Safe but exhausted in St Helen’s, Tasmania, tonight… I motored in dead calm all day on Thursday. There was still a good 3 metre south-easterly swell with a long period – a bit like driving over long rolling hills – but basically it was pretty boring. My main concern was running out of diesel!
Then, half an hour before sunset, someone turned on 20 knots of nor-easter. Having been caught out with over-enthusiasm at sunset before, I decided to reef the main immediately – a decision I was very grateful for as the night wore on.
After a long night, with Sunny Spells constantly surfing in a big cross sea (1.5m sea kicked up by the breeze on top of a 2.5m south-easterly swell) dawn found me 30 miles east of Flinders Island. The pain was not over yet as the wind was shifting to the west and I had to gybe unless I wanted to go on to Antarctica…
The gybe was not too bad – the main had two tucks in and I just waited for a break in the breeze. The poled-out headsail was a pain, so I rolled it away first. Once the main was gybed and set out to starboard I first re-run the preventer to keep the boom in check and then re-set the pole to port. Then I had to re-run the headsail sheets as the working sheet had to be led through the lifelines to avoid chafe. Once the pole was set again, I rolled out about 75% of the headsail.
To the foredeck and back three times on a bucking, rolling boat while trying to not get the tether/jacklines tangled with the sheets, kicker, brace, preventer all snaking across the decks…
Through all of this I was kept company by hundreds of albatross, soaring and swooping over the churned-up sea.
The breeze soon died and left me with no power and a confused sea state. The engine came on and I motored for St Helens.