small world sailing

Day 40 »« Day 38

Day 39

N47.09.10 W010.11.65
Heading 055T Wind, F5-7 Westerly.   
Well, so that’s what storm force winds feel like! that’s just crazy nuts!!
Hydrovane wasn’t even coming close to keeping up last night, I decided to try and deploy my home made sea anchor from the front which is the agreed method from what you read, but it just put the beam of the boat to the waves, not good. I got another extra long length of line and streamed it even further from the stern and it sort of worked keeping the starbord quarter to the waves. I drifted slowly SE all night as the wind howled around me.
Once or twice the boat has been launched, I have a little brass Lloyds plaque that states the boats registered weight is 10tons and 73/100ths plus all the bits on board I must top 11tons easy and yet just every now and then, off she pops from the top of these waves. A few have broke over the top too.
I had a really good nights sleep, slept like a baby, didn’t set any alarms, what can I do? I’ve done all I can. I woke to an odd smell, like diesel oil and rubber, I was a bit worried that maybe the tank had ruptured in the night but it turns out it was just my feet…….again. I am desperate for a shower.
At Noon I stuck my nose out of the hatch again, winds had moderated to 25kts gusts 30kts+ so I thought I’d have a little go at some sailing. Pulled in the sea anchor and got a little head sail out. Things have progressed from there really, it’s slowly moderated, that Low is working it’s way up the Irish Sea, and I have 3 reefs in the main and some head sail, the winds on the beam. It’s lumpy, cold, windy, rainy sqawls etcetcetc all the things you come to expect. But I’ve cleared the 400nm mark this afternoon so nearly there. Looking forward to a nice cup of tea and a ham sandwich.
If you sail, read on, if not you can skip this bit.
I shy’d away from sea anchors and hove too methods of heavy weather handling, I didn’t like the idea of being passive in a ‘what will be will be’ kind of way.
I was naive and foolish. No one should attempt an ocean crossing without a sea anchor and have practiced deploying it. There is nothing you can do in a F8-10 (12?) absolutly nothing atall. Best on the boat and the crew if you just sit tight and wait for it to pass.
Running works, but I covered nearly 140nm the other day running, fortunatly in the right direction, but you wouldn’t have to be to close to shore for this to suddenly become a very bad tactic.
Hoave-to I don’t like because of the unecessary strain put on the sails and rigging. The forces involved here must be enormous and getting through the storm safely is one thing but if you ruin your sail in the process, how would you continue sailing after?
A sea anchor is the answer, holds you in position supprisingly comfortably, puts nothing under strain but the kleets which are designed for it and once it’s all over the rigg and sail, with luck, will be as you left them. Google ‘jonsen series drogue’ I think it’s called, for a good one, it’ll certainly be my next purchase. 
It’s been pretty Joyless this last…….well, actually one way or the other, this entire leg and I don’t mind saying I’ll be glad to see the back of it! All charictor building stuff of course and an increadible experience but this is just endurance now.
July 5, 2008 at 18:48
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