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S/V Nereida sails around the world - Day 264: A nasty storm with gale force winds and big, steep sea

by Jeanne Socrates 25 Jun 04:48 UTC
S/V Nereida sails around the world © Jeanne Socrates

Monday 8:30am NZT (Sun 2030GMT) - Very dull, overcast sky. Wind from NNW now and seas still very choppy with only a 5-second interval but down from last evening. Wind supposed to be around 23-26kt, according to weather files, but seems to be quite a lot less - nearer 12-15 kt, I'd say. We're only making around 4.6kt so will unfurl genoa. Still thinking about untying a reef - maybe after breakfast...

9:15am - Glad I didn't unfurl the genoa or let out the third reef - wind now up to 25kt or more - the forecast was right! I actually furled in genoa to the third reef mark - ready for a possible 'blow', with wind possibly increasing even more in gusts - to over 30kt.

Plenty of birds around, enjoying the strong wind - one albatross looks like a Laysan but I need to check. Has a lot of black markings on its underwing and a yellow bill.

Noticed the topping lift is trailing behind in the sea - seems to have parted near the mast head. Must retrieve it when things calm down but no rush for time being since not using motor and no chance just now that it will get tangled in prop but must get it in very soon. Has been doing a good job supporting the boom since the problem with the kicker several months ago when its rivets let go - but clearly not up to the task in the rough conditions encountered over the last few months. Its absence will cause a problem from time to time - no way I can replace it, unfortunately.

CHUN I NO.11 - nos 2,4,6,7 are all fishing boats (Chinese?) about 4-7 miles off - one due to pass pretty close..... Hope they keep clear!

The one that was about to get within one mile has now slowed right down - presumably to let us pass ahead and avoid a close encounter - excellent!

A second that was due to get close has turned around to head S.

Called both on VHF radio but no reply although they must have heard me calling since within 3 miles. Had a look but neither is visible in these seas.

Wind still well up, seas have increased as well and we're now making about 4.6kt.

The Superwind is living up to its name and putting in up to 14A in this strong wind.

Time for breakfast - still not had that yet.

12:20pm - Think we're into a lull, although I'm hoping it's an improvement in conditions from now on... Just had a couple of hours of hell - in 35-40kt winds, big seas, at 4-6m & 8 secs interval, well heeled and being tossed around by each successive foam-swept wave which frequently washed over the decks and into the cockpit.... As soon as I went to ease the mainsheet, I got totally doused with water twice in quick succession - TG this time I'd raised the hood on my foulie jacket so didn't get too much down inside. All very unpleasant and I have to say I was constantly worried and wondering if we'd be OK for much longer, we were being heeled and tossed around so very much. Felt very much like survival mode.... Definitely one of those times when you wonder what you're doing out here!

I noticed the Superwind was not turning any more - looks as though a short piece of line has got caught around its hub. Hope I can release that once we're into calm seas sometime soon.

With the topping lift gone, and having eased the mainsheet to try to heel less, the boom was moving a lot. I think it was being held by the bimini steelwork when it was centred but easing meant it was no longer supported and the vang/rod-kicker was loose and not working to give the support it is designed to. (It's a gas-filled system that pushes up to support the weight of the boom and a pulley system on it is tensioned to keep the boom down as required.)

A big bang!...Just got really knocked sideways suddenly by a big wave - we didn't quite broach but a near thing...

12:45pm - Wind still abated... hope it stays down! Might just be a lull.. A lot quieter but wind still in mid-20s.

The Chinese fishing boats are still around but keeping a distance away - 6 miles or more.

Time to grab some brunch and check weather info again... I'm not in a rush to shake out any reefs just yet.

Once this Front has passed over, the wind is likely to back quite quickly to NW, eventually easing and coming from W by midnight, then easing further and becoming WSW-SW 17kt tomorrow, if the forecast is correct.

3pm Wind seems to have died right down so we're struggling to make our course with little boat speed. Need more canvas but I'm worried in case the forecast winds of 26kt should arrive again - with higher gusts... Raining now.

Unfurling some genoa would help speed, and not too difficult to furl in again if needed.

Light beginning to fade early with so much grey cloud.

