Every 6 hours I get a new GRIB file for the weather forecasts. Every 6 hours it seems that the essence stays the same, but the wind strengths at Cape Horn increase. I plot out various scenarios, trying to keep moving, but with an idea to stay near the north of the depression for lighter winds than out at the periphery where it is 30-35 knots now.
We have tack gybed several times in the last 24 hours. Last night we also maneuvered to miss the Estimated Drift Position of various possible icebergs spotted by satellite on December 21. A satellite photo of the area of estimated drift of 3 possible icebergs, on January 11, showed no icebergs in the vicinity. Nonetheless, the satellite can’t see everything, and in keeping with my mantra of listen to the experts, and look at the data, if this is their best calculation of where those ‘possible’ December 26 spottings are now, then we will avoid those locations.
We rocketed through the night in a manner that is not at all my style. Yet there seemed an opening to get to Cape Horn if we went very fast, the wind gave us the chance, so we did. It was shocking and noisy and bouncy and noisy and big seas and the boat ricocheting and noisy and fast, fast, fast. And yet, when all was said and done, our little boat icon on the position reports showed 14.9 knots. So for the leaders of this race, who routinely would have little boat icons showing 19 knots, or 21 knots, what must that be like on board other than petrifying. It’s the one aspect of this I do not understand: how an those sailors tolerate that stress.
When we do a tack gybe, the first part is to roll up the fractional gennaker. This is a long, hard, grind on the pedestal winch at high speed, or as fast as you can muster. For me, my asthma becomes problematic, not that I have an asthma attack or an anaphylactic episode, but just the fatigue of breathing at a level of 70-80%, when I clearly need 100%. These boats are monsters to maneuver singlehanded.
Maybe if the storm delays a little bit it will be better. But hope has little role at sea. We await the next weather report forecast and will continue making our plans.