Day 53 – Fresh Breeze Increasing

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 4 Feb 2022 18:52
Noon Position: 53 25.3 S 083 33.3 W
Course: ESE Speed: 7 knots
Wind: NW, F6. Sea: moderate
Swell: NW 2 meters
Weather: overcast, cool
Day’s Run: 159 nm

The race is on, trying to get around the Horn before the next deep low comes through, and indeed to hopefully stay ahead of the worst of the current low pressure system. To this end I have kept the canvas on without, I hope, over-stressing things. We have been beam reaching to a fresh NNW breeze for most of the last 24 hours. During daylight hours yesterday we kept all plain sail up including the staysail. At sunset, with the wind forecast to increase slightly, I put a single reef in the mainsail. Under this sail combination Sylph glided along at a consistent seven knots, as steady as a rock, to the point that it was almost disconcerting. At 0200, with the wind increasing further, I took in another reef in the mainsail and rolled up a bit of jib. We continued to surge forward at a solid seven knots, with the seas still relatively smooth. However, the barometer is starting to fall quite rapidly, 6Hpa in the last four hours, so, as per Wayne’s detailed forecast, we can expect the winds to increase further and the ride to get quite a bit bumpier.
To that end, I have made most of my heavy weather preparations. I set the new storm jib yesterday and that looked good. It is a tiny sail and hopefully conditions won’t get so bad that we will need it. The staysail is relatively small and to date I have found it quite adequate for heavy weather, but its good to have options. I also ran the engine for a short while. It still has an oil pressure problem but at least it is available if needed. I have a few more things to secure down below but that can be completed closer to when we expect the more serious stuff.
Meanwhile Coconut is somewhere astern of us. Mark and I communicate with each other via HF radio twice a day and compare notes. Clearly, being quite a bit smaller than Sylph, she is not going to be able to get ahead to the Horn as soon as Sylph and consequently maybe exposed to more severe weather for a bit longer, though what actually happens over the next few days remains to be seen. Coconut is a well found little ship with an experienced and competent skipper so I am confident she will manage whatever the Horn throws at her.
Distance to Cape Horn: 580 nm.
All is well.