Back-to-Back Lows; Here’s the First…

22 Dec

December 20, 2018

Day 77

Noon Position: 43 58S  09 13W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ENE 7

Wind(t/tws): WxS 25 – 30

Sea(t/ft): NW and W to 15

Sky: Rain

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 995+, rising

Cabin Temp(f): 55

Water Temp(f): 50

Relative Humidity(%): 79

Sail: Working headsail, 3 reefs. Broad reach to a run.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 168

Miles since departure: 10,370

Avg. Miles/Day: 135

This low was kind. I expected the wind to come on overnight but it remained steady and fresh in the middle twenties, and I was able to grab good sleep, although in one hour increments.

In fact, as it grew light and winds were still moderate, I thought the low had slunk off to the south and would pass us by. But full morning disabused me of this fantasy. Winds were NW 35 by 6am and blew in the low forties until just before noon. Seas were high and confused; the break pitched forward, a blue-white mass. Often the W and NW trains would collide into a pyramidal shape and send spray skyward. This offering was immediately snatched-up by the wind and flung into the trough.

I expected a gradual backing of the wind from NW to W over the late hours of the morning, but at 10:30, a squall approached so dark that I put on foulie jacket and harness without contemplating why. When it hit, our forty knots of wind bent in an instant from NW to WSW and stayed there. Suddenly, Mo was turned around, exposing her flank to the sea.

What to do was not clear. To tack and take the wind on starboard would mean a course S of E and a dive back into the low’s rotation. It would also require shifting one of the jib sheets back to port. Not difficult, but not quick.

Rain pelted. The sea was white. For some time, I stood in the pilot house unsure what to do … and then realized that in the interim, Mo was sailing this new coures just fine. She took the seas beam on; she took her bumps and slaps and kept sailing. So, I did nothing. Within the hour, wind had veered to the W.

My day’s one error came in the late afternoon. Wind had moderated into the middle thirties. I wanted to unroll a bit of sail, so I dashed into the cockpit without my foulie jacket. We’d not been plastered in over an hour. Decks were dry. It seemed a safe bet.

Just as I finished, a curling sea took Mo at the stern and threw its upper third over the rail. I was slapped hard in the front and remained upright only because I’d been holding onto the dodger frame with both hands. As I drained, I looked down to find I was standing in a ten-inch puddle, and a sheet swept from its cubby had already knotted itself around my ankle.

Fair or foul, the water won that round decidedly, and I required a full change from base layers all the way to foulies, a not entirely bad thing as I’ve been wearing the same clothes since about 30S in the Pacific.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage

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