Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 20 Dec 2009 15:00

Noon Position: 37 43.2 S 057 03.6 W

Course: West Speed: 3.5
Wind: Northeast F4 - moderate breeze
Weather: Overcast, cool

Day’s run: 105 miles

The headwinds arrived after quite a bit of fussing around. Late in the afternoon we experienced a thunderstorm as a trough went through which had us reefed down just in case there was any wind in it, there wasn’t so an hour later we were running wing on wing again. Then we had the wind shift and freshen into the west around midnight as a the vestiges of a frontal system passed through, bringing with it cold air and fog. Again I put in a precautionary reef but again there was nothing behind it, and in fact an hour later the fog cleared (thank goodness), the wind eased and we once more put on all sail. With the light air I had to lash the wheel to windward to keep the bow up and the boat moving. I knew when the wind did freshen the boat would probably round up into the wind and o aback but for now at least we were moving and heading in the right direction.

Sure enough at two in the morning as I was resting below I felt the boat straighten up as the wind came out of her sail and her heel over onto the other tack. I promptly donned foul weather gear and went on deck to allow the headsail to draw across, as I did so the wind was rapidly freshening and within a few minutes I was struggling to get two reefs into the mainsail and the jib furled. We were soon snugged down, the headwind had arrived in earnest. I settled the boat as close to the wind as I could with the reduced sail and strong wind, we were no longer heading for Mar del Plata but were heading straight for the beach about 15 miles away. This was OK I thought as the breeze was slightly offshore and I thought we would find kinder seas closer in.

One small casualty of the sudden wind increase was the port lazy jacks, these are relatively light lines that keep the bunt of the mainsail neatly bundled on the boom when it is lowered or when a reef is put in. Come sunrise we were about four miles off the beach with land plainly in view. I tacked and headed offshore again, made a temporary repair to the lazy jacks, and went below for breakfast. I was disappointed to note that with the reduced sail area and still relatively strong wind that we were not making any ground at all in the desired direction but in fact were going backwards, so since 2 a.m. we have travelled about 33 miles tacking back and forth over the same territory. I suspect we have a bit of current against us.

The wind has eased quite a bit now, I have shaken a reef out of the mainsail and given Sylph a bit more headsail, so we are making slightly better speed and pointing a little higher, at least we are now making some ground to windward. ETA Mar del Plata? My best guess is early tomorrow.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

The last two days really have been most unsatisfactory. First some sea water threatened to engulf me now it has gotten rather cold and windy, with my abode bouncing and leaning this way and that, the skipper up and down all the time, going on deck in that yellow play suit of his and often returning dripping water everywhere - whatever gives him a thrill I guess. Getting a good night’s sleep to allow one to tackle a full and productive day’s work is decidedly difficult. But I am a professional, back to it . . . Zzzzzzz.