Well a change is in the air and I sail towards my next storm. Last night after having a frustrating day in less than 7 knots of wind I was thrilled that the winds decided to settle and fill in to a steady 10 knots at 10pm. Often when you get a new breeze fill in like this it can increase in strength quite quickly so while I was already in bed I did lie away for some time to see if the winds would build any further. In the end, the most I saw was 14 knots and whilst the boat was going fast because I still had the full main up and the full genoa out I didn’t feel the need to change sails. I was finally sailing fast and I planned on making the most of it. I told myself that if I started to see winds over 15 knots then I would change down sails. I set the alarm for 3 hours and tried to get some sleep. I awoke at 2am to the boat flying along in 15-20 knots of wind, those building winds have finally arrived. When I got on deck the clouds had thinned some allowing for enough light to see by, there was even a star or two peeking out from around the clouds. Apart from the light misty clouds that were there I couldn’t see anything that suggested a change but on the latest weather forecast from Bob (METBob) the winds were going to be in the 20 knots plus range the following day so I wanted to get those reefs in early.
I was still watching the winds, even as I was preparing to put the first reef in the main sail and they were mostly at 15 knots, so I was fairly happy with the idea of only putting in the first reef but I didn’t really want to have to get up on deck again in an hours’ time to put the second reef in, so I was still watching those winds to see if they were increasing rapidly or not. I started lowering the Main sail to the first reefing point and just as I got it there the winds gusted to 22 knots. So, on a split-second decision I decided to put in the second reef and skip the first reef all together. As soon as I finished putting in the second reef and tidying up the lines the winds were back to 15 knots. I had also needed to furl away the Genoa on the Pro Furler and unfurled the stay sail. As the winds were now back to 15 knots I did feel like the boat was a little under powered however I was able to average 7.5 knots so that was enough for me and as the boat was now set up to 25 knots I was able to have a worry-free sleep for the remainder of the morning.
Daylight arrived all too soon and it was time to get up. Looking again at the winds and they had now fallen to 10-15 knots but I was still making okay time. I knew that there was wind due so I decided to just leave it. Throughout the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon the winds continued to blow at a steady rate from the North East and increased to 20 knots by 2pm. I was still within my sail plan so I just left the boat to carry on as I thought of what was to come. There is a storm on its way with gale westerly winds over the course of tomorrow and monday. Bob had mentioned that I might light to heave-to on sunday night for that night and monday. The winds are expected to be steady 38 knots with gusts up to 50 knots and the seas at due to become regular 7 meters with occasional 10-meter waves so I am in for a bumpy ride.
I started to think again of storm strategies and what might be the best tactic in the coming conditions. When I was heaving-to regularly it was because I was sailing south and if I was to bear away and run before the storms I would be making too much ground to the east, so heaving-to was the best option. Now however, I want to be making the best course to the east, so I will be wanting to run before the storm as the preferred tactic should I require one. Then the question arises, if the swell gets too large what’s to stop me getting rolled. So, in preparation I have dug out the drogue today and set it up on the back deck so it is ready for deployment. The series drogue is really quite heavy to move around the boat. I am very aware that in rougher conditions I would struggle to carry it back. It is hundreds of meters of rope and a 20 kg weight on the end, so I want to have it all set up in the calmer conditions and then I can deploy it should the need arise. That is what I spent a good portion of this afternoon doing. Now I am not sure if I will need it or if I will choose to heave-to or if none of it will be necessary because the forecast was over estimated but I do know that I will sleep better tonight knowing that the Climate Action Now is as prepared as can be.
At 6pm the winds built a little more and started to blow at 20-30 knots and I needed to get on deck again and put in another reef. Once on deck I did a final check of things before the bad weather. I put in the third reef and also furled away the stay sail, so I now only have the storm jib on the bow. With this configuration, I can carry it up to 35 knots of wind and after that I can put in the 4th reef in the main sail. The barometer had been falling all day and is meant to rise again around midnight before dipping again into tomorrows storm, so there is a chance that I will get over 35 knots tonight. It will likely be short lived in a gust however tomorrow will be a whole other story.