Hard weather tactics 27:25S 163:42.5E

Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Sun 7 Jun 2015 11:04
The tough weather continues and will till tomorrow morning. The worse part is the change in the wind, going between 14 to 35 knots makes you crazy. We have to be on top of it, if we leave small sails out when the wind drops the steep waves become a terror.
On top of everything Ellinor woke me up soon after I finally could go back to sleep after all mornings adventure. Next challenge, our mainsail had a tear that could evolve to breaking the whole sail.
Again, going downwind, and first Ellinor tried to clean the sail from salt water, working on it still in place. After that more cleaning and sure enough it started to rain before we had a chance to apply a special cloth that you tape over the "wound".
We waited til the rain passed, tried to dry as much as possible and then comes the fun, trying to put addesive cloth that is half a meter long on a sail with winds around 30 knots. At the same time you have to hold on, because the rolling gets even worse when you have less sails.
So we stood there, each holding on with one hand and using the other hand to work in tandem.
It worked and so far the sail is still fine! After 12 hours sailing in winds up to 38 knots!
Yes it is tiring to sail in a weather that changews all the time, we are just two adults on board and as soon as sleep becomes rare it all begins to be more than hard.
Maybe some readers wonder how you deal with hard weather at sea, when  there is no protection at all.
Im no expert but one advice that has worked for us is that you should never settle as long as things are not right.
It is very hard to say; do this and do that when this and that occurs, well the problem is that there are infinite numbers of wavetrains in combination with different winds and on top of that all boats behave differently in different conditions.
So the rule about not settle means for instance, that if you sail flogs on the down hill side of the waves, you can either sit and wonder how to take care of it and then do it or do nothing, just sitting still and watch the mess unfold.
I have a metafor that works for me, that like a boxer or a tennis player you should alway have your feet moving, that makes you faster and less heavy in action. No I do not step around in the cockpit, but mentally I try to keep working on fixing things till there is no chafe, no movements.
In 40 knots all lines are tense like iron, all sheets are working at heavy load, if there is a vibration in the rig or in the sails a chafe is like a chain saw, it rubbs quickly off all material.
Even our tomatoes have peeled themselfe being in a net that flexes with the waves!
a flyfish came bouncing on the cockpit window ! Now it is trying to get back in the water....
It is pitch dark outside, only the stars, the moon has not come up yet.
Back to the "moving feet", it is very easy to just sit and become paralized by the grandness of weather power- 40 knots is a LOT of power!
The movement in the boat makes everything a big effort, just to get yourselfe to the mast is a big job. With a winch handle and some ropes, that is suddenly almost too much! It is also called Emotional Inertia - when  you think that it will most probably work out well anyway...
But if I do not do anything I feel more miserable and fear can start creeping upon me, so by keeping busy, you create a feeling of being in control.
When you are back in the cockpit and everything is quite, no flopping, no vibrations, it suddenlyt feel like 20 knots instead.
When things are stressed we get stressed as well. At sea the timeframe is so loooong! In a car you have seconds to react and change the future, in a boat you have hours, maybe minutes....
Comfort, as we are on the boat for more than a week without being able to step off or call the day we look at how we can make the journey comfortable. If we were a crew of 4 people we could make a run and crash into waves etc, knowing we have manpower to take the watches. But when we are only two it is more important to trim the boat so she does so much work as possible on her own, and still goes fast.
BUT you can also make a huge difference in trimming the speed with the waves, the less interference the better. Then everybody sleeps better, it is easier to cook etc. But even with the best intentions life on board is harsh under heavy weather, your body get tired from compensating the movements, you always have to hold on, make sure you have support for the body. While Im writing this my right foot is pushing against a bench so I can stay in place without falling over with the computer. Even going to the toilet is an advenure... and harsh.
Most people think of the wind as being the bad part but wind is actually no problem, in itself, you could always reef down to the poles, well then just ride along. What the wind does with the water is the challenge as soon as you are on the ocean. Fetch is a term that means how long stretch the wind has to affect the water. A small pool of water, short fetch, small waves... An ocean- lonf fetch and not only that, currents, tides etc.
By the way, did you know that an ocean has currents, a sea has none?
Well now the genua is flopping there in the dark....