Day 35 - Too Far North
Mon 17 Jan 2022 23:17
Course: E Speed: 6 knots
Wind: SSE, F4 Sea: slight
Swell: SW, 3 meters
Weather: sunny, mild
Day's Run: 119nm (100 miles of easting)
At 2000 yesterday evening I wrote in Sylph's log - "Recovered drogue. Set jib." Those few words summed up about two hours work getting the drogue back in.
My method for recovering it without damaging the fabric cones was to run a line through a block secured to the berthing cleat on the port bow, secure one end to the drogue line with a rolling hitch, take the other end to the port sheet winch and crank as much in as the recovery line would allow, about five meters. Then I would place a stopper on the drogue line using the aft berthing cleat, release the recovery line, bring the end back aft and resecure it to the drogue line and thus repeat the process until the end of the drogue was in sight. Then I would bring the last several meters in by hand, including the chain weighting the end of the line.
Seeing as we had about eighty meters of drogue out the evolution required about fourteen iterations. By day's end I was pretty exhausted, not to mention a little damp. While streaming the drogue earlier in the afternoon when the seas were large, steep and breaking, one sea decided to break right over me while my head was down securing the stopper on the drogue line. (I heard it coming but have found generally it is safest just to hang on and not to try and dodge them.) It managed to find its way down the back of my foul weather jacket, down through my foul weather trousers and salopettes and into my boots. Bother!
From the above you can deduce that conditions in fact moderated as the daywore on. I contemplated leaving the drogue out overnight but thought by morning we would be wallowing and going nowhere. So, after deploying it I had a rest for a couple of hours then at 1800 started bringing it back in with the view to having it all inboard and secured before sunset, which we pretty much achieved. However, by the time I had sails sorted and everything looking reasonably shipshape again it was dark and late. I settled for a can of baked beans for dinner - my first for the voyage, but no doubt not my last.
We were making good about six knots with just the jib out by the time I had Sylph secured for the night so I decided to leave the mainsail until morning. I got some sleep then got up at 0100 local time for the radio sked which, as we get further east, is obviously later in the day for Mark and I (though Mark is still keeping Adelaide time as his ships' time because he does not want to disturb his antique wind-up deck watch).
I enjoy our nightly chats. Wayne's weather reports are invaluable, and sharing stories with both Wayne and Mark and comparing daily activities with Mark is both informative and entertaining. For instance, while Coconut is still some eighty miles to the east of Sylph, she experienced similar conditions. Mark also chose to run before the worst of the near gale and contemplated streaming his tyre drogue but decided against it, as would have I if I had not felt the need to gain some current experience with the process (and I am very glad that I did). However, while we followed similar strategies for coping with the weather, it would seem I have now ended up a lot further north than Mark, some fifty miles, which I would put down to my running off under main and poled out jib overnight before deciding to slow down and stream the drogue.
After the radio sked I returned to my bunk but found myself wide awake listening to and feeling Sylph's movement. She was not happy. She wanted her mainsail. The moon was shining and the seas were smoothing out. I knew I would sleep better if I took care of Sylph first. So I donned sea boots, went on deck and hoisted the main to two reefs, then returned to my bunk and slept until 1100. Unfortunately, it would seem that while I slept the wind has backed into the SSE so we have lost even more ground to the north. We now have full sail back up and are close to the wind on the starboard tack.
I am a little worried that perhaps we are getting ourselves onto the wrong side of a high pressure system while that rascally Coconut slips away to the south east of us. Certainly she is proving a little more difficult to catch up with than I had anticipated a few days ago. Not to worry. There is still over 2500 miles until Cape Horn.
The sun is shining, the bilges are dry, and life is good.
All is well.