VISIT BY THE DREADED 'SWESTER'
08 November 2011 | Between Reunion and the tip of Madagascar
The dreaded SWester visited yesterday evening. As always promised, such visits would not be amiable and It lived up to that mantle: It came without warning, It was ugly, threatening and dark, It dared one to survive its visit. I couldn't show It the door fast enough. And this was a baby SWester!! Imagine Its uglier uncle!
Well, let my log written during the encounter tell the story .( A few comments in parenthesis.)
NOVEMBER 7 1430 "Motorsailing at 1300 revs" (feeling every precious drop go from tank to exhaust)
1800 "At about 1715 we went from becalmed to dead into a SWester - winds 30 knots + - now going west off course - no signs of stopping - (from) Becalmed - black cumulus wall clouds (to) SWester in 5 minutes"
(At this point I was heading directly toward the east coast of Madagascar. And going very fast - 10-15 knots. I called my advisor, Troy Bethel, who is intimately knowledgeable for these waters to ask how close I could get to that coast. His answer: '150 miles before you will hit other currents and possible freak wavs.' I was only 175 miles off so .)
1830 "Turned away (from the wind) - put wind on port quarter - much better. (Boat slowed down, wind and boat both going same direction .BUT "
2000 "Going NE at 7-8 knots - wind 15- 20 - Rough - Backtracking" (I was now going back toward Mauritius along the path I had just crawled down all day)
(I wanted very much to turn and resume my SW track but couldn't as it would put me head into wind and waves which had started to build). I had to wait until the wind backed to the east(never sure if they ever would) at which point I would gybe the boat back to SW)
(As Im alone, I need to take every opportunity to lie down and rest. Even if I don't sleep, I must put rest into the bank hence the long periods between entries)
2330 "Turned back around - headed WSW again - seas bumpy still from storm."
(With the boat finally pointed in the right direction, I lay down and slept on and off until:
515 "Port engine on - no wind once again"(getting more and more worried about how much diesel I might have to use before the really crucial spots off Madagascar and S Africa)
730 "Engine off - sail up - wind SW (again heading into wind - going west (again) frustrating as hell."
930 "Sailing nicely with SSW wind"
Well, the stink left by the SWester has dissipated, Its precipitous malevolence remains only in my mind we are headed to Madagascar with benevolent winds on our beam(for now).