Cruising the Southern Ocean with Full Main

Evening all,

Last night the winds continued to ease and back around from the NW to the SW.  I had the third reef in the main sail and the storm jib up so at 5 am when the winds completed there turn around to the South west I put a gybe in and also shook out a reef.  The winds were now 22 knots so I also decided to put out a bit of the stay sail.  I was aware that the winds would continue to ease over the course of the morning but I was also aware that there could still be stronger gusts coming through from that system, so I wanted to play it safe.  I went back to bed with the 2nd reef in the  main sail, the storm jib trimmed to the centre of the boat and the stay sail unfurled on the Pro Furler.

I managed 2 more hours sleep before the flogging of the sails woke me back up and I went back on deck again.  The winds had now completely died out to 6 knots of breeze so I set about the almighty effort of shaking out 2 reefs at the same time.  I always struggle with this as I need to spend so much time grinding on the winch to get the sail up that high and I have to say that I avoid shaking out more than one reef at a time.  Its just tiring, however this morning that was exactly what i did, I spent a good 15 minutes winching away to lift the main sail from the 2nd reef to the full main.  This is also the first time that I have hoisted the sail to the full main all trip so it was a special moment.  Once the main sail was sorted I then furled away the stay sail and unfurled the genoa sail which is my big light airs sail and in 6 knots of wind I was managing to make 4-5 knots most of the time so it ended up being a good run all things considered.

When I trimmed the sails the winds were at a wind angle of 110 degrees but as I had sailed into a occluded front I new that the winds were likely to be variable in the wind direction.  I wasnt wrong either.  I trimmed the sails for a happy average of beam reach and then spent the rest of the day sitting in the navigation station watching movies as I altered the course on the B and G Zeus every 10 minutes to catch the wind shifts.  The winds would be south west in direction then veer to the south, then back to the west, then veered once again to the south east, back again to the south west and then decided to do a full loop in the mid afternoon.  The winds then went from the South West to south east to east to north east to north and finally back to the north east.  Its exhausting just thinking about it.  Through all of that the winds remained below 8 knots and were mostly at 4-6 knots, so the boat wasn't going anywhere fast.  When the winds finally settled in to the North east I put a tack in and am now making some great speed in a healthy 10-12 knots of breeze.

Cruising in the Southern Ocean with Full Main

Cruising in the Southern Ocean with Full Main

At one stage during the day I also noticed that the main sail has some small holes in it.  Three of them below the second reefing point.  It took me a minute to figure out what they were from but it appears that the sail has chafed against the shrouds (rigging wire) on the port side of the boat when the boom has been right out. So now, even through I am sailing a perfectly balanced boat for the conditions I am likely going to put the 1st reef back in before going to bed so that I don't risk blowing out the sail in the increasing winds.  I would have repaired it today but given that I am in an occluded front the weather has been damp and overcast all day so I would have had some trouble getting the sticky back repair material to stick.  Until I get a sunny day (likely Albany) I will just need to play it a little extra safe.  Full main in 10 knots and below but 1st reef in anything above that.

The winds are due to back and increase through the night so I a can likely expect a wake up call around midnight for another reef.  Until then I plan on getting an early night.  I have been a little tired the last few days from the broken sleeps in the night and I am hoping that by getting a really early night I can catch up a little but that depends completely on the wind.  There is a little swell around but no sea chop so the boat is sailing smoothly which will also help my sleep.