Just before noon the wind strengthened to gusts of over 30 knots so I rolled in half of the sail and would have gotten a heavy drenching had I not been fully suited up, including hood. This left us doing 5 knots on course SSE. At this point I could have gybed and headed east but my preference was bias to the south until we reached 52-53S.
At noon our position was 49S16, 98W42, giving us a n-n distance 77 miles in the direction 122T. We were 1260 miles from the Horn.
At 3 PM I went to the cockpit because Jeff was slowly giving ground and putting us on a beam reach. The wind was up in the high 30's classifying it as a Force 8 gale, complete with huge seas breaking here and there. There hadn't been much headsail showing but I managed to wind in even more, leaving about 40 sq ft. Then I noticed a bow in the leech of the sail and saw that the sheet car was positioned all of the way aft on the track. Somehow I managed to kick the car half way up the track, which wasn't easy because I was on the leeward side of the deck and the car was under load. It was a needless drama that could have been avoided had I thought ahead. I immediately went to the starboard side and positioned that car properly for when I gybed the boat. With the shortened sail the boat rode easier - as easy as could be expected under the circumstances. We were essentially running before the gale, taking the sea on the starboard quarter on course 160T. According to the grib file, which had not predicted the intensity of the wind, I could not expect relief for another 12 hours.
Undoubtedly there was a low south of us, but unfortunately I did not have the latest weather fax because the radio reception on the previous night had been the worst for weeks. I hadn't even been able to get good voice reception from Australia or New Zealand.
I removed the tarp over the broken spray dodger window. The wind had pushed part of it through the hole in the window and I was afraid that the stress would enlarge the hole. There had been no danger of losing the tarp because I had a difficult time in removing it from around the frame of the dodger.
Mercifully relief came before 12 hours. The wind began to abate almost imperceptibly in the late afternoon, and at 8 PM it was down to the high 20's which seemed downright calm after the earlier winds. It had not changed direction and we went into the night on course 160T at 3 knots. I was hoping for a quiet and uneventful night.
New Years Day would see me still 1200 miles from the Horn but I didn't mind the longer than expected passage, as long as we got there.
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