Wednesday 26th October
With more slopping about overnight in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, getting absolutely nowhere, I finally decided to accept we weren't moving anywhere until the ebb would begin, just before dawn, and took to my bunk for a few hours of good, if broken, sleep (broken a few times to check around) while there were no ships around. With boatspeed of 0.0 and SOG of 0.1-0.2 kt in a slight flood tide, it felt safe to relax, knowing the AIS would give a loud warning well in advance if any ship were to threaten to come too close. I'd hardly slept the first night and needed to be ready for bad weather still expected.
On checking on deck at first light, it was great to find the light NW wind had gone to the SSE - together with the ebb tide, we were finally able to drift along at all of 1.1 kt and gently make our escape in a pink dawn, speed slowly improving as the tide and wind both increased. Just before noon, we were making 5 kt in 13 kt of ESE wind and the Strait was finally behind us.
Soon after, in watery sunshine, I found us surrounded by lots of different birds - there must have been a big shoal of fish around us! Brown shearwaters (?) with black face, wing-tips and tail and a yellow beak.... gulls with silver grey upper wings edged in white, grey face, white underparts.... and one distinctively-marked bird (prion?) - dark grey wings with a zig-zag of rose-pink, a black cap on its head, white underparts except for dark chin.... (Identifications, anyone?) I enjoyed the feeling of being back at sea, sailing in the fresh air and enjoying the birds - despite the cold air and the rather rough seas! But I was glad of a mug of hot soup later!
But I had work to do - the wind increased rapidly as we sailed away, further off shore - and with 22-26kts eventually, and a dropping barometer, I was kept busy taking in firstly reef 1 and, soon after, reef 2. The strong winds, with corresponding seas, had arrived...! Hit by a 30-knot rainsquall, as darkness fell, I decided three reefs sounded good, along with a vastly reduced genoa, using the staysail instead!! Boatspeed dropped initially, but picked up later... The wind has gone more to the S, but I wanted to head well offshore anyway, so that's fine for now....
We could have strong conditions like this for several days - I'm looking forward to warmer air as we head further south!