Last night I managed eventually needed to put the second reef in the main sail and furl away a touch of the stay sail on the Pro Furler. The winds were blowing from the WSW at 30 knots however as I was running with it on a wind angle of 120 T. I was able to carry a lot more sail than I normally would. I am usually down to the third reef in the main sail by the time the winds reach 30 knots but given that this was one of the last nights of the trip I pushed a little harder and was regularly making 10 knots towards home. The winds peaked at 35 knots and I still pushed with the 2nd reef in the main sail and the stay sail out. I basically was sailing the boat how I would if I had a full crew on board and someone at the helm, so I was a little on edge and again didn’t really manage much sleep.
It was 3am again by the time I dived into my bunk and I sunk into sleep almost immediately. As I am almost home the media attention is starting to build, Tracy and her team at Twentieth letter have been arranging some interviews for me, so my first job of the day was 2 radio interviews. I then needed to go on deck and shake out to the first reef as the winds had started to drop. As I got on deck the sky was mostly clear blue, dotted with fluffy white clouds, however there were 2 very large nasty looking squalls around me. I was bouncing between the idea of just shaking to the first reef or keeping on going and put the full main sail up, the winds were now blowing from the west and ranged around 15 knots. I could easily have the full main sail up in that but looking at the dark squally clouds coming down at me I decided it would do me no good to blow out my main sail this close to the finish, so I shook out to the first reef only.
Back below, I enjoyed one of my last breakfasts at sea and then set about getting some jobs done. Honestly until now I have been feeling I still have weeks at sea, I have gotten into such a routine that it is hard to imagine that i will be making landfall tomorrow. I am looking forward to it but I don’t think it has really sunk in that this will be over and done with in less than 24 hours, or the fact that I will be the proud new holder of a world record by sunset tomorrow. If I was to imagine my future from my childhood, uncoordinated and awkward self, I would not have foreseen me sailing solo around Antarctica. Eeek, I still can’t believe I have almost done it. When I look at the whole picture from birth of the idea to the completion 4 years later, I think tomorrow will be a surreal experience for me. I am just hoping that the winds behave and help me along to the finish line.
So far I have mostly had wind all day today with the breeze dropping below 10 knots this afternoon... One of the jobs that I wanted to get done today was to get the storm jib down and packed away, as I won’t be needing that anymore. Since it got so horribly jammed the first time I hoisted it I had decided to keep the sail up for the remainder of my journey as a just in case measure. I also set a retrieval line to the halyard in-case I couldn't get it down again. So, while the conditions were calm and I was unlikely to cope a wave in the face I decided that this would be the perfect time to pack away the storm jib. I got everything prepped and was fully prepared to have to wrestle the sail down and so it was a great surprise when it came down with little or no issue. I packed it away and then shook out the sail to the full main sail as well as changing over my jibs so that I was again on the genoa.
The winds built back up to 10 to 15 knots for the rest of the afternoon/evening and I have been making some steady progress. The only question mark is the fact that the winds were forecast to be blowing from the west tonight but I am already faced with WNW to NW winds making it hard to keep course to the North. I just hope that tomorrow when the NW winds were forecast that they don’t veer to the North, or it will take me 3 times as long to get to port as I will be needing to tack my way up the coast line. I also had plans to have a bucket bath today so that I am somewhat respectable before arriving into port but my day has disappeared before I got the chance, so unless I get some time in the morning in-between jobs then unfortunately, people of Albany, you will just have to suffer... Current ETA is still lunchtime tomorrow weather pending and I currently have 110nm to run. I will be seeing you all soon.