Saturday 14th August 1814 Local
Yesterday morning, Friday the 13th we left a very
windy and exposed anchorage on the west side of a small island to the west of
Tongatapu and headed off out through the reef.
We made the decision to go, though the forecast was
for strong winds, because the anchorage was not very interesting and because,
although the winds were strong they would be behind us and that would make for a
The wind was 27 knots when we got the anchor
up. We cleared the reef at 0900 and got every bit of sail up. Our
"three piece suit" - full main to port, genoa poled out to starboard and the jib
flying to leeward! White out!
There was a rough sea and large swell running. With
the wind over my right shoulder blade at 150 deg to course we were tanking
along. The seas got bigger and the wind steadily stronger. The seas were running
at 3 - 4 metres and the wind firmed up to 28 - 30 knots. As long as we were
moving along at 11 knots our apparent wind was only some 16 or seventeen knots
so it was fine.
Rhiann Marie has never really been lifted by waves
and surfed. Mostly the seas pass underneath her and we don't get the headline 12
knots split second surfs, that smaller lighter boats get, followed by the
six knots when you fall off the back of the wave. What we do get however is high
average speeds with steady 9 - 10 knots over the course of a passage not being
Yesterday however, with Trish sleeping below I was
having a blast with the "big lady" (s/y Rhiann Marie) charging down waves and
hitting some high spot speeds. The boat was by now (after midnight) fully
powered up and the wind was at 160 deg to our course and the wind was now
up at 33 knots charging through the black of last night. However in these
conditions the "slot" in which we were sailing was all too narrow maybe 20
degrees or so. Ten degrees to port and we might gybe, ten degrees to starboard
and we may broach.
I was thinking "something is going to break". And
so it did. First I broke my speed record witrh a 16 knot surf - not bad for
forty tonnes of GRP, steel and shoes and handbags! Then we rolled into a port
gybe that Ben Ainslie would have been proud of - had we tried to do
it. The rudder had lost all grip and there was no way I could pull her back.
Then the snatch block holding the boom preventer broke. Well not really
broke - more exploded! I think its called a crash gybe or chinese gybe, I'm
not sure, but it was such a burach I had to take the risk and shout Trish
from her slumber to hold the wheel while under her watchful glower I put away
some of the excessive amounts of canvas being deployed. Whew! it was
spectacular. With the brakes on back I went to steady eddy ten knots! What
a run - but guess what? - only 226 miles for the day proving the point that
you can forget all these high spot speeds and what counts is our old friend VMG
over the course ........ a bit like life
Those of you who are alert while reading this may
have noticed our longitude. Amost 180 degrees West (and East). Very exciting. If
I keep it cool till we get there then we will be half way round the world.
Completely under our own steam. We are both completely convinced that we have
made the right choice by retaining our complete freedom and independence and not
joining a rally. Though half way round the world we are already far past
the halfway, I think, in terms of the miles to be sailed. We have now
covered about 16,500 miles ( I think there is about 12,000 left to get back
to Gibraltar) and two of the three oceans we plan to sail, and while it is
true we have had many breaks it is also true that occasionally I need to apply
some other brakes.......
Anyway I need to go now, I'm off to put some more
sail up! Yeeha!