Days 6 & 7 - Storm came ... so 'blog' postponed - difficult in rough conditions!

I can't believe how slow this passage south is - previously, it's taken from 5 to 7 days maximum from Neah Bay (at entrance to Strait of Juan de Fuca) to San Francisco .... but today (Day 7, Monday), we're still trying to get past Cape Blanco beating into a SW wind! Each of those previous times, twice in October and once in May, I had winds from the north, with High pressure to my west....

Sunday 31st October (Day 6)

Around 6am, the light wind (7-8 kt) veered from SSE to SSW - better since ESE course could be laid - not fantastic but a lot better than the previous ENE! I always hate having to go north when I want to head south.... I had deliberately given myself plenty of searoom by heading W more, so heading slowly towards the coast for a time was OK. And being more west might have been the reason why the wind was not as bad as f'cast.. grib files showed a band of lighter winds here among the strong winds...

I took in all reefs and put out the staysail in readiness for the 'big blow' expected. Talk about 'the calm before the storm' - absolutely so!! We had flopped about Saturday night and into Sunday morning... but around 8am the wind began to increase and pressure dropped slightly. By 6pm it had reached 27-30 knots from the S, with building 3-4m seas. Not until 6am Monday did it suddenly 'switch off', with the wind shifting to WNW and dying rapidly to 9-10 knots. By 10am it had backed to the SW where it stayed, more-or-less, all day.

My worry is that winds will get too light for heading S after the storm - that's a definite possibility... And more strong S winds are forecast for later this week - getting S is not going to be easy!!

While waiting for the storm to hit & thinking about food for that evening, I remembered the big fresh prawns, sitting frozen in the depths of my fridge, that Kathy & Mark had brought me when they made a special trip down from Nanaimo to see me just before I left...I decided on a prawn curry - which worked fine with fresh tomatoes and onions. I had to cook the prawns anyway to peel them and had some separately before adding the rest in to the curry - they were supremely tasty!!

Can't do anything to fix solar or wind power problems just now - must wait for calmer weather!!

I'm checking in around 2230 UTC on 14300 kHz to the Maritime Mobile Net in the US - Roy, KR6RG, near San Diego, took my details and posted them on Shiptrak on Sunday and Rex, KC5AGO, in Texas, did so on Monday. Each time they checked if all OK on board and queried if my problems had been sorted out yet. It's a 24hr Net, run by volunteers, that is also there to help anyone in an emergency.

Monday 1st November

Writing this at sunset - we've been under grey skies, with lots of rain, all day - suddenly a beam of bright orange shot through the cabin - a spectacular sunset with a tiny band of clear sky on the W horizon!

It's been so frustrating today. After the 32-34 kt of overnight suddenly died down to 7 kt eventually, I've been on deck a lot of the time, shaking out reefs, adjusting sail trim, tacking, gybing... anything to try to get us to head S in a shifty wind, mainly from the S-SW which makes it impossible to sail a good course. When it came from WNW, that was great because we could head due S!! We've just re-traced our path (10 miles in total!) from earlier, and are,yet again, now heading SE - directly for Cape Blanco, in fact... We're 100 mls NW of it and from Coos River.

I'm trying to keep well clear of the coast, especially between Capes Blanco and Mendocino since they have a well-earned bad reputation for their own nasty weather and seas, but the SW wind is forcing me to head closer in. The alternative is to head W-NW, depending on the wind direction. And being close to the wind really slows us down, trying to make a reasonable course. A definite tidal current has often also not helped. Seas have calmed down a lot now from overnight - then it was really difficult to move about at all, let alone safely!

Present plan is to tack or gybe around (depending on boatspeed!) once we reach 126W - I don't wish to get closer to land than that. (I'm now seeing some shipping I didn't see when well offshore.) Present weather forecasts are not looking helpful - either strong southerlies or light fickle winds for this week, possibly combined with some big swell at times ... The frustrations look set to continue!!

One piece of good news is that I managed to stop my propshaft from spinning when we make decent speed. Since the gear cables were wired to prevent engine use in forward gear (a mistake to wire that, I now wonder?), I've been unable to engage reverse gear, as had been intended, so unable to prevent the prop from spinning. (Normally, I engage forward gear when sailing to stop the prop from turning) But in light winds on Monday, it occurred to me that it was the ideal time to tie a cord around the gearbox-propshaft connection while it was stationary - that seems to have worked ... and it's easy to remove.

As I'm about to post this, the wind has backed to SSW... I might have to change tack soon ... but first I must eat!

Written by : Mike

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