A very bad night last night. Our weather GRIB files, 2 different models, predicted big areas of 20 knots or 25 knots of wind from the north. Instead we had 35 knots of north, steady, up to 38, which created a big wave situation, with cresting seas 12-15′ high. This went on most of the afternoon. And then suddenly, nothing. The wind dropped to zero in just a few minutes. We knew we were approaching a front (even though the special fronts section of our weather website didn’t show it). The boat, with full keel, and 4 ballast tanks full, slopped all over the place, the sails going aback on one side of the waves, the waves throwing the boat around. It was not possible to stand up in the cockpit. Then I had to turn the autopilot off, since we were making no steerage way.
Then I saw the line of wind coming at us, with vicious little waves on top of the huge leftover sea. Bam it hit, 25 knots, then 30 knots, then 35 knots, all arriving within 5 minutes, from the West, so that we were pushed at high speed directly into the wave train. I’ve said it before and it happened again, why the mast is still in the boat is beyond me, the thunderous crashes as the big boat would leap off a wave and land in a trough, just shocking. It shut down the computer about 5 times because of the connection of the laptop to docking station, we think.
Nor have I ever seen a barograph just jitter down, no smooth curve, like somebody hitting the table when you’re trying to write. And the west wind slowly moved to northwest, but stayed at 35 knots solid. Eventually, in my opinion of this boat, we had to put in a 3rd reef to save the boat, it would not survive these leaps and crashes. So I did, which of course meant sailing directly into the sea train, so that the mainsail would flag back from the mast, and put in the reef. Even inside the coachroof is dangerous in this.
As the wind got to 38 knots, we began to get to the limit of the staysail, so the storm jib is the only option, but since the forecast was for 20-25, I had put it away. So in the dark, in complete chaos, crawling the only option on deck, I got the storm jib rigged (we took only one wave down the forepeak hatch, I figured that was good) and then set. That whole operation was extremely dangerous. Eric Bellion and I had talked about being on deck and harnesses, and how one wave could just come and take you. We did have one wave, but it didn’t get all of me, one time when I was crawling with the sheet back to the cockpit. When the storm jib got set, I went below to try to rest, pretty difficult with the crashing and banging, and having to go around to the back of the chart table and reboot the computer so often.
It was an awful night. The others in the group escaped, being far enough ahead and to the east. I had stayed west a little bit to try a more direct route, and to try to catch up a bit. It backfired. We are now separated by a weather system. We only appear as a group because one looks at a whole ocean. But we really aren’t anymore.
This morning the wind started to diminish and go around to the south. So I had to go back up in reefs. I went two times, to reef 2, then to reef 1, with 5 minutes in between. The physicality of this boat is beyond description, and I am exhausted and, frankly, demoralized. We saw the sun about once in the southern ocean. And now, same here, we had one day, plus one afternoon of sun, and the rest of it, like today, we might as well be back in the Indian Ocean: gray, gray, gray.
41° 27’S x 46° 38’W
True Wind Speed
True Wind Direction
Sails (click for diagram)
Mainsail (1 reef), Solent
55°F / 12.7°C
64°F / 17.7°C
|Winch Pedestal Revolutions (daily)||Amp Hours: Alternator (total)||Amp Hours: Solar (total)||Amp Hours: Hydro (total)||Amp Hours: Wind (total)|