The night began rough. The wind had backed which was good, but the boat was beating into short and steep waves. With the headsail rolled in we slowed to 4 knots and the boat was still having a tough time. I wasn't interested in increasing sail until the sea calmed down.
At 3 AM I woke up to more sound and fury. The boat was doing 5.5 knots in the howling wind, with just its single reef and staysail. After watching things for a while I gloved up and was ready to drop the second slab of mainsail when things steadied a bit. Although the boat was moving fast, it wasn't slamming into waves or heeling excessively. I eased the mainsheet to reduce the heel a bit more and left it at that. Thirty minutes later the wind was back to 15 kts and all was well. Very well. The sailing divas had sent a NE wind and all night we had been on badly needed SE track. We had moved from longitude 124W06 to 123W54 in just a few hours. Two sets of spot wind and wave predictions that Stephen had sent to me indicated a lot of ENE and NE winds in the next few days and I had been surprised and delighted. Being in the SE trade winds I had expected SE and E winds exclusively. These northern components to the wind, if they eventuate, will help me work my way further east.
I made a cup of Milo and went over yet again the notes that I had taken from Dan of Pt Townsend Rigging's advice on managing my sails: 1st reef in winds of 18-24 kts, 2nd reef in 24-30 kts, go to the trysail at 30 kts. The numbers from the wind indicator jump around a lot so I have to do mental averaging, but I'd say that the maximum apparent wind that I had seen was 22 kts.
Then we went into a long bout of drizzle and the wind died. I spent about 30 minutes collecting 12 liters of water from the mainsail which I would use for bathing and washing clothes. It took so long because it was only a light drizzle. At the end of that the mainsail was flogging so hard as the boat rolled that I dropped it rather than risk damaging it. This exposed the downside of removing the lazy jacks: the sail wound up sprawled on one side of the deck. I decided to leave the staysail up. By this time I was pretty wet so I had a deluxe cockpit fresh water bath complete with hair and beard shampoo. Then I went to the drawer and pulled out a fresh set of underclothes. At 6 AM the wind was still weak and erratic so I decided to go back to bed for a couple of hours and assess the situation in daylight. The boat was drifting south at 1 knot.
After a shallow sleep of 1 hour I got up again. Dawn was breaking and I wanted to see if there was any wind for sailing. After toast and coffee I suited up properly in my foul weather gear. I had had enough of exposure to the drizzle and breeze. The wind looked just good enough so I started the engine in case it might be useful. Besides, an early engine run would suit me because it would help warm and dry the cabin. The engine did help because it provided enough forward motion to enable Jeff to take over the steering, slightly off the wind. This left me free to concentrate on the sail. I encountered a few snags in hoisting the mainsail and I was very glad that I was doing it in daylight. By the time the mainsail was up the engine had run for one hour so I turned it off and was relieved to see that there was enough wind to support the sail. I then rolled out some jib and at 9 AM we were on the move again, to the south. An hour later the wind had strengthened and we were doing just over 5 knots which satisfied me, particularly since the course was slightly east of south.
At noon our position was 20S57, 123W59, giving us a n-n distance of 81 miles. We had moved 1.4 degrees to the south. Given the difficulties of the night I wa happy with this progress.
After lunch I had a very relaxing and restful sleep. When I woke up at 2 PM the boat seemed quiet as a mouse, happily ambling along at just over 4 knots. Unfortunately I have an obligation to make reasonable haste so I upset the tranquility by shaking out the 2nd reef and taking the boat speed to above 5 knots. Then the wind veered and picked up speed and by 2.30 PM we were doing 5.8-6 knots on course 210.
After a cup of tea I felt energetic enough to visit the contents of my life vest/harness (PFD). On each side of the PFD is a fold of material held closed by velcro. When the PFD inflates the velcro gives way and the PFD inflates. Inside right fold is the inflation cartridge, a whistle, and a strobe light that I put in there in New Zealand. The strobe light was still working. Inside the left fold is a tube for inflating the life jacket by mouth and a "Fast Find" Personal Location Beacon (PLB) Model 210 that I purchased in Hawaii. It will not float but is submersible to 10 meters for 5 minutes and has a built in GPS and other features. The 6V lithium battery is good for 5 years and expires in January 2015. The self test went fine. These measures would be a long shot if I find myself in the water, particularly in cold water. However, it is better to have them than not to have them, and even better yet not to ever have to use them.
At 8 PM we were headed south at 5 kt in a calm sea with a moderate 12 kt breeze. Ahead the horizon seemed clear so just maybe I had outrun the rain. The sailing was very pleasant and I was hoping for an easy night.
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