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Day 5: Friday 18Nov2016 - Strong weather...

Thurs 6pm LT(PST)/Fri 0200GMT Pressure dropping slowly. Got ready on deck for strong weather coming in tonight - tied in mainsail reef2 and reduced genoa a touch. Wind 13kt from SE-SSE - pretty constant in direction now which simplifies things. Reducing sail early slowed us a little but not by much - still making 5.5kt SW with most of genoa unfurled.

Checked staysail, sheets and all lines were ready or stowed, also preventer in case needed (which it will be, if heave to under mainsail alone) - nothing like being prepared and I'll reef down again and/or reduce genoa early as the wind rises - I'm not racing in the Vendee Globe!

Having some tea while food is warming up - nice to have it ready!

Keep checking weather forecasts.

8.30pm Headlamp so very useful in the dark. Getting a little rougher - not so much size of waves, rather that they're getting rather closer. Wind ~20kt, apparent wind higher. Furled away genoa , unfurled staysail. Speed down for a short time but soon back up to over 5 kt. Waiting to tie third reef in mainsail - don't want to kill our speed too soon!

10.30pm Pressure dropped 2 hPa/mb in two hours. Wind 25 kt and rising, seas getting rougher - decided to tie in 3rd reef sooner rather than later. Try to get an hour's sleep?

Friday 4.20am LT/PST (1220GMT) Pressure down to 1006hPaa, wind up to 31kt, bumpy ride.... Wind still from SE so making SW course. Slept well.

9.30am Pressure 995 and still dropping. Centre of Low not far off (at below 990). Still seeing winds at 36-38 kt, occasionally dropping to low 30s. Seas are really throwing us around as they hit our beam and we're well heeled over most of the time, so difficult to move around. Hopefully, we'll soon be out of the worst of it, into less strong winds around 25kt, although seas will still be up for a time and another small belt of stronger winds likely to follow the slight easing.

Seas are constantly thoroughly washing the decks. Put clear hanging screen up beside the chart table to protect area from some drips of water coming in from above the companionway. Haven't needed that for quite a time.

Think it'll be a cereal bar and a banana for b'fast...

12.45pm In the event, it was prunes and almonds - kept at the chart table for times like this! Just had some hot stew for lunch and have a banana ready for later. It's not easy cutting off a banana from a bunch swinging madly as the boat lurches and you have to hang on or be thrown around......

We're in a 'lull' of a mere 25-30 kt of wind just now but rough seas are unchanged.

Sun is shining and I took advantage of daylight earlier to check the cockpit - lines & sheets were in a complete mess with several trailing overboard - a result of the boisterous conditions we've been in. I also furled the staysail slightly to get its clew away from a shroud it had been touching, making a lot of noise. Of course, I got a dousing - wet hair again!

The seas are coming mainly from forward of our port beam, some big ones we plunge into directly - that's when the whole boat gets a washing from bow to stern, over the coachroof and often into the cockpit.

I've also cleared up a bit down below - olive oil spilled from a bottle that landed on the cabin sole and lost its top. Thanks to Rose for bringing some extra butter before I left - I'll definitely need it now, if only for cooking.

More strong winds are expected soon from another Low close to this one - another bout of possibly 35-40 kts - but not long before we can head S and winds ease. I'm keeping us as far as possible from Capes Blanco and Mendocino -they'll be getting nasty seas and strong wind this weekend for quite some distance off, far worse than where I hope to be.

Wind generator has kept batteries well topped up with all this strong wind!

2.30pm Rainclouds..! Back to the 'cloud effect'... One moment, wind has died and with it our speed; a short while later, wind is up strongly, veered, and we're rushing along... but not for long.

Pressure down to 992 hPa - waiting for those strong winds, maybe tonight.

5pm Tea, as a cloud squall passes through... Wind has veered to SSW at 30kt or so... Darkness falling. Got some sleep ready for tonight -expect constant strong winds. Pressure now down at 991 hPa, so Low's centre is close. Seas died down a bit with eased wind over last few hours.

Written by : Jeanne Socrates