The last three days have been pretty horrible. The low pressure system I had jibed south to supposedly get away from decided to backtrack somewhat and eat us alive. What’s ironic is that I was reluctant to jibe, but at least two different grib model sources agreed it looked good. Of course once I was fully committed, the very next day the new weather models said “AHA-HA-HA-HA-HA” (practice your most diabolical laugh here), and I was looking at a bleak situation.
Two nights ago the sea state was so bad that I basically quit racing and tried to slow the boat enough to stop the horrendous slapping and banging and to try to get some rest. Yesterday it took a bunch of sail changes and effort to beat our way around the north side of the low as it moved south. After several big squalls and fire drills, the shift finally settled in and we were again able to sail in a decent direction. But the seas remained really messy, and I sailed at several gears under max to try to maintain my sanity.
Last night the wind howled again and even under only the main with a third reef, I was up almost all night in full gear ready to dash (more like crawl) out in case the pilot lost it and we had a high speed crash. Early in the morning the wind slowly subsided and I could rest, but the seas very slowly eased enough before I felt comfortable in putting up more sail.
Even now, in the afternoon, we are still only flying the working jib and a double reefed main. I have gone out a few times determined to shake out a reef and set the Yankee (we are on a reach), but suspicious clouds and possible squalls lurking about have intimidated me into waiting (yesterday I was fooled several times, so I have reason to be skeptical).
But at last the low is heading off and subsiding, leaving our “B” fleet in disarray. Nick on Skandia was the class of the group, stuck with his plan to the north, and escaped to join the “A-” fleet. We will be lucky to see him again. I don’t think I could have gone that route successfully, as even after my good move around the high I never got close enough to the front of the group that had the chance to do what he did.
So maybe I haven’t done so badly, despite losing some places and a lot of my nerve.
So before the next sail change, time for a delicious “beef stroganoff” at sea…..
Mmmm……needs more tabasco.
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet