OSTAR Qualifier

British Beagle
Charles Emmett
Mon 20 May 2013 12:26
From Ridiculous to Sublime
Tuesday 14/05
12.00 hours
47 21 24 N - 06 47 21 W
Approximately 100 miles SW of Brest on the edge of the continental shelf in Biscay
It hit be like a sledge hammer – coming from nowhere.  I have been enjoying great conditions for 24 hours sailing SW with about another 75 miles to go until I turn and head for home but the wind has just jumped from 18kn to 35kn AWS in seconds.  I have put 3 reefs in the main rolled away the Jib and have no option but to tack and run down the wind. Cog 355° - boat speed 7.8kn - AWA 110°
15.00 hours
I have now been running down the Westerly force 9 for the last 4 hours and it shows no sign of blowing out.  The wind has been consistently between 38 – 42 knots AWS and I have registered 47kn AWS in a gust. As I am sometimes doing 11kn down the swells, this suggests that true wind speed is probably well over 50kn. The sea state is very rough with swells the height of my second spreaders at around 40 ft. There is a huge volume of water coming over the boat and every time a wave breaks over me I expect something to break.  The swell is on my quarter so I get knocked sideways on every big one – but all that said, the mighty British Beagle seems to handle it and just regains her course and ploughs on like a steam train – it is almost as if she enjoys the challenge saying ‘come on – is that all you’ve got?’ – unlike her skipper who is not enjoying it at all!!!
I am now becoming deeply concerned as the wind has backed in to the NW @ 320° and I can only make cog of 055° on AWA 100° unable to put the wind forward of the beam in these conditions.  This is going to leave me in danger of ending up on a lee-shore at Cap Finistaire with nowhere to run to!  If there is no change in the next 2-3 hours I will have to consider going hove-to and waiting for it to blow through. As I am still 60 miles offshore I can wait to make this decision so have decided to sit it out for the time being.
The wind has dropped to around 30° AWS and although the sea is still very rough, I have no option but to put the boat back on the wind and try to sail higher for a few hours.  Set course at 010°
Wednesday 15/05
00.30 hours
Made it – just squeezed past Ushant by about 20 miles – just now need to get 40 miles further north to clear the traffic separation zones
04.45 hours
Given up trying to sail north as the wind has got back up to 35+ so I have to bear away and get off the wind once more. I have had to revert to a bit of good old fashioned chart work as my plotter does not seem to show the zones and there has been a lot of commercial traffic around me – went straight down the middle of the two zones – got away with it! I am very tired as I have not been able to sleep at all during the night - also I am convinced that there is someone else on the boat with me as I keep hearing singing – it sounds like Johnny Cash
49 01 42 N – 05 18 27 W
What a night!
The sun is now out – the wind has dropped to 15kn –I have shaken out all the reefs in the main and have a full jib out - I am cracked off and sailing fast towards Guernsey with less than 200 miles to go.  The trials and tribulations of the last 24 hours are almost forgotten – it just doesn’t get any better than this and this is why we do it - WooHooo

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