Day 16 of Lazy Dawns Ocean adventure!!!

Tue 6 Dec 2005 18:21
Hi All its been another gripping ride here on Lazy Dawn. The kite was up all day and night ( Now almost 6 days in total ) and some high speed surfing enabled us to edge another 184.8 mile closer to the finish line!!
The trades have become a little less friendly and the squalls are all around us, making life a bit interesting as you never quite know if the black monster looming up upon us will pass by or surrender its pay load of rain and high winds upon us!! We had some showers over night but nothing to bad... Until Peter suggested we got up around 6.30 as some serious black clouds had undertaken a pincer move and blocked us in on three sides. It was time for the fight; we were trapped and had nowhere to hide!!
The wind dies ( Calm before the storm ) then bang the wind moves 50 degrees left or right and then the rain starts and it not a small shower its a ragging  torrent like some one is tipping  5 gallon buckets of water straight down on your head. It's great, you can't see much and of course the sail plan is all wrong for the new wind direction and strength!! The sea state is also totally confused not long slow Atlantic roller but short sharp chop slapping the boat form all directions. It more akin to white water rafting in a Laser dinghy than ocean sailing in a 40' yacht.
Each time one of these chaps gets you, then you have to change course and usually change some sails unless you have planned for it and reefed in early!!  Well of course we reefed ( well we had one reef in!) All in all it was a bit to much for Antony ( The Autohelm ) he is a light wind and wave chap and can't cut the mustard in the big seas and swells. So the real men have to step in.. ( Or you reef lots more!!  Jo was quite unimpressed  ) as Chris and Peter played like kids surfing  Lazy down the big swells.
We had 2 hours till 12.00 and if we kept the heat on we could crack the 180 mile barrier for the second time in two days, maintain our new position ahead of all the other 40.7s, including those racing, and that was a challenge just to good to let go!! So we battled the weather and won!! We made the 180 mark and also broke  ( Correction smashed! ) the water speed record for Lazy Dawn!!! It has stood at 13.4 knots for over a year as this speed was established on the delivery trip last year. Even the speed freak RJ could not top it in this years Fastnet, but today, it has finally been beaten. First at 13.7 knots after a 30 second plane down a serious wave. This was cool but only the warm up!! soon after this the boat was picked up by a huge wave almost stood her upright on the nose and then released  her like a 4 man bob down the Crestar run!! as the boat accelerated we overtook the wave in front and instead of slowing down accelerated again final top speed was 13.9 knots!! AWESOME!! then some big high five and smile all round on deck!!
After all the excitement and the 12.00 position report we maintained focus on keeping the boat upright and ensuring we all remained safe and sound. We have now tried 1, 2, and 3 reefs in  the main with kite, without kite and various amounts of Genoa with limited effect. All sail plans have the boat tossing and turning in the swell. So we have now elected for the Parasail only no main at all ( Hope this is enough reefs for Jo! who adds a modicum of sensibility into an otherwise testosterone fuelled cockpit ) But we are still quite on the edge at present. The guy and sheet sound like piano wires as the 20 knots of wind build as the boat yaws on the swell quite something!!
Tonight  will be just the Genoa as we can't continue with this level of strain on the boat and us all the time, but in short spells it FANTASTIC!!!
Jo was a total star bringing the boy's bacon rolls mid morning ( and mid squall ) and a serious helping of corn beef hash for lunch  followed by peaches and custard!! ( Baden Powell  would be proud of this feast ) to build up our strengths for the sail ahead.
We have passed the 2500 mile point this morning and have only 570 to go so less than a Fastnet!
Lets hope we can keep the boat moving for the next couple of days to get us home safe and sound!!