Day 60 – Approaching Falkland Is lands

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 11 Feb 2022 17:42
Noon Position: 52 52.6 S 061 14.5 W
Course: ENE Speed: 6 knots
Wind: WSW, F4 Sea: slight
Swell: SW 2 meters
Weather: sunny, cool
Day’s Run: 127 nm

The wind eased and backed into the SW during the late evening and we were able to transition from the midday heavy weather reaching sail plan to a midnight fair weather running rig, with full jib poled to port and full mainsail to starboard. However by 0300 the wind had freshened once again and veered further into the SSW which required heavy weather running gear, namely triple reefed main and 30% jib poled opposite. The wind shift had us making good a course of north, well left of our desired heading of 055°T, but Wayne’s forecast had the wind veering during the morning and forenoon watches into the west, so I figured the navigation should self-correct if I left things alone. Which has indeed proven to be the case and we currently continue to run wing-on-wing heading WSW. I haven’t touched the wind vane but have let out two reefs in the main and unrolled the jib.
The sun is shining.
And I have had a good night’s sleep (compared to normal at sea single-handed routine).
The plan is to pass to the east of the Falkland Islands, where we should be protected from some upcoming strong W’ly winds, then continue NE until we get to 50S, which marks Sylph’s rounding of Cape Horn, when we will alter course to the east and head towards Cape of Good Hope.
I have yet to make up my mind, but I am considering a change of plan from my original route. I had intended to continue up the Atlantic and round St Paul’s Rocks, then changed that to the Cape Verde Islands so as to cover the required distance of 21600 miles for a circumnavigation. But, since then, and in discussion with Mark and Wayne, it occurs to me that this route will have Sylph rounding Cape of Good Hope mid-winter which to me seems an unseamanlike thing to do in a small boat if it can be avoided. So my alternative is to head straight for Cape of Good Hope from here to round it late March/early April then determine some further rounding points in the Indian Ocean that would satisfy the non-stop circumnavigation requirements. This alternative route appeals to me on a number of levels. First, as mentioned, it avoids Cape of Good Hope in mid-winter; second, I have only crossed the Indian Ocean once so much of this would be new seas to experience and explore, whereas I have already crossed the Atlantic Ocean, North and South, a couple of times in my first circumnavigation. Finally, in the Indian Ocean I will be that much closer to home if something goes wrong. I have not made up my mind yet yet, but will do so by the time Sylph crosses 50S.
Meanwhile (cue to Coconut), Mark’s trial by tempest is about to be joined. His plan remains unchanged and Coconut is making good speed at 5.5 knots. With a little luck she will beat the 50 knot winds to the Horn. Then, as mentioned yesterday, he will turn left and shelter behind the Wollaston Group until conditions abate. Of course, Mark also has the additional challenge of only being able to use a sextant for navigation so his positional accuracy will very likely be less than precise, especially during a period of heavy weather; so making landfall on Cape Horn’s rock-bound coast is going to provide for some anxious moments. Once again, I emphasise for anyone following Mark’s adventures that Coconut is a well-found and well prepared little ship, and that Mark is an experienced and competent sailor and navigator. I have spoken to Mark this morning and will again hopefully this afternoon, though things are likely to be rather hectic for him by then. However, by tomorrow forenoon when our next sched is due, I am confident that he will be talking to us from relative shelter behind the Wollaston Islands with Cape Horn behind him.
All is well.