45/26S 42/44E 0710UTC. Distance covered in last 24 hours: 139.4 nautical miles. Another day, another low pressure system in the Southern Ocean. Yesterday, the problem was that I had a plan for sail changes, and then didn’t follow it. 2 reefs in the main plus staysail, then 1 reef and staysail, then staysail rolled and storm jib.
The winds were forecast for 30/35/40 knots the highest in a few places. So in the previous night, when I got to the 3rd reef, and the boat was going really nicely downwind, I rolled the staysail but didn’t put up the storm jib. So when the wind went to 45/50/55 knots, downwind, with the mainsail out, and after trying every angle of sail to slow the boat from wild surges to 22 knots, to reach, to broad reach, nothing would slow the boat. I didn’t think that in 50 knots of wind the mainsail would come down going downwind, and without the storm jib, we didn’t have an option to go upwind and then drop the main.
So we tore along at breakneck speed, highest wind gust seen at 62 knots(!), with few options. I feared that if I tried to drop the main sail and it got up against the PBO rigging it could damage to the rigging and teh sail itself–and our lazy jack system doesn’t contain the aft end of the sail well. Anyway, finally, near the end of the huge blow, having been up and desperately worried for 24 hours, with 18 hours of this blow, I remembered the picture of Bernard Stamm at the start of the Velux race, going upwind with 3rd reef, trimmed in. I tried that sail setup, and the boat finally slowed and the beating we were taking lessened. A difficult day for the boat and for me.
When the wind started to diminish, we were still left with 20-foot seas from multiple directions. I decided to take a look a the weather map, and saw, to my horror, that there was another low coming up on us. The barograph has just started to descend now for this next low. During the night I sailed northeast, to make as sure as possible that I would be on the correct side of that low to have at least downwind or reaching conditions, and thus our jog to the NE.