Small Gale

Noon Position: 18 02.6 S 163 17.3 W
Course: Various Speed: 6 knots
Wind: South west, F5-6 fresh to strong breeze
Weather: Overcast, occasional rain squalls, warm, moderate seas
Day's run: 50 miles (86 sailed)

Things went pretty much according to plan last night as the weather forecast as predicted by the grib files was spot on. After sailing a little past Palmerston Atoll and speaking briefly with Palmerston Radio (Joseph Marsters) I reduced down to two reefs in the mainsail and furled the jib. We slowly jogged along to the north west in a moderate northerly breeze until 4.30 this morning when the wind started to pick up. By 6.20 it was blowing a near gale with the seas building up from the north west. Sylph continued quite comfortably now making ground to the west and despite the strong winds and large seas conditions on board were not too bad, certainly a lot more comfortable then they had been while rolling along to the short jerky swells of the last several days. And as for my description of being caught on a lee shore in yesterday's blog entry, even I thought I was laying it on a bit thick but this morning as I looked at the steep breaking seas I really am glad I was not hanging off one of the moorings. It would have been horrendous and I doubt whether we would have survived the night.

By 10 a.m. the wind had dropped off sufficiently for me to set a bit of jib and gybe round to reverse course and close Palmerston once again. Conditions are still far too rough to consider picking up a mooring but the forecast has conditions abating rapidly this afternoon and speaking with Joseph he reckons the seas drop off very quickly once the wind dies down. My intention for now is to loiter in the vicinity and see how things unfold. I do not really want to have to stand off again tonight but a rest would be nice and this morning I noticed the body of the wind vane self steering has twisted around about 15 degrees. I probably should have removed the vane earlier than I did. It is still working OK and won't be hard to fix – once we stop moving that is.

For now we wait and see.

All is well.