Frustrating Light Winds

Evening All,

Last night was a night of little sleep in the end.  It seems that whenever I have light winds I tend not to get much sleep.  When I am sailing in light winds I also have the most amount of sail up and last night was no different.  I was sailing in 10 knots with the full main sail, Storm Jib and the genoa out with winds from the South West and all seemed well.  The winds would drop out to 7-8 knots at times and at other times they would blow at 14-15 knots.  My problem is that as soon as I reach the top end of the winds I start to worry that the sails are going to blow out, especially with my little holes in the main sail.  This just means that when I should be sleeping, all I end up doing is lying in bed watching the instruments and waiting for the bang of the sail tearing...  It tends to get to me and definitely keeps me awake.  So last night I read my book in bed with a touch and the whole time the winds were below 10 knots and everything was going good. The boat was doing 6 knots but about 5 minutes after I turned out the lights the winds decided to build to 15-16 knots.  I was sailing on a broad reach, so I also knew that the true wind was likely blowing a little higher as I was sailing with the winds…… and so the dilemma began.  Lying in bed I was watching the winds trying to decide if this was it for the night or if this was simply a short passing section of higher winds.  I didn’t want to do a repeat of the night before where I put a reef in only to have the winds drop off shortly after and I ended up going slower than necessary for the night.

I was really conscious of the fact that the next day there was going to be no wind around all day.  I really wanted to work hard and get some miles in before the winds dropped out completely in the morning.  I laid there in bed and watched and worried and watched and worried and never did put in that reef or pack away that genoa but I did get to spend the whole night worrying about it.  The winds also backed from the North West to the South West around midnight so I needed to get up and put a gybe in.  All successful, I went back to bed, the winds had settled in for a SSW direction.  Finally, I managed to get a few short hours sleep.  I was woken at around 3am to more winds.  The wind built to 15 knots again and the boat powered up.  With so much sail out I was doing 10-11 knots in boat speed, which was great, but I was also once again back to the worry dilemma.  The winds stayed around for 20 minutes and then dropped back off to 8 knots.  I drifted back to sleep.  I woke again at 5am to find that I was now drifting around in 5-6 knots of wind...  I was still managing 3-4 knots boat speed but this was far from ideal.

It also meant that the wind hole that I knew was coming had arrived.  I resettled the boat and tried again for some sleep, as I was really lacking after the night before, but with no success.  The winds had become so variable that I was needing to alter course ever 10 minutes to keep up with the wind shifts.  Initially the winds were from the S then SW then W then a large swing to the SE and then back to the SW and so on it went.  This kept up until 2pm in the afternoon when the winds finally swung around to the North.  I knew that the fresh breeze was to be filling in from the North so I was hoping that this light wind section of 2-6 knots of wind was almost over... I was wrong.  The winds kept up the same shenanigans just from the north instead and unless I helmed the boat for the day I was stuck sitting by the instrument altering the auto pilot course every 5-10 minutes to have my best shot at making any ground towards home.  What happens is that there are these huge wind shifts of 60-90 degrees so I would one second be on a broad reach and the next be sailing on a close reach only my sails were still set for the broad reach so I was then effectively going nowhere.  In the end, I trimmed the sails for the halfway point and set the boat up on a beam reach.  I then did my best, altering the course to match the wind shifts and maintain some boat speed.

The least amount of wind I have seen all day is 1.7 knots and the most is 7.2 knots but by tomorrow I am meant to be back into 20 knots of wind, so again tonight is going to be a night of sail changes and lack of sleep.  I haven't really done anything else all day except chase the winds so I am really looking forward to that Northerly wind  arriving.
Good Night