The Last Day of Summer!

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 28 Feb 2013 11:13
It's been a bit wet and windy again here. It's rained most days at some point, but mostly showers and once the rain has cleared the sun's come out and the days have been okay, and sometimes hot. Not so last weekend. It rained solidly on Friday and Saturday without a break, heavy, wind driven rain. Another weather system had started in the north along the Queensland coast and increased in intensity as it moved south, following a track not unlike ex-cyclone Oswald a couple of weeks earlier. The forecast was for winds up to 40kts or more and unlike when Oswald came past us, the winds here did get much closer to forecast. Again we took the bimini down and lashed everything securely in readiness for the strong winds. Prior to Oswald, we had never taken the bimini down for strong winds since it went up on leaving Las Palmas over 4 years ago, so to take it down twice within 3 weeks, shows the violence of the weather here when it turns ugly. In situations like this we try to have the boat ready to sail/motor to somewhere safe to anchor should the mooring give way. The instruments go on and at night we have the wind alarm and anchor alarm on, just in case. The wind was strong throughout the 2 days and the maximum strength we recorded on the boat was 33kts. Again we got a lot of protection from Scotland Island and other places had much stronger winds. Today, 28th February, is officially the last day of summer, as they repeatedly remind us on the radio. It's raining again and rain is forecast to continue all day tomorrow. Hope the autumn is a bit drier - we have a deck to work on and varnishing to do in the cockpit. It's times like these that we think fondly of Porto Santo, just to the northeast of Madeira. When we arrived there on our first trip back in 1995, it hadn't rained for 4 years!
Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty good days and we did make good progress on a couple of projects - we've now replaced our cutter stay with a furling system. Up to now we've had to hank on the staysail or storm jib in the old fashioned way. The furler should make it much easier and give us a 'lower gear' when the winds gets up. At the moment we don't have a sail for it, but a local sailmaker is in the process of converting our existing staysail and we hope to get it back next week, when we can try it all out. If it's all okay we'll also have our storm jib converted. The second project is having curtains made for the bimini so the cockpit is enclosed and stays dry when it rains. They can only be used at anchor as when up we can't use any of the winches or mainsheet - makes sailing a bit difficult! We've had the first 'fitting' and we hope to get it completed next week. Perhaps that's what's needed to get a decent dry spell!