Day 108 – Forties Farewell

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 31 Mar 2022 09:40
Noon Position: 39 27.9 S 072 48.2 E
Course: ENE Speed: 6.5 knots
Wind: WNW F4 Sea: moderate
Swell: SW 3m
Weather: overcast, some light drizzle, mild
Day’s Run: 142nm

The wind abated as forecast but it did not make for a restful night. Indeed, it was an atrocious night. As often happens when the winds dies down after a long strong blow, the sea and swell take quite some time to subside and once their driving force has been removed, ie the wind, initially they tend to slow down and topple over themselves, creating confused, steep and frequent breaking seas. Such was the case last night. Sylph rolled around with a sharp jerky motion as the short seas passed under her, sometimes breaking over her sides.
At midnight we left the roaring forties and in the way of a parting gesture a sea broke heavily against Sylph’s port quarter, pushing her off course and causing the mainsail to go aback again. The wind had eased down to force six at this point so with three reefs in the main there was not too much strain on the vang-preventer and I took the time to don basic foul weather gear before proceeding on deck to sort things out. I am glad I did for no sooner had I clambered out over the storm-boards then I was doused by yet another breaking sea. I gybed the main back and resumed our proper heading and then shook out a reef and unrolled a bit more jib. This helped steady Sylph a little but the motion was, quite frankly, abominable. I made myself a cup of tea and read for awhile before attempting to get a little more sleep.
At 0750 things had not improved, The wind had eased further but the seas were still confused and I counted three distinct swell trains, all about 30 degrees apart from one another. There was really no course I could pick that would not have at least one of them more or less on the beam. I set full sail in the hope of creating a bit more pressure in the rig to stabilise the motion but it did not help. At 0915 I tried gybing, altering course to the NE to see if I could get the major swell train more aft but that did not seem to help much either.
What did help was just a little bit of time and 1159 I awoke to an alarm which was a nice feeling because I realised that the seas had smoothed out significantly, Sylph’s motion was once more peaceful and soothing, and I had actually managed to get about an hour of quality sleep.
The forecast is for moderate to fresh breezes, as opposed to near gale force winds, for the next day or so. So maybe tonight, nay, maybe this afternoon, I will get to enjoy a few hours of some ‘sleep that knits up the ravel’d sleeve of care’.
235 miles to Amsterdam Island.
All is well.