The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Mon 14 Aug 2017 05:40



19:30S  053:23E


So far we've done 140 miles with 260 miles to go. We did 140 miles in the last 23 hours.  We have 70% cloud cover and 15-25 knot SSE winds.  We’re sailing along on a broad reach at 4-6 knots with 3 metre seas.   Here's what we did yesterday and overnight


13 August 2017   Reunion to Ile St Marie (Day 1)

The alarm went off at 07:00. Glenys was still feeling a little ill, but better than yesterday, so she wanted to leave.  Expecting big waves outside the port, we drifted in the outer basin while we put the ropes and fenders away.  I also rigged up our spinnaker pole to starboard, so it was 08:20 before we cleared the port – “Jackster” and “Red Herring” were at least an hour ahead of us.


The wind shadow of Reunion stretches dozens of miles to the west of the mountainous island, so we motored north-north-west for an hour until we were able to sail. The 3 metre swell built up faster than the wind and the waves were confused, throwing us about, making life very unpleasant. 


After three hours, the wind had built to SE 20-30 knots and we were able to steer our required course of 305°T - the wind was on our starboard quarter.  The large, confused seas were slewing us about, so I rolled away the main and set up the genoa poled out to starboard with the staysail out to port.  It was better, but the motion was making us both queasy - Glenys because she was still fluey and me because I’ve not been at sea for 7 weeks.


The day wore on remourcesly.  Continuing to feel a bit dodgy, we were unable to read for any length of time and just staring at the horizon makes the minutes pass very slowly.  Glenys retired to bed in the morning and I had a couple of hours‘ kip in the afternoon – being asleep helps the queasiness and certainly helps time pass quicker.


We had dinner at 18:00 before the sun went down.  Fortunately, Glenys had made a lamb stew yesterday, so her time down below was restricted to a few minutes heating the food and ladling it into bowls. Neither of us were up to eating much and Glenys soon went off to bed.


As night fell, I spotted a long line of clouds to the south of us, so I switched on the radar and could see a line of rain about five miles away, running parallel to our course  - it looked like the clouds were streaming downwind from Reunion. I altered course ten degrees to the north hoping to get away, but the cloud system caught us at 20:00.


We didn’t have any rain or really strong wind, but the wind veered by 90 degrees, moving from our starboard quarter to our port quarter and then swinging back, varying in strength between 10 & 25 knots.  It would have been very frustrating with the main sail up because we would have had to keep gybing, but with the poled-out genoa and staysail, we can easily handle a much wider range of wind direction.  I just rolled the staysail away when the wind was on the port quarter, which slowed us down a little, but I could leave the genoa alone because being poled out, it works with the wind from either quarter.


Glenys’s 10-1 watch was just more of the same with the wind strangely staying at SSW for long periods – the forecast was for SE20-25.  Glenys was looking decidedly tired and queasy at our one o’clock watch change, so I did a long watch until dawn, so that she could get six hours solid sleep.

From 4 to 7, there were long periods of heavy rain, which was blowing under our bimini rain panels, so I escaped the wet cockpit and went down below. By this time, I was feeling very tired, so I  dumped some cockpit cushions on the saloon floor and slept on them.  In order to keep a proper watch, I set a timer to wake me up every 15 minutes, so that I could pop my head up and check the sails and AIS.  Doing 15 minute naps worked okay, but I wouldn’t like to do for days and days like the single handed sailors do.