Last night the conditions were anything but steady. There was a Southeast belt of wind on the left and a northeast belt of wind on the right of a wind hole. The wind hole showed as long and narrow on the grib files. In the early evening, I was sailing in the Southeast winds waiting for the predicted shift to the North East to occur. The winds were then forecast to remain from the NE to the ENE for the night and I was hoping to fall off to the SE and make some miles towards my turning point. The weather gods had other ideas. Sailing in 15 knots of wind with the first reef in the main sail, storm jib sheeted to the centre of the boat and the stay sail out I was managing to make 7 knot average boat speed. As the winds dropped out for the wind shift I contemplated shaking out to the full main sail however given that the winds were due to be light for only a short amount of time and that the new winds filling in from the NE will be 15-20 knots I decided to keep the reef in. So, sailing a little slower than normal I watched the winds veer from the SE to the E and then to the NE but it didn’t stop there they continued to the NW for a time before settling in at the NE again. It was 9.30 pm and I had been waiting for this shift so that I could tack the boat and then try for some sleep until the winds were due to rise around midnight.
Satisfied that the boat was moving along as best as she could while sailing close hauled I went below to get some sleep. As I was getting ready I was monitoring the winds and watched the winds start to reach 25 knots from the NE. I was still sailing with the 1st reef in the main sail and while I didn’t think it would be enough wind to break the sail I felt it was outside the range of the sail trim at present. I watched the winds for 20 minutes to be sure that this wasnt just a short burst but when they remained steady at 25 knots and started to gust 27 knots I decided that I would put the second reef in for the night. I had expected the winds to build later but maybe they were early. On deck, I put the second reef in and started tidying up all the lines, I also half furled away the Stay Sail on the Pro Furler (supplied by Wichard). Before I even had the chance to go below the winds dropped out... I was now sailing with the 2nd reef in the main sail in 5 knots of wind going absolutely nowhere. Over 30 minutes the winds veered from the NE right around to the ESE and finally the SE. As I was waiting for the NE winds to arrive I was hoping that this was just a little lull and shift before my expected NE winds so I didn’t bother to tack. I went below after setting the auto pilot to follow the wind direction on a 50-degree wind angle, the boat was on a port tack so I was making a rough course to the SE and SSE. I was quite tired from the last few days so I opted to try for an hour’s sleep and see what the winds were doing after that.
When I woke to the sound of my extra loud alarm blaring I looked at the instruments and saw that the winds had now come right around to the SSE and I was heading backwards a touch on my course. Grumbling I climbed out of my warm bed on to the deck and was greeted with a drizzly rain to wake me up. I threw in a tack and started to sail 070 True. 30 minutes later and the wind had once again dropped out and started to shift back to the NE. They had backed from the SSE to the East so I was hoping that they would continue. I decided to tack back to the port tack in preparation. The winds stopped at the ENE and started to build. It was now midnight and I was expecting more winds to arrive around now so after watching the winds gust up to 30 knots I went on deck to put the third reef in. I went through the entire process, put the reef in, furled away the stay sail, so I was now only sailing with the storm jib, and packed away all the lines. Again, the minute I was ready to go back below and to bed the winds dropped back to 20 knots making my sailing quite slow.
I was starting to get really frustrated as it seemed that I would sail out of this wind hole and then it would catch me again giving me the wind shifts and the lighter winds. I was also very tired by now and had been trying for sleep since 8pm. I knew that the winds were filling in from the NE and just assumed that this wind hole had messed me around for a bit but that the NE winds would arrive and increase. So, judging on this, I opted to go and sleep for an hour and then see if the winds had increased again. Cat napping for an hour I then looked at the winds, they were still blowing 20-25 knots occasionally 17 knots and I was severely under-cooked with my speed. The last thing I wanted was to go to all the effort of shaking out this reef only to have the winds build again, so I opted for another hour’s sleep and to check back later. My arms are quite sore, and I am getting fatigued easily when reefing, so I was wanting to conserve my strength. An hour later however showed no signs of changing and now I was just annoyed with myself for taking so long to shake the reef back out... Back on deck at 2am in the drizzling rain I winched up the main sail so that I was back to the second reef and put out a bit of stay sail. My speed was back up to a healthy 7 knots and I was so ready for a real sleep.
I was able to keep that sail arrangement for most of the morning and Climate Action Now made steady progress to the SE. Looking at the forecast today and the weather models, everything is changing, but the one consistent is that I will still be sailing in 30-40 knot easterlies tonight. In the last of the day light the winds started to show signs of building with my incoming low so I put the third reef back in the main sail and furled away the little bit of stay sail that was out. I also tacked as the winds had gone from the ENE to the E and then to the ESE and started a climb north east towards my way point. I am now 340nm from the turning point and hope that the weather gods take it easy on me after this storm and give me some nice sailing conditions to get around that mark. It’s funny as for this whole circumnavigation I haven't sailed into an easterly gale yet 3 days from rounding the final turn and here I am having to slog away sailing close hauled in these nasty conditions. Neptune is just having a laugh I reckon.
Well I am going to attempt to get some sleep, the winds have now built to 35-40 knots and the sea state is starting to get quite rough causing me to crash off the backs of the waves. Should the conditions get any worse I can put the 4th reef in however I am hoping that I can hold with the current sail set up but only time will tell.
Now....on a more positive front, Lisa's dad, her Sister, her Grandfather and Myself board a plane this afternoon bound for Perth....Very Excited.... Her Grandfather is particularly excited, he has been living this adventure with such enthusiasm (and a little of what we call the Grandpa Bull Shit Factor) and has the whole retirement village involved. He is a lot happier than last time we made the trip for Lisa's departure, as I think we have bypassed the gout that reared its ugly head the evening before the flight last time just to add to all his other difficulties. I am just about to read the instructions on the oxygen bottle just in case that is needed......and we are off. For those that missed the beginning of this adventure, last time we made the trip over we had to come back before Lisa had actually left (due to several delays in her departure) which was ok, because we got to see and her and meet everyone involved even though it was a bit of a blur. I think I would have been a mess if I was actually there when she left. Everyone apart from me are booked to fly out of Albany on the afternoon of the 26th, so I hope it is not going to be a repeat of that scenario. It does look to me though, that Lisa will have a good run once she turns that corner......... but then I always do try to see the positive. Linda (Mum)