17 December 2013

When the change came it happened quickly. I was up in the cockpit around 1400. I’d seen some whales and was keeping an eye on them. They were about a mile away and there were at least three of them as I could see three plumes of spray at one time getting carried away on the wind like smoke from a firework. There may have been more, as the sprays seemed to be coming up pretty frequently but they never came any nearer so I couldn’t tell what they were or how many.

We had been sailing in a NE F3 and suddenly the wind dropped almost to nothing. To the SE I could see the water darkening and I suspected something was up. I went below and pulled on my oilskins and was not long back on deck when the wind came in gusty from the SE. I dropped the Genoa and pulled up the Jib. I thought the wind, when it did change, would maybe veer round slowly into the south over a few hours. But that was it over and done in five minutes. The swell was rolling in from the north and because it was now running into the wind it made for a lumpy motion.

Once or twice Elsi got knocked down by a sudden punch of wind but always got right back up again and carried on. It was heavy going though and at times it felt like we were trying to slough our way through soft sand. A racing boat would have kept the Genoa set but I was unsure of how strong the next gust was going to be and as night was coming on I sacrificed speed for more peace of mind.

The morning again was overcast. Squalls were all round us. I counted five at 0700. From an outstretched hand a dark line of cloud one thumb width above the horizon marked each squall. Below each one vertical grey sheets of water poured down to the sea. I caught some more of it as squalls came across us. One bucketful I caught I dipped in a cup and filled it up, then poured it down the inside of my neck. It was fresh and clean and refreshing. The water that had been two minutes before in a cloud in the sky above us was now making it’s way down to my stomach. There’s so much rain but so few rainbows. I think the light can’t get through the dense cloud to make them. We did have blue skies and white clouds this morning for an hour but it was soon back to grey again.

Some squalls brought wind and some didn’t. At 0930 I had to get on deck quick to get a reef in and it was slipped out an hour later. That is the way here with the wind, very up and down and rarely steady for long.

We still have goose barnacles growing and getting bigger. I’ve scraped them off before, and I did again this morning, but they keep coming back. They will be with us now for the duration I fear. I’ll have to go under Elsi at some point and see how bad it is. We spent a lot of money on good anti-foul but it doesn’t seem any better than what I had last time. Disappointing.
Still we’ve made what is a good days run under the circumstances. We might have been becalmed or even drifted north of where we were yesterday with the current. We’re a degree south in 24hrs and I’m happy with that. The wind now (1400) is about SE F4 and we are beating into it. It’s never easy to make good speed to windward but we’re plugging away.

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