Monday 19th March 2012
Shortly before dawn, having sailed nicely overnight, the wind gusted fom a sedate 22-25kt to around 33knots - definitely time to tie in the third reef! Took a time, not helped by the loose batten end, high up, trying to catch in anything it could, but I eventually finished in daylight - and was rewarded by seeing a pair of Wandering albatross flying nearby.
We had a great day today, sailing in slowly increasing seas and SW6 wind, anything from 23-27kt, occasionally dropping to below 20kt, making good speed despite the frequent big waves from astern. It was nice to see long spells of speeds of over 6 knots consistently and the boat was behaving well under autopilot- which has been coping fine with the difficult conditions - sometimes in 'windvane' mode,n which I find useful for 'dead downwind' situations when the wind is rather variable, as today.
By sunset, with the wind regularly in the high 20s and waves that much bigger, I was seriously thinking of heaving to, realizing that I'd not be able to rest otherwise overnight, when I caught sight of a mass of dark grey cloud astern... that decided me! By the fast-fading daylight, I hurriedly furled in the stays'l as the cloud came over and the wind started whistling around us, and got us hove-to - just in time, as daylight was gone, the wind was around 30 knots by then and the forecast was for winds to stay up overnight.
It was a good decision and the winds have varied a lot since then from 22 kt to well over 30kt in the frequent gusts. I was able to cook a decent meal and will get a good sleep... Amusingly, Greg on Alcidae', who was hove-to for 36hrs until this morning, is probably still underway in nice winds and little swell where he is now, while it's my turn to be hove-to. Being a good distance apart, I'm now getting the area of wind and swell that he suffered from over Saturday night onward.
Despite over an hour of being hove-to, our 24 hr DMG to noon GMT was 122 n.ml.
Hopefully, by morning, the wind and seas will have died down somewhat so I can get underway again - but there's another, similar, area of big swell and winds forecast for later in the week... I might stay around 40S to avoid the worst of that too....