I would like to say that things are going smoothly as I near the finish line but at the moment I am drifting around in 4 knots of wind going a grand total of 1.5 knots. At least it is in the right direction and it’s not raining... There is a plus side to everything. Last night I did get an unexpected boost of wind as they built to 25-30 knots from the ENE to E direction so I was able to cover some ground to the SE which was a plus. I was pushing the boat hard and kept the 2nd reef in the main sail even though have the time I was too pressed with the winds I refused to go slow so close to the finish line. I wasn’t sailing a direct course and in fact over the last few days with all my zig zags I feel like I have likely sailed twice the distance than I needed just because of these easterly winds.
This morning the winds dropped back to 18 knots so I went on deck to shake out to the 1st reef. While I was preparing the boat, the winds appeared to be starting to ease even further and it was forecast that I would be sailing in a bit of a wind hole today so I figured it was on its way. Trying to get the jump on things and not waste any time with the winds while I still had them I decided to go for the long grind and shake out to the full main sail. Another early morning upper body work out. Eventually I was staring at the full main sail. The winds were by now around 15 knots so it was still border line for getting out the genoa. I decided to wait a while to see if the winds continued to drop before changing out the head-sails. I am glad I did, because within 10 minutes of going back below I was sailing again in 20 knots of wind and the boat was pressed. For a short time, the winds got up to 25 knots and I was really pushing it with the main sail. I had also learnt from recent experience that these bursts of wind don’t tend to last for too long and sure enough a few minutes later the winds were back to 15 knots.
When I was shaking out the reef I also noticed that I have broken the 2nd batten in the main sail. These fibreglass battens are pushed into horizontal pockets in the main sail to help give the sail a good shape. I now had an awful kink in the main sail where the batten was broken. Speaking of things not working, I have also got a new water feature in the boat that I discovered whilst in the strong easterlies the other day and again last night. Where the mast enters through the boat to rest on top of the keel I have a rubber collar to seal out the water. When my new mast was chocked in Cape Town there was unfortunately some room left over, so now, when I am in rougher weather and the mast is pumping the chocks all fall out, allowing for a greater movement at the deck collar. Over time this has worn some holes into the collar. So now, every time a wave breaks over the deck I get this little waterfall inside the boat. In turn, it filled up my bilge in that section of the boat. I would normally be able to just pump it out however I was on the wrong tack to do so. Eventually, every time I crashed off a wave the water in the bilge would take the floor board in that compartment and slam it up the wall. All my floor boards are secured so that they can’t come loose if I was to go through a 360 roll over but the one in the heads (bath room) is so wedged in that it didn’t need securing bolts. That doesn’t stop it from getting lifted and slammed on each wave making for an awful noise. I have tried many things to seal off this little water feature but due to condensation and the boat being mostly wet I haven’t managed to get anything to stick just yet. I will keep trying though.
So, aside from my water feature and shifty winds, I have tried to have a bit of a rest day today. This means that I didn’t do a million sail changes and finally gave my muscles a break. They have been really getting fatigued with the recent increase in sail changes, but with such a short time left at sea I am more than happy to push myself hard. I was able to manage 15 knots of wind from the E to ESE for the majority of today however by 6.30 pm the wind gods decided enough was enough and went on holiday. I am now drifting in 5 knots of wind going the awesome pace of 1.6 knots at the moment. My alarms keep going off almost consistently with the wind shifts. I will attempt some sleep but it is unlikely until I get more stable conditions. It is quite heart breaking to sit here drifting around when the turning point for going to Albany and the point where I will have completed a full circumnavigation around Antarctica solo is less than 130 nm away. So close yet so far. I can only wish for more stable winds tomorrow.
P.S. Looks like around 60nm to left turn, Linda (mum)