Mon 8 Jun 2009 16:56
Course: North by East Speed 5 knots
Wind: East, moderate to fresh
Weather: Sunny, some cloud, mild. Sea: moderate
Day's Run: 126 miles
My life at the moment is being dominated by a series of low pressure systems
passing to the south of us. Yesterday the barometer fell steadily, at dusk
yesterday it was down to 1009 hPa from 1020 hPa 24 hours previous, the
passing low was at 997 hPa. We were still sailing quite comfortably under
full sail at that stage but the cloud was building up and I was concerned
things were very likely to deteriorate during the night, so decided to don
foul weather gear and reduce sail before it got too much darker. I was well
pleased with myself only an hour and a half later as we started heeling
consistently to the increasing wind and I could roll over in my nice warm
bunk, rather than drag myself out of it and climb into clammy foul weather
gear. Even so at 1.30 this morning I still had to go out on deck to reduce
sail further as Sylph was labouring a little with an even greater wind
strength and roughening seas, a slight reduction in the headsail sufficed
and by dawn it seems the worst has passed. Now we are jogging along at about
five knots, still under reduced canvas, bucking into a headwind and sea. The
wind has settled into a steady fresh breeze from the east, definitely not
the fair wind and following seas we were hoping for. Looking at the forecast
I expect that we will have to endure this easterly for another 24 hours and
then it will probably go light and variable before another low pressure
system starts tracking through and repeating the cycle. And to think my
passage planning software said the percentage of headwinds was going to be
zero for this crossing. And Jimmy Cornell's book "World Sailing Routes"
reckoned that once clear of ice and fog that the great circle route was the
way to go with westerlies being the prevailing winds. Oh well, as that great
Scottish poet said, "The best laid plans of mice and men gang go agley". The
strategy for now is to continue close hauled on the starboard tack heading
north until the wind either backs a bit further or drops in strength or
both, then we will tack and see what course we can make for Ireland. It
looks to me that the further we head north then the more likely it will be
that we will get headwinds but they should be lighter and with luck it
should be sunnier, so that at least the conditions we will have to endure as
we beat to windward will be much more pleasant. It will be interesting to
see how it all unfolds. It might actually be easier to go to Iceland at
I picked up a bit of Radio Australia this morning, how nice to hear some
Aussie accents crackling over the static. It was hard to understand, sounds
like a bit of a political melt down going on somewhere, New South Wales I
think. Does this mean the Australian dollar is going to fall again? Might
have to be rationing the intake of Guinness when we get to Ireland. Damn!.
The sun is shining again, hooray!
All is well.
PS. We passed the half way mark between Halifax and Ireland yesterday, I
might go and have a cup of coffee and a couple of biscuits to celebrate.
Halfway to where? Does this have any impact on my life? Well I got some
gruel yesterday instead of hardtack, it's a change I suppose, hardly cause
for celebration though. And the sea has been too lumpy to stroll the
promenade deck. What a waste of sunshine.
We shall just have to make the most of things down below.