In the Eye of the Depression

15 Dec

Last night we endured the warm front and strong winds of this depression. The barograph plummeted, the wind got up to 35-40 knots. We started with 3 reefs in the mainsail and the staysail. At 35 knots, our sail charts say that the staysail is still ok, but borderline. So to save the sail for the rest of the race, we went with the storm jib.

Earlier in the day, I had rigged the storm jib, and hoisted it to make sure everything was led properly. But then I lowered it and put it back in its deck bag. At dark I realized that was a mistake, and if we needed it in 35-40 knots of wind, that was not the time to be on the foredeck, in the dark, trying to hoist it. So up it went. And in the middle of the night, we needed it, and it was ready. And it did good work for us.

In these conditions,some will still be ‘racing’, but not me. For me it is preserve the boat and preserve the skipper. The conditions on board cannot be described, nor filmed. The boat is going fast and it is ricocheting off randomly oriented waves in an entirely unpredictable manner. It is violent. In the cabin we have 10 handholds all within reach. If one misses one, you might lose all your teeth, or crack your skull open if you go flying across the cabin. The boat might move 8 feet underneath you all of a sudden, and you’re either holding on, or you’re not. It’s utterly exhausting.

When I went to the foredeck before dark to hoist the roller furled storm jib, when I got to the mast, I crawled to the sail, and did all the connections on my hands and knees. This was by far safer than trying to stand up.

Anyway, we are now in the eye of the depression. The wind has slackened from 35-40 knots to 20 knots, and it will change direction dramatically before the cold front comes across and we are predicted to have 40-45 knots. At least that will be downwind. The 35 knots last night was upwind.

Wish us luck.


47° 51’S x 77° 40’E
116° True
13.3 knots
True Wind Speed
19.2 knots
True Wind Direction
Mainsail (2 reef) plus Solent
Air temperature
46.4° F / 8° C cockpit
Sea Temperature
45° F / 7.2° C

Winch Pedestal Revolutions (daily) Amp Hours: Alternator (total) Amp Hours: Solar (total) Amp Hours: Hydro (total) Amp Hours: Wind (total)
758 2402 483 10,075 1463

This article was syndicated from Ship’s Logs | sitesALIVE!


  1. Blair White

    I have heard that windvanes were more effective both in maintaining boat speed as well as energy usage as far as self-steering devices go, especially in high wind conditions such as this. In addition many claims are made that widvanes are much easier to repair at sea compared to electronic devices, yet in this video it seems clear an electronic autopilot is being used. Would someone in the know help me understand why racers are using electronic autopilots over windvane devices? If autopilots are best for racers, wouldn’t they also be best for cruisers?

  2. H. Davila

    Can anyone inform us what type/brand/model of autopilot these boats are using? I would not dare trust any of the ones I have used previously under these conditions.

  3. Craig Ramsey

    The video is a walk in the park compared to my crossing from St Lucia to St Vincent in August.
    3 hours doing 13kts with 2 reefs in 30kt+ wind, 12 ft seas breaking into the dinghy in its davits in the pouring rain on a chartered Moorings 4800 Cat. I was full of espresso at the start and completely empty in 30 min. Couldn’t see the horizon. I can’t imagine doing it in the dark.
    At least I knew it would be over in 45 miles.
    I agree, the conditions cannot be described nor filmed.

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