A Gale

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 8 Mar 2021 03:23
Position: At anchor Port Hutt, Chatham Island
Wind: W, F7 Sea: slight Swell: nil
Weather: cloudy, cool

As forecast, the westerly gale arrived around 1000 this morning and it has been blowing pretty fresh since then. I was glad to be in the shelter of Port Hutt. Despite the fresh winds and occasional rain squalls, I have made good use of the day.

I have been wanting to install some hardware on the boom for the third reef point for some time now (years actually). Previously, when I have needed to put a third reef in the mainsail, I have transferred the first reef line into the third reef point. I have only very rarely needed to use the third reef as generally when it is that windy I use the trysail. However, while the trysail is satisfactory for heaving to, due to its small size and fullish cut, it will not drive Sylph to windward in a gale, whereas the mainsail with a third reef and staysail will. On the few occasions* where I have had to use the third reef, the previous setup has struck me as entirely unsatisfactory as it required one to do some rather agile gymnastics on the end of the boom in weather when such activities are not a little conducive to going overboard. I had purchased the cheek block while in Waikawa in Queen Charlotte Sound but had not yet fitted it to the boom. The gale force winds of today and the possibility that we will encounter such winds on our return to New Zealand has motivated me to complete this long overdue task, though I am hoping I will not need to try it out in earnest, ever!

That job done, another issue that required my attention is air in the engine fuel line. I had solved this problem previously, but it would seem that on the passage to Chatham Island the problem has returned. I think I have located the air leak in the overflow line and hopefully have resolved it with the simple application of a hose clamp.

So far we have been at anchor in Port Hutt for four days and have managed to get ashore once. The wind is forecast to ease tomorrow to 15 knots from the west, so I may be able to get to Waitangi tomorrow afternoon. But the wind is then predicted to go back into the north early Wednesday, so I probably won’t be able to stay there overnight.

The weather fax for the 72 hour prognosis has just come in and supports the forecast of SE’ly winds on Thursday with a ridge extending east of the South Island. Maybe it will bring a day or two of relatively settled weather. If so, it might be another potential opportunity to get to Waitangi but it also could be a good opportunity for returning to the North Island.

We will see what the morrow brings.

All is well.

* The last time I have used the third reef in earnest was when I needed it to get out of Golfo de Penas on 5 June 2010. I just looked it up in my journal. Makes for some interesting reading (see blog entries for 5-7 June 2020). I think I can say with some confidence that Sylph is in better shape now than she was then, especially the engine.