Day 28 from Cape Town to Hobart - I decide to heave to again!

Monday 5th March 2012

We made good progress NE overnight in SW-WSW winds of 30-35kt and seas around 4-5 m - surprisingly, all went fine until near 8am, when we suddenly had a sustained wind of up to 44knots for a time... and the seas got angry ... I was not a happy bunny! All due, of course, to a dark grey raincloud passing over - typical squally conditions in the SW winds behind the Cold Front.

I decided it was time to gybe the main and change course to more downwind. With the poled-out stays'l to weather, I thought we'd try sailing E- ESE, if possible, hoping that would work in the SW force7 wind and big WSW seas now running, with the option of heaving-to in mind. The other factor in my mind was that I really didn't want to go any further N - we were now at 38S, having been at 42S on Friday morning. We'd made such good speed overnight we were well N of where I'd expected to be by morning.. and a High was due to drop down on us in a few days' time, meaning we now needed to head more S, once we were out of these big seas!

Our new heading lasted just over 15 minutes! Seeing us surfing at around 15 knots a few times, on top of tumbling water, and with the memory of the 44kt squall fresh in my mind, I thought "Enough is enough - time to heave to... " The stays'l was furled in ... and we hove to fairly quickly... Seas had built to easily 7m (well over 20ft) and the wind has been highly variable over the day in the grey, rainy conditions.... from around 27 kt to 35+ kt in no time, as each raincloud came along. The period of the seas is good, at around 8-10 seconds, so they're spaced well apart - but in trying to see the trough, to gauge how big they were, I often couldn't see the bottom of it fom the very top of a wave until we were going down the backside of the wave due to their curved shape - they were definitely impressively big!!.. and areas of foam were scattered around on their surface.

It's been a bumpy day, being tossed around like a cork on the waves, but better than trying to keep going in these conditions. At one point this afternoon, I spent a time trying to locate the source of a 'clonk' I kept hearing - sounded like something very heavy moving and banging into something else. Worrying... but I finally realised it was simply the underside of our 'sugar-scoop' (where our stern is formed into steps) banging on the sea surface as we came down with a bump at the stern occasionally... Relief!

One job, I noticed late this afternoon, waiting to be done before we get going again - the stays'l sheet has chafed badly where it went through the jaw of the pole and needs attention. I thought we'd move on at dusk, but the seas and wind were still up too much - so, in the morning, hopefully. Time for a good sleep and up early...

Indicative of the good speed we were making overnight, until we hove to this morning....
DMG over the 24hr noon-to-noon (GMT) period was 114 n.ml., despite nearly 9 hrs hove to!

Written by : Mike

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