The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Wed 24 May 2017 02:58



09:35S  070:42E


So far we've done 290 miles with 825 miles to go. We did 140 miles in the last 24 hours.  We have 100% cloud cover and 20-25 knot SE winds.  We’re beating upwind into 2½ metre seas.   Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


23 May 2017   Chagos to Rodrigues (Day 2)

Just after dawn, the wind picked up to above 20 knots, so we rolled away the genoa again and pulled out the staysail.  By 10:00, we’d cleared the south-west corner of the Great Chagos Bank and were able to try to steer south.


The general trend in the weather for this passage is for the winds to increase by 10-15 knots as we head south – by the time that we are approaching Rodrigues, we are expecting the wind to be SSE at 25-30 knots.  Our strategy is to make sure that we have a downwind approach to our destination by aiming for a waypoint 150 miles east of Rodrigues (19°S 66°E).


Rather than heading along the rhumb line to this waypoint, we want to hedge our bets and keep well east.  We‘re planning to sail directly south for a couple of days (to 12°S 70°40E) and then, as the wind and waves increase, we’ll bear away 10 degrees for another two days (to 17°S 60°E).  That route should put us in a good position for a downwind run to Rodrigues.


In the morning, we struggled to head south, only managing a course of 190°, but the wind backed a little in the afternoon and we were just able to sail a course of 180° with the wind at 45° apparent.  Now that we’ve become used to living at a 20 degree angle, it was quite pleasant beating into the 15-20 knot winds with lovely blue skies. We occasionally had a big wave slap into the bow, sending a wall of water along the decks, but we were able maintain 6 knots during the day.


We encountered our first squall just before sunset.  The wind picked up to 25 knots, so we reefed the genoa, but it was very short-lived, nothing like the huge squalls we encountered in the ITCZ.  In fact,  the last two days has been the best sailing weather that we’ve had for months.  The wind had been so consistent that we didn’t bother to put in our usual extra reefs as night fell.


However, during the night, we passed through a number of squalls, which gave us variable winds from 12 to 28 knots and some rain patches. On her 10-1 watch, Glenys rolled away the genoa and pulled out the staysail, which together with a reef in the main, gave us a good sail plan to weather the lulls and the stronger wind patches. As the night drew on, the wind slowly backed, so that we were able to lay a course of 180° with the wind at 70° apparent.


By the end of my 1-4 watch, the wind was consistently 20-23 knots, so I put a second reef in the main and we still screamed along at 7 knots with the wind at 70° apparent.  Glenys had 28 knot winds on her 4-7 watch, so she had to reef the staysail a couple of times. It’s getting tougher.