Maundy Thursday 1st April (Day24)
I hear the daffodils are out in England! Here, there's a murky grey overcast - and definitely no daffodils!! But we did set a speed record on 'Nereida' last night in strong conditions... sailing 104 mls in 13h 40m, giving an average speed of 7.6 knots over the period! We were regularly making over 8 knots with double-reefed main, although I have to admit I was forever on the verge of taking in the 3rd reef.... but kept waiting to see how we fared - OK, in fact! Conditions got rather rough with the continuing strong wind making for a good-sized swell but nothing too bad. I bore away (came off the wind) a touch, to make life a little more pleasant. This morning, we're back down to just 18-20 knots of wind and a more sedate 7 knots of speed - which is very acceptable! I'm still waiting for a cold front to pass by which will put us on to a starboard tack - should be sometime today. It will give a windshift to SW from the present NNW, although I'm hoping the windshift will be more gradual than the usual sudden one...
I forgot to mention that while I was putting in the 2nd reef strop on Wed, the topping lift, which had just beforehand come loose & was flying wildly all over the place in the wind & swell, came close enough for me to grab .... Most unusual - it's normally impossible to get hold of once it's come away from the boom end but I was perched up high in the cockpit, leaning over the boom tying in the strop at the time, so I was lucky for a change. The topping lift is now safely stowed at the mast, ready for possible use as a trysail halyard.
Good Friday 2nd April (Day 25)
Well, we certainly got that windshift yesterday afternoon. I was at the mast looking carefully at the two reef lines 1&2 leading from the boom, wondering what exactly to do about the chafe there, as the wind got lighter and lighter... Then it started drizzling. I'd centred the main because the boom was flopping around in the swell & light wind and had managed to gybe the genoa by changing course slightly to put the wind aft. I let out the full genoa, released the portside running backstay & prepared the starboard one, ready for the expected gybe on to starboard tack... and then realized the wind was backing and building rapidly..... very rapidly!! I had to winch fast to furl in all & more of the genoa that I'd just let out.... and then more... The wind built to around 30knots from the S and we were making good speed (very!) on a broad reach under double-reefed main. Initially, I didn't reef the main further ... but with the boat being so often knocked over by strong gusts & the big seas that soon built up, together with the uncomfortable heeling all the time, I realized I had to. As usual, it took a time and a lot of effort, but finally it was done, in time for nightfall and an uncomfortable night of crashing about and seas breaking on deck... I decided not to tension the kicker as much as before so as to leave the boom higher - I had seen it touch the water at least once when we were knocked around by the steep-sided waves, so a higher boom seemed eminently sensible!
The birds, a different albatross among them, certainly enjoyed the conditions, unlike me! I cannot say I spent a comfortable night, For a start, I'd allowed myself to get soaked yet again and wet hair doesn't dry too well around here (air temperature is down to 16C) and clothes hung up to dry that I picked to change into were, I found, still very damp. But I did go & find some lovely dry thick fleeces so now I'm warm. (I'm writing this cosily tucked up in my bunk, listening to music!) It's so difficult moving around safely to do anything, even just crossing the cabin to get to the chart table, in such strong conditions - It's "two hands for the boat"... not the usual "one hand ..."!
I was absolutely delighted when I found a bumper load of 'post' with Easter greetings and news from friends in my email Inbox later on .... Thank you so much for those lovely emails - I'll reply over this weekend - but they really cheered me up just when I badly needed it!
One problem overnight was my course - with a S-SSE wind, I was forced to head ENE-NE ... and, quite close to that course, I suddenly spotted Ile St Paul - less than 100 miles away. Fortunately, we were able to make a course of 070T which kept the little French island a good 50 miles away at its closest today - but I kept checking until we had passed it..... The bigger, nearby island of Amsterdam, also French, is another 50miles further N. Both important bird nesting places. The wind is expected to shift more to the SW, maybe W, over tomorrow, so then I'll be able to head more S & get back nearer to 40S which in turn would keep a couple of high pressure areas to N of me, which would give me a good wind direction for heading E. (As I wrote that, there was a loud 'crash' & the whole boat shuddered and jumped, as it was hit by a wave crest..! ....water rushing all over the decks...!)
Good distances covered in these strong conditions! But all jobs are on hold, waiting for calmer conditions!
Noon-to-noon (UTC!) distances covered (DMG: distance-made-good) (see 'Travels' page on website for link to my track on Google Earth)
Thursday: 168 n.ml.
Friday: 141 n.ml.