Different kind of birthday morning!


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

Presented by Pivotel

Afternoon all,

Well after the dramas of yesterday I was really hoping for an easy night. I half got my wish. The winds continued to build as the peak of the storm closed in giving me gusts up to 37 knots and the steady winds were mostly around 30 knots. It was pouring rain all night making it hard to see and the waves started to become quite large. I was living in the bucking bronco as Climate Action Now would pitch and roll in the swell and the winds would howl through the rigging.

Every now and then there would be a wave with an extra kick to it and it would slam into the hull of the boat, throw us sideways and then engulf us in water as it passed over the top completely submerging me. Needless to say, I avoided going on deck as much as possible but I wasn't always able to.

I was sailing with the 3rd reef in the mainsail and the storm jib so not a lot of sail up however every now and then the winds would gust towards the 40-knot range and somehow it would be timed with a wave and I would get sucked towards the winds and accidentally tacked. This position with the jib still tied to the wrong side is actually a storm tactic to drift sideways with the waves and is called hove-too. However, for me I was still trying to sail as the weather wasn't that bad yet so I didn't feel the need to ride out the storm hove-too so I needed to then brave the deck to get Climate Action Now back to course.

The first time that this happened I was seconds from climbing into bed, I had brushed my teeth and was just filling out a final log in the log book when we rounded up and crash tacked into the hove-too position. Bugger. There are two ways to get out of this, one is you tack the jib overbuild some speed and tack the boat back to the course and the other which is one that I have used quite a bit is to turn the helm downwind and do a massive circle going through a gybe. Normally I find that this method is quick and easy so when we crashed tacked I was already stripped out of my foul weather gear (waterproofs), I debated quickly about getting kitted up again however it wasn't raining too hard and I wasn't planning on being on deck for that long so I took the hit and after putting my life jacket on I went on deck.

I went right to the helms and hit standby on the autopilot before changing the wheels to drive me away from the wind and through a gybe. It was pretty cold standing in the rain in my base layers and boots but I was soon to hop into a warm sleeping bag and would dry in there. As I watched I waited for the boat to react and got nothing. I stayed pinned sideways in the hove too position. Bugger. The way sails work is that they have opposing pressures. The mainsail drives you towards the wind and the jib drives you away from the wind and when you sail you balance the pressures between the two. Unfortunately for me, I had a touch too much mainsail up for the winds and it wasn't letting me come away from the wind and complete my turn.

It was 1 am and officially my 34th birthday and I had now been outstanding in the rain for far longer than I should have needed too and I was starting to crack it and throw another 2-year-olds temper tantrum... Shouting 'come on' to absolutely nothing in my most pissed off voice I scrambled forward and went through the whole process of tacking the jib to the right side, building speed and then tacking back to course and by the end of it I was worked up again and soaking wet. I really should have stopped to put that wet weather gear on.

Finally, after 10 minutes or so on deck in the rain I went below again but I was too worked up to sleep so I ended up watching another episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine till I calmed down. I finally went to bed at 3.30 in the morning but I didn't manage too much sleep between the boat lurching left and right we also went through 3 more crash tacks through the last of the night however I was able to turn the boat through the gybe on these and even able to do that from my bed but it meant that every time we luffed up I was awake again just waiting for the crash tack.

I finally managed some sleep in the late morning when the winds had calmed down a bit but I still feel cranky and tired but that also might have to do with spending my birthday alone at sea when land is so tantalizingly close that it is like a form of punishment. I always seem to get this way when I am nearing port and while I can quite happily spend months at sea on my own as soon as I am on the home stretch I can't wait to get back to land and any delays are found frustrating.

As it is there is some more bad weather coming that actually looks worse than what I just sailed through so I won't be getting into port until Monday at the earliest so I have a few more days to stew.

On the plus side, I had lots of lovely messages from my friends and family wishing me a happy birthday and I have spent most of the day relaxing. The winds have now eased quite a bit so I will likely shake out to the 2nd reef soon and there is some more water in the bilges that I will get out as well so there is still plenty to keep me busy. Anyway everything is fine, I didn't sink yesterday and I am happy and healthy so what more can you ask for.

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