16 January 2012 | About 50 miles from Cape Agulhas between Antarctic and Africa
Tough tough night....30 knots sustained and big following seas...even with up-to-date forecasts this God foresaken place cant be predicted. In order to slow progress last night as the weather was supposed improve later at Agulhas, I had only the reefed jib up. Because the autopilot was pushing the boat back and forth through the wind, the jib was jibing nastily. At 30 knots the sail luffs violently and can rip quite easily. So, ran to the front and managed to pull it down. My expectation was to sail on 'bare poles'(no sails) using the big mast as a sail but no sooner had I re-entered the safe haven of the cabin, the boat lost all forward motion and stopped. This was not good as the seas were becoming quite steep - a cat is very vulnerable side to the seas-can flip. Only one thing to do....put on one engine and use that to give the boat forward direction. I changed the autopilot and with that combination in place, low revs no sail and strong following wind....we once again proceeded forward at 7 knots. I had already put out two warps(long trailing lines) to slow my progress down such that, as I mentioned, I would not be rounding(tonight) in high winds. All night....big breakers threatened the stern of the boat until finally one broke over my instruments putting two inches of water in the entire cockpit.
As the night progessed with high winds and increasing waves, and not knowing what would transpire ahead, I lay down every chance I could to try to sleep or at least relax...relax...relax. During one of these sessions the Shearwater lurched to side prompting me to get the EPIRB near me-one of the very few times I have taken this precaution. The EPIRB when activated alerts the authorities and is only used in dire emergencies...ie sinkings.
Light came and with that I had to make a decision....try to put up the jib so I could turn off the engine and save fuel or carry on with the engine necessitating the difficult, nasty job of filling the tanks with diesel from the inside. But thank God, when I turned off the engine to see if the BG would hold course with no sail, I was very pleasantly surprised....she held course - no sails, no engine, two warps and proceeding at about 4 knots. And thats where I am at the present time, approaching Cape Agulhas, the later the better - Im estimating 10 oclock tonight.
---------- radio email processed by SailMail for information see: http://www.sailmail.com