Day 128 – Rain Shower

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 20 Apr 2022 08:42
Noon Position: 06 45.3 S 067 13.2 E
Course: NNW Speed: 3.5 knots
Wind: NE F3 Sea: slight
Swell: SE 1.5m
Weather: sunny, hot, humid
Day’s Run: 71nm sailed, 63nm made good

Thus far we continue to make very satisfactory progress in the light winds.
The highlight of the past 24 hours occurred at 1530 yesterday, when a large towering cumulus cloud, complete with some serious rain pouring forth from its base, passed over us. We were running wing-on-wing with the wind on our port quarter. As the cloud approached the wind increased to force four and Sylph picked up speed to six knots. It wasn’t a squally rain cloud and we did not need to consider a reef, but then the rain started to fall, initially a drizzle, then a light shower and then a steady heavy rain. I stripped off and stood out in the shower of fresh water. Initially it felt a bit chilly but once my skin had cooled it felt deliciously refreshing. I then set about collecting the rain that was coming off the mainsail in bucket fulls.
In a post several days ago, I made the comment that I thought the boom bag was not worth the trouble. Well, yesterday afternoon it earned its place on board. I was not able to keep up with the amount of water it was collecting. I have described my rain catching system previously so won’t repeat myself here, suffice to say that yesterday it worked perfectly. I reckon within the space of ten minutes or so I had collected some fifty litres of pristine clean fresh water. At the same time I had enjoyed a thorough fresh water wash, which I have not had since commencing the voyage almost four months ago.
As is invariably the case when a rain cloud passes over, while the wind freshens as it approaches, it leaves quite a large patch of calm in its wake before the gradient wind reasserts itself. As the rain stopped and the sun returned, we were left rolling gently to the swell, drifting, sails flapping idly from side to side. This calm lasted longer than usual and had me wondering whether the thunderhead might have presaged a change in weather regimes. However, expecting the wind to likely fill back in at any time, I didn’t think it wise to go for a swim to clean off more barnacles, besides which I was salt free and didn’t want to go getting salty again quite so soon.
With maybe a good month or more of light and variable winds ahead of us, and looking at the sails flapping and chafing against the rigging, I thought it was a good time to change over the headsail, from the relatively new number two general purpose jib, to the old number one light weight genoa. I dropped the main and lowered the jib (instead of rolling it up). I then dragged the old genoa out from under the cockpit and hoisted it up the forestay foil. I have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for this old sail (along with the drifter). It must be forty years old. It is mitre cut, covered in rust stains, but surprisingly has only a few small patches, and smells of lanolin. I think at one time the sail must have been coated with the stuff because it has a waxy, oily feel to it. At 1725 a usable breeze had sprung up and we soon had the mainsail and the old genoa drawing us along at a gentle three knots. It is nice to have the old sail out and working for a while.
And I think it has proven a good call. Overnight we have had mostly light headwinds, from NNW to ENE, and the sail combination has kept us moving, not always in the preferred direction but always at a comfortable three to four knots allowing for a peaceful night, and, after the rain, a little cooler.
This forenoon I put a third coat of primer on the ex-rust patches and transferred thirty litres of water from the cockpit containers to the port water tank. I am pleased to say that the port water tank is almost full again. I am hoping that the addition of the fresh clean rain water will help remove the still lingering taste of Adelaide tap water.
All is well.