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Day 10 - Slopping about in the morning,... big seas and strong winds by midnight

Thursday 4th November

I forgot to mention that I saw a possible water spout near sunset yesterday, as we were in increased winds and seas. I've taken photos to examine in detail - but it looked just like a thin 'twister' of dk grey from sea up to cloud and then on, high up, there were wisps of it. I've heard enough about water spouts to know they're things to steer clear of.... This one was quite a distance away, off our path, but very distinctive. (If it wasn't a water spout, then the US Navy had just let fly a missile!!)

Overnight was very bumpy and wind stayed around 20 knots, veering from SSW to SW by 5am when I was up posting my usual noon UTC position and weather report. I was about to get back to my bunk when the wind suddenly 'switched' direction - from SW to W in no time at all, and died down almost immediately to ~12 kt, and then, soon after, to just 4-5 kt .... so, by 8am, we ended up slopping about, having had to change tack twice, shake out reefs and unfurl genoa. The light wind proceeded to circle around, making it very difficult, yet again, to steer a straight course - I had to make continual adjustments.

By 10:20, the wind was more steady, at 6-9 kt from the N, and the Hydrovane ('Fred') was able to steer a good course, beam-reaching at 3.3 kt. I was famished, not having eaten properly the night before due to the crashing about, and not yet having had a chance to get myself any breakfast, so I cooked myself a big, delicious brunch of ham and eggs with mushrooms (the last of my fresh), potatoes and tomatoes... mmm!!! Swilled down with fresh coffee....

Grey skies .... misty, fine rain ...N wind of only 6kt... Fred was well in control, despite the light wind, so I left him to it and went down below, looking forward to a good sleep. But no, ....as I finished a lengthy cleaning up in the galley, I realized the wind had veered yet again - time to tack again.... With boom preventer and staysail added to genoa and mains'l to think about, that always takes a time. Finally I got to my bunk for a welcome nap.

The good news is that since then we've been heading roughly SOUTH - yippee! - and should be able to keep on this heading for a long time to come... By early evening, the wind had got up well enough that we were making 5 kt or more. In fact, the wind started increasing more as night fell & I decided to take in a reef.

The wind continued to rise and the seas got bigger... we were going downwind now, so seeing 24kt of true wind, I thought maybe the time had come to furl in the full genoa quite a bit, .... maybe take in a second reef ... and soon after, seeing winds over 30kt, maybe best to take in the 3rd reef.....!! We now felt more under control...rather than seeing speeds of 8-9 kt as we sped down waves, swinging about in the big seas rather wildly and feeling decidedly uncomfortable. Of course, it was dark and raining, so I got soaked but being dressed properly, didn't feel too cold.

We're not far from passing Cape Mendocino, 195 ml away, which has a bad reputation for stormy weather and seas - which I experienced the last time I passed by. Tonight's weather is being caused by a small Low to the S, which should dissipate overnight and tomorrow , after which the North Pacific High should settle in nicely ..... I hope! At least we're making excellent speed now, ready for the light winds expected again by tomorrow night, probably .......... Talking about which, being 5th November tomorrow, to my friends in the U.K. ....................

HAPPY GUY FAWKES!! ..... Happy Bonfire Night! ... I hope you enjoy the Fireworks!!

Maybe I'll see a meteorite or two....

P.S. In the strong winds this evening, we've been charging nicely....

Written by : Mike

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