Last night there was certainly a lot of gritting my teeth and swearing it as I drifted and attempted to sail through the wind hole at the centre of the low. I went on deck just after I finished the blog last night to tack the boat. The wind angle was 020 T and I was on a port tack making my course 090 T but I only had 6-8 knots of wind around. This was not the winning tack so I was opting to tack the boat and try for a course of 330 T which would at least mean that I am sailing north to some degree. I had the full main sail up and the genoa out. I let off the port running backstay and turned the boat around to tack. Once I had completed the tack I then had a look at my course... I was disappointed and shocked to see that as I tacked the winds decided to shift with me so my true wind angle was now 340 T and my course was now 270 T or west. I was thinking that this was ridiculous that the very second, I wanted to tack the boat to get a better course to the north the winds shift knocking me down...
I stayed on deck sailing east while I watched the winds to see if it was likely to go back to blowing from the NNE. After no change in 10 minutes I decided to tack back as I would be now sailing NE on the opposite tack rather than west. Again, the winds are just playing silly buggers because the minute I tacked back to the port tack the winds veered to blow from the NNE. Again, I was sailing east and making no northerly direction. Again, this happened on the next tack and the next so after over an hour on deck and 4 tacks I was still either sailing east or west but making absolutely no northerly direction. It was also now 1am and I was getting over the fact that the winds just didn’t want to be nice. I left boat sailing east and decided to go below to brush my teeth, heat up the hot water bottle and just see what will happen. I went on deck after getting ready for bed and put in one final tack to put the boat on starboard tack sailing west. At least if I was sailing west I would be sailing out of the centre of the low-pressure system which was preferable to sailing with the system.
I was very pleased to see that the winds finally settled to the NE 30 minutes later allowing me to make a NW course. The winds built to 15 knots by 5am and by 5.30am I was in a little rainy squall getting 28 knots of wind. As I still had out the genoa and the full main sail I was rather quick to get on deck and change sails. Firstly, I changed out the genoa and then I ended up putting the first reef in the main sail. I didn’t want to put the reef in only to have the winds drop off shortly after but when its blowing 28 knots there is no real choice, its reef or risk blowing out the sail and i still have my little holes in the bottom of the mainsail. Job done I went back to bed to try for some more sleep.
When I awoke around 10 am the winds were still blowing 15-20 knots and the boat was still making good time. The winds remained at 15 knots or above for most of the day light hours and I was expecting a good run from now on. Unfortunately, I then sailed right into another wind hole at sunset where the winds dropped out to 5 knots and started dancing around again. Back on deck and all around me was storm clouds with sheeting rain below however right where I was, I was under clear blue skies and with only a light breath of wind. Where there are storm clouds there is normally wind so I was hoping that the clouds around me would be pushed over the top of me and give me some wind to get clear. That didn’t happen and they all ended up moving out of view over the horizon. I shook out to the full main sail and changed over my headsails so that I was again sailing on the genoa.
After another 2 hours of drifting at 1.5-2 knots the new winds reached me. Filling in fast to 15 knots from the WSW to SW I was able to start sailing again and I was even able to make north, which was a bonus. This means that every mile sailed is a good mile towards home. By 8pm the winds had started to gust 25 knots so I went on deck and changed out the head sails so that I was back on the reinforced stay sail rather than my light wind genoa. I contemplated putting the first reef in the main sail but decided to wait and see if this extra wind was short lived or not. I am getting rather tired of putting reefs in just to have to shake them back out again soon after, so I was trying to avoid the same thing from happening. Not even 30 minutes later and the winds were still 25 knots from the WSW to W direction but they had now started to gust up to 29 knots so it was definitely time to put a reef in the main sail. I was sailing on a beam to broad reach so the winds were behind me allowing me to carry more sail than I normally would. Finally, I am now sailing in W to WSW winds with the first reef in the main and the stay sail out. Climate Action Now feels a little pressed when the winds are up and does round up in the really big gusts of 30 knots but the winds then drop back to 23 knots shortly after making for a manageable sail and a fast one too. I am keeping my speed above 8 knots getting 10 knots often which is exactly what I need.
I now have only 2 sleeps left at sea and 280 nm left to sail before I arrive in Albany. The latest ETA is around lunch time on Tuesday and I will continue to keep you updated on that as I get closer. Winds are now gusting 33 knots so I best get on deck and chuck another reef in the main sail...
Right at this moment, 1 sleep and 185nm to Go!