A graphic email from the front line of the Southern Ocean

Well, I got well and truly beaten up last night! 50 knots true. The barometer dropped like a stone from 989 to 980 in 4 hours. I had my heart in my throat. I didn’t battle that hard with anything or so I thought, however I ache today. It is also so cold. Once the sea abates tonight I might be using up those heater hours I have spare.

I ended up with the staysail furled away and eventually I had probably only the last third of the headsail out and a three reefed mainsail. That wasn’t too bad.

The waves were the worst, not too many of them were slamming but they had the whole deck on the leeward side underwater quite a lot. I sat watching the aft lower through the galley window swaying with the force of the water and the breeze, not a friendly sight. I shall check all the terminals when I can move around the deck.

The pilot did well but it was also a complete bitch, too. I guess I wouldn’t want to drive either in those conditions. About five times the 103 fault came up and I cleared it and it went back to work. From what I can remember at the time most of them were with big waves or with the boat rounding up with a flogging headsail and it not getting her back again. I must say I was in ‘Perf 4’ setting and it still struggled.

I also had it on wind for a short time but it didn’t like that I would guess at too much movement at the top of the rig. So it went back to compass setting. The worst was when a big wave rounded us up and the pilot didn’t get her back in time and we tacked.

I had already tacked in a lull of 45 knots and it was hideous, so now I was pinned. It took me 30 minutes to get the boat back and tack. The waves stopped me most of the time, I was just cringing at the rig with everything loaded the wrong way or shaking around. Good job we always have both runners
on with three reefs. Now that should be written in the manual.

I’ll tell you something for nothing, there is no way that I would be down here on my own in any other yacht.

I am hoping as conditions moderate during the course of this evening that everything will be okay and I may be able to get some sleep, food and warmth. I will be awake all bloody day until I see a friendly 20 something for the wind speed to make me feel better.