Wild ride home..


d'Albora's Action Project: AUS 360 Blog Update

Presented by Pivotel

Afternoon all,

Again it is still cold, wet and rough out here as the storm is still raging. Yesterday the winds eased back to 25 knots in the early evening but that was before they came back again full throttle at 35 knots. Climate Action Now was handling the conditions well but it was like living inside a roller coaster/submarine. I was expecting the conditions to worsen overnight so finally at midnight I decided to put the boat into the hove-too position. I had cracked down hard off a few steep 4-meter waves and the violence of the crash left me wondering how my mast was still standing so after I had coped a couple of these I decided it was best to play it safe with the finish line so close. The last thing I would want is to have to go through another de-masting near the finish.

So with the winds howling around me and the spray wetting my face as it gets ripped from the tops of the waves I crawled out on the deck at midnight and tack the boat. Once I had the sails on the starboard side I then tacked back without changing the jib across and turned the helm all the way towards the wind. What this does is effective acts like putting the handbrake on and as the winds blow on the jib is pushes the bow down away from the winds and the mainsail drives the boat up and you end up drifting sideways. I used this technique when I sailed solo around Antarctica and was able to safely drive through 15-meter waves and 50 knots of wind but it always amazes me how calm everything gets as soon as your in position.

You are still healed over as the wind blows the boat to a 45-degree heal but there is no movement like when you are sailing. While I am sailing in these rougher conditions I need to always hold on because at any moment you could feel that moment of weightlessness seconds before you come crashing down on the back of a wave and if you aren't holding on or braced for the hit you very easily can be thrown across the cabin and injured. When your hove-too your still in those dangerous seas but it's like everything stabilizes and you can almost feel safe letting go of a handrail. It isn't always safe though and after I was in hove-too last night I was reading my book, killing time while I waiting for the storm to peak when we were sideswiped by a very large breaking wave.

Whitewater or broken waves are the most dangerous out here and 1 square meter of whitewater is equivalent to 1 tone of pressure applied so when you have a 5 or 6-meter waves crashing into the side of your boat well it tends to have an impact. Last night I had one particularly bad wave that smashed into the side of the boat. As I was already healed over with the hove-too it didn't take too much for it to continue pushing me over and very quickly I was well past 90 degrees. It happens quickly and there is not much time to react, I was in the galley and all I could do was brace myself on the wall and grip on. it was fortunate that it wasn't bigger and after reaching the max angle which I guess was around 120 degrees over we righted again and the world carried on as nothing had happened. After a quick inspection on deck, I could see we had escaped unscathed for now.

The rest of the night was spent hove-too with little mishaps and at lunchtime, I tacked the jib back over and started sailing again as the winds had eased a touchback to 30 knots. Now I am just over 70 nm from Sydney and if all goes to plan I will hopefully be arriving around lunchtime tomorrow where I can fulfil all my food fantasy's and eat all the hot chips, ice cream and cheese I can stomach. Tonight the storm is supposed to get worse again so I am watching the winds closely and will be making sure that I won't be crossing the continental shelf until things calm down as that is where the swell will be the worse. If I need to I will hove-too again but for now, the winds are between 30-35 knots with the swell around the 4-5 meter range and still very messy. It's a wild ride.

Thanks to the following Sponsors for all their continued support: d’Albora Marinas, Pivotel  B&G, Australian Geographic, Zhik , Park Fuels, Karver, 3M, White Bay 6 Marine Park, and Great Circle Life Raft