|Vessel Name:||L'Eau Commotion|
|Vessel Make/Model:||Northshore 38|
|Hailing Port:||Brisbane Australia|
11pm Sunday 20th August 2017. With full intentions of keeping well clear of the large number of islands and rocks way out to sea from Esperance, just before dawn a gentle Southerly found us just around the 200 m contour and in an East going current of over a knot. OK head a bit Norwest and then this gentle breeze over the course of the morning developed int a full blown gale which required a further easing of the course and closer to the islands than I would have preferred. After 4pm the wind eased to below gale force and by 7pm shook out the reefs in the main just as huge wind shift occurred. Just as well so instead of trying to thread my way through the " Rocks & Shoals" I'm heading South out into the safety of the deep.
11pm Saturday 18th August 2017. Even though I have covered quite a few miles in L'Eau Commotion very little has been done in strong following conditions and I had hoped that the poled out headsail, in this case the small staysail, would balance the double reefed main. Not to be and as the winds increased to over 25 knots the yacht kept rounding up till I eventually doused the main amongst much flogging and cussing. I then found the poled out jib needed no balancing and even in stronger puffs the tendency to round up was minimal and self correcting, so one of my concerns, to wit, the ability of the yacht to run straight downwind was alleviated. Of course hand steering and even the autopilot will handle this easily but I don't want to overuse it as autopilots have a reputation for wearing out and it is so handy to have during sail changes. Unfortunately the top batten of the mainsail broke during this kerfuffle but I took it out and seems repairable. Longer range weather indicates that I may be able to round Cape Leeuwin without too much stuffing around although having said that, with recent practice, I'm getting quite good at.
10pm Friday 18th August 2017 ( UTC+9 ) The gentle breeze soon died down last night so dropped all sails until 5am and eased away under a quartering wind to a delightful morning. The crescent moon and the morning star hovered over the first blush of dawn as I set about a much needed tidy up and essential maintenance. The spinnaker pole is a bit big to handle on its own so gradually figured the correct run of sheets and halyards such that it can be set up and lowered in a slop basically using winches from the cockpit. With the poled out staysail got L'Eau Commotion to run more or less dead downwind but beyond 15 knots she tended to round up and so now with 20+ following winds we are running under double reefed main alone, which is mostly OK.
Its 9pm Thursday 17th August and what a difference a few hours has made. From blowing a gale at midday to a fresh breeze at 3pm to unfurl the staysail to 4pm to hoist the double reefed main to 6pm the full main and now just ghosting along. Hard to tell in the pitch black but even the swell seems to be rapidly dying down. I really should have the large jib up but with forecast winds of 25+knots in the next few days I'll play it safe. The only concern at the moment is that I might sleep through the alarms, being close enough to the shore to run aground by daylight should the wind direction change rapidly. After the thumps and bumps of the last few days I feel I could sleep in to next week but it's not to be.
For a very brief moment this afternoon I toyed with the idea of presenting a little more sail to the slightly easing wind. This silly idea was wiped away by a squall and conditions back to those adequately described by the GMDSS Forecast, to wit: Gale Warning Winds 30 to 40 knots , rough to very rough seas, heavy swell. I am now about 90 miles off the coast at the top of the Bight so will have to consider a change in direction by tomorrow afternoon but hopefully the winds will also be more favourable by then. In the meantime the yacht is steady enough to start reading Ayn Rand's " Atlas Shrugged ", a pretty solid work of dystopian fiction. I have not read enough of it to come to a critical opinion, but the thesis is promising. One thing for sure is it won't be for lack of free time to absorb the 1100 pages of fine print. It is now 9pm Wednesday 16th August 2017 ( UTC+9 ) and time to call it a day.
It is now 3:30am Wednesday 16th August and still hove to. From just before lunch yesterday to dusk Tuesday the wind was around 38 knots from the West with occasional brief respite but seemingly more often severe squalls of 40+ knots with heavy hail. Not the weather to be on deck but the small amount of headsail showing had to be reduced further. The wheel which had been lashed just a few degrees to Port was wrestled to downhill and off with a rush! Fortunately the auto pilot could handle the 8 or 9 knots with surges to 13 knots straight downwind and it was relatively simple to ease a sheet here, take up some slack there, and present an even smaller area of headsail. Back to lashed tiller with the beam wind, no more rounding up and relatively comfortable with no knockdowns greater than 80 degrees ( as measured by the noodle soup on the galley wall.) Although forward movement seems insubstantial we are making about 3 knots slightly into the wind so the drift at 90 degrees to the wind is somewhat less than a knot, equivalent to the drogue setting, a lot less trouble and much more comfortable. The forecast is for another day of this 30 knots so another day of bunk bashing with heroics, and soup, on the back burner.