Friday, November 7, 2008

Ushuaia to Stanley: Day Three

Calm day wild night Dawn woke those on board with a smile as the seas had flattened out and started to rock people to sleep as opposed to throwing them out of their bunks. Calm smooth sailing continued all morning and I actually was able to sleep for more than half an hour. The after noon saw increasing breeze from the north and we started to prepare the boat for yet another nighttime blow: four reefs in the main, yankee No2 reduced by 30% and the staysail by 20%. As sure as water always tries to find its level, the winds built and built to relieve its forces. By 9pm we had over 40 knots true over the deck, sailing close hauled ... by 12 midnight we had furled the yankee and settled the boat down to a calmer 8 knots, instead of the on-the-edge 9.5 upwind. The shift that we were expecting happened as predicted, but like watching a kettle boil, it happened so slow. Alone on watch, I had decided to make yet another cup of tea, and by the time I had arrived back at the chart table it had started to turn: 5, 10 and then 20 degrees, it was turning and dropping as I sat there all within two minutes; in 10 minutes it had changed 120 degrees and the boat had virtually come to a standstill. With no yankee out, the boat had come down to 2.9 knots of boat speed and the auto pilot wasn't going to have anything to do with it! It wouldn't and couldn't hold course - we needed speed to give steerage way. On deck I quickly turned off the auto pilot, unfurled the yankee, and sheeted on. Hand steering, I slowly brought her back to the wind, which now was an entirely different heading. With sails set now for a beam/broad reach we gained way, and the wind gain as well - even faster. This new shift was a demon: within minutes we were back to 38 knots, 15 minutes later it was 44. Night grew into a faint dawn and the watches changed. I was exhausted but stayed with the others for an hour to see if there were going to be any other surprises. Thankfully not ... the wind speed remained a consistent at 38 to 42 knots, with a wind angle of120 degrees, giving Xplore a well and truly needed nudge in the right direction. ~ Stephen

No comments:

Post a Comment