Day 34 - More Wind

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 16 Jan 2022 22:17
Noon Position: 45 39.8 S 137 53.1 W
Course: NE Speed: 6 knots
Wind: SW, F8 Sea: rough
Swell: SW, 4 meters
Weather: overcast, cool
Day's Run: 142nm (23 hours)

Wayne's forecast was right and we have indeed had more wind. As evening wore on I gradually reduced sail so that by 2340 we were down to three reefs in the main and 30% jib on the pole to port. With the radio working again (and I am relieved to say that Coconut came up as well), we were able to receive Wayne's updated forecast which confirmed more strong winds for the night and all of today. I contemplated reducing sail further but Sylph was sailing well with the triple reefed main and the jib poled out to port, stable and fast, so I decided to leave things be for the night until conditions dictated that I should do something different.
And I am glad to say we got through the night without having to touch anything. Of course I got up out of my bunk on a regular basis to have a look around to make sure everything was in order, otherwise I slept or lay in my bunk listening to the sound of the ocean rushing past as Sylph pushed into the night (and the sound of the water in the tank beneath the bunk gurgling through its baffles).
This forenoon I stood in the cockpit surveying the scene. The wind appeared to be increasing marginally, there were clouds astern indicating perhaps worse weather, and the waves had increased in size and steepness. I asked myself do I leave things be or reduce sail. Sylph seemed to be enjoying herself, on the other hand I was concerned that a larger than average wave might cause her to surf and possibly broach. I decided to err on the side of caution. I set the staysail and dropped the main. The combination of the partial jib poled to port and the staysail seemed a good for keeping Sylph moving but more under control and reasonably stable.
Something I had been meaning to do for some time during this voyage was to try out the series drogue before it is needed in earnest. I have had the drogue for over twenty years now but have only used it twice, the last time several years ago so thought while current conditions did not necessitate its deployment, it seemed a good opportunity to practice, particularly during daylight hours, rather than when conditions are more serious and just as likely to be in the middle of the night. I am glad I did so because I have a couple of problems to solve. Previously I have deployed the drogue by surging it off a sheet winch but I would rather find a different technique so as to keep the winches free for the headsail. So I tried surging the drogue off the large aft mooring cleat but this proved unsatisfactory. The turns were too tight and I could hear the fabric in the cones tearing as they passed over the cleat. I now have about a third of the drogue streamed over the stern and it is helping to stabilise Sylph's course but I don't want to deploy any more of it until I have thought of a better way of streaming and recovery. I have some ideas which I will try out this afternoon.
Navigation wise, we have ended up quite a way north as we have run off before the strong winds. This is okay because Mark reported Coconut's position as some forty miles to the north of Sylph last night. Also, I am hoping that the winds might ease a little bit sooner to the north as we work our way clear of the low pressure system that has developed just south of us. When the winds ease, which they are expected to do tonight, the plan will be to gybe and get Sylph back on a more easterly heading.
We have moved into the next time zone (+9), so last night ship's clocks were set back an hour, hence our day's run was for 23 hours rather than the usual 24.

All is well.