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Day 53 from Cape Town to Hobart - wind finally backs and strengthens

Friday 30th March 2012

I'm feeling so much better now that the wind has finally backed to N and so is allowing us to make our course towards the SE Cape of Tasmania and the protected waters beyond, leading to Hobart. I just reefed right down, tying in not just the 2nd reef but 3rd as well. Dark of night is no time to mess around! The apparent wind was up to 30 kt and we were heeling quite a bit, with seas building. Speed has dropped from the 6.4-6.7 kt we were making at times, but we're still making 5-6 kt, so that's fine.

It's been a difficult few days, seeing the nasty weather heading this way and trying to decide how best to keep heading E in an effort to avoid the worst of it, if possible. Using the motor is not normally an option, but it allowed me to keep up some semblance of speed when the winds were light and also to keep heading roughly East, although to keep the sails filled and drawing, we were forced SE more than I liked. It has been quite a balancing act between keeping up some degree of speed and not losing too much position, in the E-NE winds we have had for the last two days.

Having got this close to Tasmania has definitely turned into a good thing - the strongest of the winds are set to pass to the S of our position, along with the biggest swells - due to the High just to the N - at least for the next few days. I may yet have to heave to tomorrow (Sat) but, with any luck, the winds will stay around 30knots, rather than go much higher. They should be backing into the NW by morning and then to W by this time tomorrow evening, so that should make for a more comfortable ride ... winds from abaft the beam are always pleasanter than from ahead! We're presently banging and crashing frequently off waves and into troughs!

Greg on 'Alcidae', 650 mls to the W, is getting the full brunt of the strong weather. When I spoke to him this afternoon (4pm LT), he had just deployed his series drogue (JSD), having heaved to under sail around 7am, after sailing in increasingly difficult seas overnight.... Pressure was down to 980 hPa and still dropping, he said, winds were over 45 knots and seas were 7-8m ... nasty! It sounded as though the centre of the Low was possibly just then passing over him - which would mean the winds would swing to W-WSW from NNE and stay high. He expects to have to stay hove-to for several days, possibly. It suddenly occurred to me that one of the reasons for him wanting to stop in Hobart for repairs was the state of two of his shroud bases- lifting deck-plates & tabs.... I just hope his mast stays put in the strong winds he's getting.... fingers crossed for him.

So long as I can keep going, I should be in safe waters before the system he's suffering from gets too close to me.... that's the plan....

DMG today: 109 n.ml. (good sailing later today) S.E.Cape: 218 n.ml.; Hobart: 275 n.ml.

Written by : Mike

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