Day 144 – Line Squall and Lazy J acks

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 6 May 2022 09:33
Noon Position: 03 42.6 N 081 11.3 E
Course: ESE Speed: 7 knots
Wind: SW F4 Sea: slight
Swell: SW 2m
Weather: overcast, hot, humid
Day’s Run: 155 nm

At 1600 yesterday, a large dark cloud approached from the NW and soon dominated the sky. As it came over the wind swung through 180 degrees, switching from SW to NE, which required us to gybe from a starboard to a port beam reach, at which time I also put in a reef in the main and rolled up some of the jib. With such a dramatic wind shift the seas became confused and chaotic causing Sylph to roll and pitch in a similarly chaotic manner. Then, an hour later, heavy rain began to fall and the wind picked up to a solid force seven. I bore away to reduce the apparent wind and load on the sails, then lashed the helm to compensate for the weather helm so that the wind vane could cope and hold a steady course, then dropped the mainsail altogether (unfortunately breaking the starboard lazy jacks in the process). Sylph happily careened off to the ENE at seven odd knots throwing showers of spray over her decks. (Oops! Forgot to dog down the forehatch. Soon fixed with only a little bit of spray made its way into the forepeak.)
An hour later everything had pretty much settled down again, the wind returning to the SW and easing to the more customary force three. I reset the main and unrolled the jib bringing Sylph back onto a starboard beam reach at a somewhat more sedate four knots. Once Sylph was happy I made a temporary repair to the lazy jacks using the trysail halyard to tide us over until I could climb aloft and repair them properly.
The line squall seems to have presaged a change in conditions for by 1900 the wind had freshened again to force four and by 2100 was up to a steady force five. By then I had put two reefs in the main and reduced the headsail to 70%, under which we continued to make good a comfortable seven knots.
We remained under this sail configuration overnight continuing to average a bit over seven knots. This forenoon the wind had veered into the west and eased to force four so we now have the headsail poled out to starboard and I have shaken a reef out of the main. The lazy jacks have been properly repaired (another climb aloft but thankfully only to the spreaders this time) and the trysail halyard has been returned to its cleat. I have contemplated shaking out the remaining reef in the main but Sylph is well balance running wing-on-wing with the full jib poled opposite the single reefed main, and we continue to make good an easy seven knots (I reckon we have a knot or so of current in our favour) so will leave things be for now.
All is well.