Day 25 from Cape Town to Hobart - avoidance tactics for next storm on its way!

Friday 2nd March 2012

Having shaken out the third reef yesterday morning and then, soon after, regretting it, finding the wind was up around 25kt a lot of the day, with bigger seas than forecast often tossing us around and continuing like that into the night, I didn't sleep too well again as a result - and was nearly thrown out of my bunk at one point . So I decided to reef back down again early this morning and gybe onto port tack so as to make a course of NE for the two days, with the W winds of the morning forecast to back to WSW and then slowly veer to NW ahead of the next Front.

I felt a lot better once that was done and the boat's motion was far calmer with the SW seas dead astern. They died down somewhat over the day as well, under a blue sky early on, which slowly became partly cloudy but still with plenty of sunshine. But still we were rolling a lot at times - so no lowering of the genoa just yet...

The reason for my concern was mainly due to the nasty weather forecast - the next Cold Front is due Sunday afternoon, with building winds ahead and gales (40+ knots) & BIG seas (8-10m) following it ... especially if I stayed on my last few days' course of due E along 42S. I'm hoping that by my early change of course to NE, I'll have got far enough N to avoid the worst of the big winds and seas - although I'm still expecting to have to heave to, since the seas will surely build, as usual, as the wind increases - even at 39-40S, I'll expect winds over 30knots and seas of 5-7m or so lasting for quite a time... We'll find out soon enough!

Of course, as that all dies down, there'll be the High moving S to worry about - not to get caught out too close to its centre with no wind or a headwind... It's all a tactical game, with a lot of luck involved in the decision-making.... and the basis of that is the weather info I'm getting. I'm forever studying the grib files I download each day, trying to judge my best course of action to avoid storms or being becalmed, and I'm also getting advice from other people - which I weigh up and take into account when it suits me. Graham, ZS2ABK, gives 6-hrly forecasts each day on the radio (about to be out of range) which are helpful for trends but often underestimate wind strengths and don't normally include swell heights or intervals. Also, newly-retired Bob McDavitt sends me regular weather forecasts and suggestions using computer software and info I don't have access to - it's all 'grist for the mill' - sometimes it's correct, sometimes not, but the general trend is the most useful - a Low is on its way for sure, with strong winds, most certainly, and the Cold Front that normally comes with it always causes the winds to behave a particular way, changing direction gently or abruptly. When it happens, you know for sure - but the timing is always uncertain!

Very few birds around today, as is not unusual when it's calmer, although they did include the solitary Royal albatross that's been around for several days now, soaring as always on long, fixed wings, rarely flapping them. The birds always seem to appear in far greater numbers when the winds and seas are up!

Wind is a gentle WSW4 tonight - a Warm Front is coming through tomorrow - nothing dramatic - ahead of Sunday's Cold Front - there's the drama...

With our change of course, DMG was cut down by just 5 n.ml., compared with a straight run all the way. Today's DMG: 127 n.ml. Present position: 41 18'S, 079 06'E.

Written by : Mike

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