservative and keeping the sail arrangement as it is until the early hours of the morning when the winds are due to really drop out.  At about 4am the winds are supposed to drop off to 10 knots and below so I will likely be doing a few sail changes then and the winds are also due to swing back from the WSW to the NW calling for another gybe.  So, as it was another night of very interrupted sleep, I am off to bed to try and catch what I can.