Day 8 - Bermuda to Guernsey

Stravaig'n the Blue
Wed 1 Jun 2022 21:26
Position: 38:16.8 N 047:01.1 W
Position timestamp: Wednesday 1 June 2022 14:00 (UTC-2)
Distance travelled in last 24 hours: 160 NM (average speed 6.7 knots)
Reduction in distance to destination: 115 NM
Shortest distance to destination: 2005 NM (great circle)

Well, that was a wild night!

At 6pm we changed course from north-east (towards Guernsey) to north. There was no way to avoid the strong winds that would kick in overnight but, by heading north, we would be in them for the shortest time. We set the staysail and with one reef in the mainsail we were making six to seven knots in the fresh 17-22 knot south-westerly breeze.

My 8pm-11pm watch was uneventful but on Linda’s 11pm-2am watch there was a nasty squall with 30 knot winds and a lot of rain. At the 2am watch handover, we discussed putting another reef in the mainsail but decided against it for a number of reasons. The boat was coping well with the conditions and the autopilot drive was not being stressed, needing only to tweak the rudders a few degrees either way to keep the boat going straight despite the building seas. The average wind speed over the last hour had been 24 knots and was not forecast to go much higher. Apart from the one squall, the wind was not gusty and we could see no other squalls on the radar. And it was dark. We’ve reefed down in the dark many times before but it is much easier to do in daylight.

My 2am-5am watch was also uneventful and again we only discussed reefing at the end of that watch. And then the inevitable. At 6:20 Linda woke me to tell me the wind was now averaging 32 knots and another reef was essential - but at least it was now light. So we rounded the boat into wind to ease the pressure on the mainsail, put two reefs in for good measure, bore away and set off again across the waves at eight to nine knots.

Shortly after reefing, Linda logged a wind reading of 39.6 knots; gale force is 34 to 40 knots.

I had expected a few hours of very heavy rain and big gusty squalls as the low pressure system’s cold front overtook us later. From the latest forecast I knew this was likely to be before noon. So when heavy rain set in just before 10:00 I knew what to expect. But it didn’t happen that way. Within half an hour, the rain had stopped, there had been no squalls, the wind had dropped to below 20 knots and had gone clockwise (as expected) from south-west to almost north-west, and the barometer had started rising. Peace at last (relatively speaking) and hopefully tonight we will both get a bit more sleep.

There were (and still are) big seas. Forecasters would described them as two to three meters but that means the occasional wave which is over four meters peak to trough. The Great Shearwaters are having a fantastic time skimming over the these huge waves before soaring up and round, to do it all again.

Do you remember Nereid, the 28ft Pearson Triton, from the Day 4 post, 672 miles ago? Well we crossed wakes again! Nereid was 15 miles north of us just after the front passed. This afternoon, as our paths converged, we called Bill and agreed to pass as close together as was safe in the conditions so that we could all take a few photos and videos. Getting action photos of your own boat is always difficult so this was an opportunity not to be missed. We will send him the photos we took when we reach Guernsey.

All is well.