Saturday, May 28, 2011

Night School

Last night about this time I looked at the wind instruments - 21 knots - "oh shit" I thought. Tonight I looked at it again - 21 knots - "Oh good" I thought. In between the wind had risen steadily to 26 knots and gusts of 29 knots and the sea state became increasingly chaotic as a more northerly swell was whipped up and clashed with the easterly one. I had only ever sailed in wind over 22 knots twice before and both times it was a downwind ride, a very different state of affairs from what I was doing last night, trying to maintain some sort of close reach, and into seas much bigger than I had sailed in before. So it was a tense night as I edged my way up another steep learning curve, trying to manage the boat to minimize the crunching drops off short steep waves in the first part of the night, and minimize the number of inundating deluges that erupted off the bow and swept along the deck, often splashing down onto the dodger and into the cockpit. The real problem was the confused sea state which by the morning had evened out somewhat. I decided early on that all I wanted to do was keep the boat moving enough so that it could maintain a safe angle to the oncoming swells, which were certainly 2 if not 3 to 4 metres high at times, Therefore I took in a second reef on the mainsail and rolled the headsail up to almost nothing, then after observing the response, gradually let it out till I had the desired result. We moved at about 3 knots and maintained a nice angle to the predominant swells, the dropping off of waves stopped and eventually we got drenched by a gig wave from the side about once every 20 minutes. The headsail was quite tiny and it amazed me how little extra needed to be unfurled to get the boat moving . Another thing that amazed, even startled and gave me serial frights was how physical and loud could the bangs be as waves collided with the boat - at times it was as if you had been T-boned by a truck on an intersection! The whole boat would shake, sometimes lean over a bit more, seem to stop momentarily and then plough on. So this went on all night, I hardly slept, and for most of the day it hasn't been much better. However in the last 2 or 3 hours the wind has started to moderate though the swells are still challenging, and I expect tonight will go a little better.

Not surprisingly with all that water flooding across the boat, the tiniest little gaps have permitted annoying drips to appear at various places, just enough to dampen things and add slipperiness to the cabin sole (floor) But the Bilges and the stern gland remain dry, and the Hydrovane bolts firm. Really the boat is working its way through the sea quite wonderfully, and after sitting out in the cockpit and observing how it all works, I am always reassured.

One last thing :I haven't been able to do any reading today, but I remember from yesterday an amazing fact about galaxies - of which the Milky Way is one - there are now thought to be so many galaxies in the universe, that if they were all reduced to the size of a frozen pea ( why frozen and not unfrozen I am not sure) they would fill the Albert Hall. That's a lot of galaxies!

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

No comments:

Post a Comment