6pm - More rain - haven't had much for some time - good to wash the salt off the boat!

Wind back up, around 25kt, with higher gusts, so good to have third reef in still. Genoa also still well furled. No problem making our course of 070T with boat speed back up to 5.5-6kt.

Just had another knock from a slightly breaking wave on the beam - always a slight shock when it happens - unexpected... and boat jerks suddenly sideways, to leeward (downwind).

Radio has been going well over today - have spoken (on 14165) to Rick, VE7TK, in Victoria B.C., with excellent signals both ways just after sunset, to California, Oregon and Arizona and also to Melbourne, Australia, and then, just after dark, on 20m, to Fiji (on the S. Pacific Cruisers Net, on a maritime frequency).

Running generator - with windgen jammed by string, and so not turning, having to be extra careful to keep an eye on battery state of charge.

10pm -- Feels relatively calm now, with wind well eased from its earlier intensity and seas a lot more gentle, although still rolling us around. Sails still well-reefed overnight in case of possible gusts. Should be fine to shake them out in the morning, when weather will definitely be more settled.

Tuesday 3am NZT (Mon 1500GMT) - Dark night with little help from moon behind thick cloud layer in light rain. Was woken by noise of boom trying to gybe and banging into bimini frame - wind had backed a lot, to W, so running downwind now. Struggled into foulies and boots.

Bimini frame was stopping the very low boom from gybing - a good thing but had to get boom onto a tensioned preventer and ease mainsheet more for a run. Clearly, gas-filled rod-kicker is no longer pushing up on boom to help keep it in place correctly - reason for having attached topping lift some months ago to keep it above framework.

Retrieved broken topping lift from trailing in sea from aft end of boom (along with several bright, tiny, phosphorescent beings that had, unfortunately for them, attached themselves to the line). Unfurled a lot more genoa - need more sail but will wait until daylight to shake out third reef in main. Slow now, running in lighter wind.

Battery charge is fine for now. Back to my bunk for some more sleep.

Tuesday 7am NZT (Mon 1900GMT) - Mainly cloudy sky with a few small blue patches - cloud beginning to break. Rolling around downwind in 3m seas from WSW-SW of ~15kt. Need to gybe onto our preferred course of 075T and shake out more sail to speed us up - very slow just now and genoa not being very effective - keeps collapsing. Likely to need to pole it out but will wait until we've gybed and are on course to decide on that.

While sailing around the world, I'm trying to raise funds to help support the superb life-saving work done by the RNLI (Lifeboats) in Britain each and every day of the year, regardless how bad the weather. In fact, the worse it is, the more likely they are out there, helping someone in distress - whether a swimmer, surfer, small boat or big ship, night or day, summer or winter. They are all volunteers with normal day-jobs who respond immediately to a call and it is a charity - no government funding - so they rely on our help to fund their intensive training and maintain their equipment.

It would be great if you would take a moment to click on the Lifeboats link here, if you'd like to show your support for my efforts at sailing solo, nonstop, unassisted around the globe, trying to set a World Record as the oldest person to do so, by donating something towards the great work the RNLI do every day. If a lot of people put in even a small amount, it all adds up... Thanks a lot! If you can help, it will be very much appreciated. Let's see if we can reach my target!

1900GMT (= 7 a.m. NZT) - end of Day 264. We made 96 DMG, measured in a straight line between the two 1900GMT positions.

Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 264 (by daily DMGs): 21,373

Distances (at 1900GMT): Wellington, N.Island, N.Z.: 1022 to SW; East Cape, N.Z.: 796 to SW; Christchurch, S.Island, N.Z.: 1157 to SW; Tahiti: 1301 to NE.

Position, as posted to and (using my US callsign KC2IOV):

Time: 2019/06/24 19:00GMT
Latitude: 33-52.28S
Longitude: 165-46.66W
Course: 043T
Speed: 3.3kt
Wind Speed: 12kt
Wind Dir: WSW
Swell Dir: WSW
Swell Ht: 3.0m
Clouds: 100%
Baro: 1014.1hPa
Trend: 0
Air Temp: 20.0C
Comment: Downwind; need to gybe onto 075T & shake out reefs.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of the S/V Nereida.

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