The evening grib file predicted that the wind would clock back throughout the night from NW to W to SW. This meant a gybe at around dawn and I hoped to delay it until daylight.
The 2.30 AM weather fax showed the benevolent low at 991 hPa directly south at about lat 50S. A cold front would pass over me during the night and it looked like the backing of the wind predicted by the grib file was the result of the low moving to the east. The wind had backed somewhat but our heading was still to the south of east, at about 105T. I set the alarm for 5.30 AM which would put me in daylight after I suited up for the gybe.
But at 4.30 AM I was up again and saw that we were heading due east. I wasn't going to get any more sleep until this gybe had been executed so I decided to do it then, in the dark. When I emerged on deck at 4.45 AM (La Paz time) I was surprise to find enough weak light in the sky to see reasonably well, though I still needed the head torch and deck light. It turned out to be first light and by the time I had completed the gybe dawn was firmly established. The weather was still overcast and drizzly. The wind had weakened to perhaps 12 knots and we were now headed on course 170 at only 3.0-3.3 knots. The important question was how long the wind would last, weak or otherwise. I expected our heading to change toward the east as the wind backed. We were now east of long 114W and closing in on lat 42S.
Matt, the intrepid sailor rounding the Horn in his small boat, had taken off like a jack rabbit while I was hove to during those days of my wind problems and had sailed right off my chart, putting him over 500 miles away. I wished him Godspeed and was interested in following his progress but otherwise had no concern whatsoever about the increasing gap between us. I was too busy dealing with my own priority, which was to get this boat around the Horn safely. That night Victor had sent me a comforting message from Fremantle: "Langsam langsam aber weiter" which I think was translated in his subject line, "Slowly slowly catchee monkey".
At 11 AM I was woken from my nap by a dose of sunlight passing through the hatch. Thirty minutes later I went topside to find that 2/3 of the sky had cleared to the north and above were cirrus and cirrostratus clouds. I saws two birds prowling the waves on the port side of the boat. After a worrying sag in the wind it had picked up as the grib file had predicted and we were making over 4 knots on course 135T from a 14 knot wind. I checked the meter and the battery bank was netting a positive 1-5.5 amps depending on the status of the refrigerator in its cycle. The solar panels were delivering 7.5 amps and the wind charger was averaging about 1 amp.
Our noon position was 42S01, 113W45, giving us a n-n distance of 77 miles in the direction 125T. We had managed to make some tangible progress throughout the past difficult days of becalming's and disappointing winds. We were now south of Puerto Montt, Chile 1800 miles to the east, and less than 2000 miles from the Horn. After the noon report I went topside to enjoy the warmth of the sun.
Afterwards I had a look at the sprouts (needed more time) and the yogurt. For the second consecutive time the yogurt was a disappointment. I wound up with slightly sour milk rather than yogurt. Brenda had warned me that the strain would weaken over time, and I figured that is what had happened. It was a great run while it lasted and I had many great deserts of cold yogurt with raisins.
As night approached I decided to put up the mainsail. I was betting that the SW/S winds would last the night and would gradually die down. The prospects of reaching all night in a moderating wind warranted the trouble of raising the mainsail. Not unusually, I didn't miss the opportunity to give myself a hard learned lesson. The track of the trysail is on the port side of the mast, to leeward of the mainsail track because we were on a starboard tack. I decided to get clever and raise the mainsail while the trysail was up. The hoist went fine, The trysail helped drive the boat as I hoisted, then the mainsail peeled right past it with no problem. I wound up with the mainsail drawing and working with the trysail snuggled behind it doing nothing. I didn't think it a good idea to leave the two sails up together because it might lead to chafing, so I went forward to drop the trysail. It would not come down because the battens and slides of the mainsail were to leeward and crowding the trysail track. I tried brute force, pulling on the trysail from part way up the mast, luffing the mainsail, etc but nothing worked and in the end I had to tack the boat which back winded all of the sails as well as almost stopping the boat. Then I could work in peace and bring the trysail down and secure it on the deck. I then gybed the boat to get back on the starboard tack. So next time, trysail down before mainsail up.
At 9 PM boat time it was still daylight and we were moving at 4.5 knots with a 12 knot wind on the starboard beam, heading 135T. It had been a splendid day of sailing, with a good strong wind of over 15 knots all afternoon giving us a speed averaging about 5 knots using just the trysail, staysail, and a bit of headsail.
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