Day 54 – Sunshine and Mast Climb ing

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 5 Feb 2022 18:42
Noon Position: 53 58.2 S 079 22.2 W
Course: E Speed: 6 knots
Wind: WNW, F4 Sea: slight
Swell: NW 2 meters
Weather: sunny, cool
Day’s Run: 152 nm

The wind continued to increase overnight and with it the seas picked up. By midnight we were down to three reefs in the main, 30% jib, and staysail, and the ride was a lot bouncier. However, come dawn the wind has dropped and backed into the WNW and the sun is shining. So we are now back to Sylph’s favourite sail plan, running wing-on-wing under full main and poled out jib. And a bit of sunshine will be very handy for getting some charge into the batteries without having run the genset.
Unfortunately we are now too far away from Australia to receive weather reports from Wayne via HF radio so have resorted to emails via satellite phone, which reports I then relay to Coconut in our morning radio sched. This morning’s forecast is not looking so good especially for Coconut. Sylph can expect 40 knot winds from the NNW for most of Sunday night, but winds ease considerable by Monday when, with luck, we will be rounding the infamous Cape. Coconut on the other hand who is now about a day and a half astern of Sylph will not be getting to the Horn until Thursday the 10th. And come Wednesday Wayne’s forecast has up to 50 knot winds in Coconut’s predicted position. Mark is considering his options and may decide to delay his approach to the Horn until the worst of this next weather system passes. We will be discussing the situation further during our radios conversations as the situation unfolds.
Meanwhile, back on board Sylph, we had what turned out to be a minor drama this forenoon. I was looking around on deck and noticed a line hanging slack from the mast on the starboard side. It turned out to be the boom topping lift which is used to control the boom when reefing or handing the mainsail. Further investigation revealed that the shackle securing the block to the masthead had come adrift and the only way I could fix the problem was to climb to the top of the mast and re-secure the block with a new shackle. I thought about what other options I might have for quite a while, being very reluctant to climb the mast at sea with Sylph rolling about 20 degrees or more. But, after much thought, I decided conditions were not going to get any better and trying to control the boom without the topping lift was likely to create worse problems down the track just when I didn’t need them.
I sighed, then took off my sea boots and foul weather gear, donned climbing shoes and climbing harness, gathered the necessary tools together and ascended the mast with the end of the topping lift secured to the belt of my climbing harness. Well, after much adrenaline and rapid breathing the job is done. The block has been re-secured to the masthead, the topping lift re-reeved through the block and its tail re-attached to the end of the boom. I have to say I am well pleased.
Distance to Cape Horn: 415 nm.
All is well.