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Starblazer - 09/11/2016 – The curate’s egg!

The past 24 hours has been a mixture of good, challenging and frustrating
thanks to the vagaries of the Wind Gods. We continued our forward charge
with the sails out either side, rocking and rolling our way to the next
waypoint where we were to turn to get a bit more easting in. The course we
were on would, in fact, take us almost directly to Tortola if the wind
direction stayed the same. As we get further south we expect the trade
winds to start making their presence felt, being predominantly easterly
rather than the northerlies we are currently experiencing. This would make
our southeast passage a close beat which is not the most pleasant point of
sail. We had a 1,000 mile beat to New Zealand and have no wish to have that
experience again!

We made our course alteration at 1000, a modest 20 degrees which we expected
to give us a broad reach. On this point of sail the wind comes from just
aft of midships but far enough forward for the headsail to get some clean
air and not be blanketed by the mainsail. It worked for a while before the
wind backed from NNE to N, enough to cause the mainsail to blanket our jib,
so we gybed the jib and held it out on the pole. The day’s run to noon was a
pleasing 155.4 miles. The wind had abated somewhat overnight but the seas
were still rather large but, after our course change, they were more
comfortable because they were hitting the boat more squarely.

Since noon frustration has begun to set in. The wind started dying so we
shook out both reefs early afternoon. We continued to make steady progress
then, during dinner, the speed shot up. When it showed 8 knots on the GPS
and 23 knots of apparent wind it didn’t take a genius to calculate the
combined total (because the wind was from nearly straight behind). 29 knots
with full sail up was still comfortable but the fear is always that the wind
might continue to build and we would shortly be starting our watch system. I
went to the mast while John helmed towards the wind and I dropped in two
reefs. By the time that was finished the wind had dropped to 15-20 knots of
true wind and our speed had reduced to about 6.5 knots.

At 2300 watch change John reported some very light winds but the average
speed was still about 4.5-5, not fast but acceptable. Around midnight it
dropped further and, for about a quarter of an hour, we were drifting at 2
knots! I didn’t want to start the engine for two reasons: John would wake
up instantly and there was a chance that the wind would return. It did,
slightly. At the 0200 watch change I went to the mast, John helmed, I shook
out the reefs. This is a disadvantage of sailing double handed; if the wind
suddenly builds and a reef is needed there is no question about rousing the
off watch but sailing slowly, while frustrating, does not really need
instant attention. With more crew the reefs would have been shaken out at
midnight. Now, with another hour to go on my watch, the speed is down to 2
knots so I’m going to start the engine and hope John goes back to sleep

John: and then the wind came back a bit so she didn’t start it.

Dinner was open cooked BBQ spare ribs with roast sweet potato slices, leeks
and broccoli.


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