The Low: First Round Assessment; Second Round Approaches.

28 Nov

November 21, 2018

Day 48

Noon Position: 49 18S  100 42W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): SExE 6

Wind(t/tws): WxN 25 – 37

Sea(t/ft): W 14

Sky: Clear

10ths Cloud Cover: 0

Bar(mb): 999 slowly falling

Cabin Temp(f): 57

Water Temp(f): 43

Relative Humidity(%): 63

Sail: Tripple reefed working jib, broad reach tending toward a run.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 151

Miles since departure: 6201

Avg. Miles/Day: 129

I stood watch until 3am. By this I mean I sat and watched and napped and watched as Mo worked through the gale. The sails were set; the course decision made; Monte had the helm. My job was simply to be at the ready should all hell break loose.

By dark winds were in the high thirties. By late night, low forties. By early morning, back down to high thirties.

My goal going into this blow was to not use the storm jib and to not deploy the drogue. In the first case, I reefed the working headsail down hard. Let’s call it the forth reef position. There wasn’t much canvas left by the time I got done rolling, but what there was must have been three times larger than the storm jib. Mo dug in and we slogged along at a good pace, but Monte was sometimes sluggish in responding to knocks, and the little jib gybed-over several times.

In the second case, I wasn’t tempted. Seas were large but not steep, and the breaking crests were lazy, falling back in on themselves. We didn’t even surf.

The day has delivered steady, hard winds and rambunctious seas, blue mountains heaving up, carrying Mo skyward, and then down, down, down. They are steeper now. The break is more exuberant. But Mo has only surfed once or twice and only gone over to the windows once.

I made two mistakes last night. One was to reef too heavily. I think this is my biggest heavy weather mistake: letting the boat slow. I am eager to find a set of sail that will last a blow whose upper wind velocities I dont know, but Monte needs water under the keel to maintain control. So, with winds edging again toward forty this evening, I’ve let out the “forth” reef. Now we’re at a standard three reefs. Mo pulls 7 knots easily, and (so far) Monte feels more in control.

The other was to let myself get cold. Dinner is a wonderful thing. Two big bowls of something hot heats me down to my toes, even in a cabin whose temperature is 45 degrees. But I sat on watch too long and let the fire dinner had made go out. By the time I’d seen enough, my feet were burning and I shivered in the bag. A sleeping bag can only maintain the heat you bring to it, and I brought none. The feet didn’t warm till the morning’s round of hot coffee. So, more clothing going into tonight’s “watch.”

The first layer of cloud is over us now. The front for this second low should not be too far behind.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage

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