Fiji here we come

Lars Alfredson
Wed 29 May 2013 09:22
Pos 19:40.88S 176:40.85W

20130529 Wednesday - Things that go bump in the night

0400 there's nasty grinding noise going on up at the bow. The wind has turned sooner than forecast and as the boat turned the anchor chain is now grinding over a coral head.

0500 The whole yacht judders. A quick check shows we still have 4.5 metres of water under us. There it goes again, this time we realise it coming from the stern and in the torch light we can see a head immediately beneath the rudder which pounds into it when the troughs of the seas that are now building up drop us downwards.

Winding in the anchor to move us off it, we decide as were up and by now wide awake, we might as well go, getting an early start on our 400 nmiles leg to Fiji.

By daybreak were starting to clear the islands so with jib already out we turn into the wind to raise the main with the second reef already in.

As the day progresses the wind increases and the already confused seas get bigger. We're taking a bit of a battering rolling through 40 degrees with seas running down the deck as the wind pick up to 35+ knots.

Lunch, egg rolls and a beer, made and served from a bouncing galley while leaning horizontally and clutching onto the worktop.

We're ploughing into enormous five metre seas at 10 to 11 knots screaming from the wave tops sending her nose plunging as we overtake the walls of water that strike her just off the stern quarter. It's all too much for the autopilot which keeps dropping out; changing to the spare systems is no better and we are continually resetting it.

We check battery charge as the autopilot takes a heavy drain in these conditions. Although ok it will need a top up, but the Generator has taken the hump and keeps cutting out. The pounding has evidently upset the system, so we have to run the main engine

At 1800 we make the decision to drop the reefed Main, easier said than done. Lars dons his safety line and heads forward toward the mast as I bring her into the wind. The size of the seas is now apparent as we meet them head on and I'm sprayed with spindrift as the wind picks up the spray from their wave tops.

The Jib's already rolled in, yet trying to hold the Yatch into the wind with the engine straining is a nightmare, as the seas keep knocking the bow off course. It's worse for Lars. As the deck pitches and rolls, the seas coming over the bow give him a good soaking as he struggles to bring the sail down.

At last we've tamed the beast and running under a third of a rolled jib, we're still doing 8 knots though with some improvement to the rolling motion. The disadvantage now we've lost speed is that we are in danger of getting "pooped" with waves trying to break over our stern threatening to flood the cockpit..

It's time to take down a weather forecast (Grib) at which time we can send this Blog

So as the Sun has set and we prepare ourselves a long night ahead we wish all our readers a happy and peaceful night. It's hell at sea !!

Bob the Blog