Evening brought a wind change and the end to our pleasant spinnaker sailing. Watch change saw spinnaker dropped and yankee 2 and staysail hoisted all while a spinnaker was being repaired and packed downstairs. Rather a busy start to a watch. We were soon reaching in 18 + knots of breeze and distinctly different to the previous night the sky was pitch black .Steering was by instruments and compass alone. Something eery about helming while staring into the blackness and the white water streaming past along the leeward side of the hull , especially for those who had not done so before.
Morning woke to 2 reefs In the main and an increasing breeze. Easy to steer at first but gradually getting more difficult as we powered up the main looking for more speed to stay ahead of Punta A couple of miles behind us. We certainly got more speed but at the expense of quite a few round ups.
With the close reaching life down below has got a little less comfortable with the boat on a constant heel.
And another black night. Helming in these conditions is like some weird video game. You can’t see anything in front of you so it’s at the instruments and try and keep on course. I look up in hope of finding a star but none appears .All the while the surface you’re standing on js pitching and rolling underneath your feet.
Took over helm at 0800 just after previous watch had had a long round up in a squall gusting to 46 knots. Double reefed main yankee 2and staysail , and yacht seemed to be behaving nicely in the 30 to 35 knots across the waves and wind. Soon caught by a wave and 45 knot squall and yacht rounds up and rudder stalls and despite fully easing the main we stay on our side for along time. Eventually the yacht bears away. Jorge appears saying we are going to reef. I look down at the instruments and the wind is persistently above 40 knots. I go to the mast with Will for the reef. I’m starting to find ‘lying’ on the mast 5ft above the deck on a heeling yacht not that uncomfortable,but the conditions are a bit wild. We are going for reef 3 there already being 2 reefs in. It takes a bit to get the sail down as the main just wants to re inflate and go back up the mast. When we get the cringle of reef 3 unfortunately Will had not yet released it from reef 2 as he lost the spike. We release the handy billy cleat and every time we go to connect it the sail flings it away from our hands. In the end we put a sail tie through the eye in the main and use that to get it on.The yacht is much more stable following the reef. We still have a couple of round ups.During one I am easing the main while Ming is on the helm, a wave hits and I am thrown across the deck into the starboard traveller winch.Must have hit my right leg on something also. Seems there is no major damage. Towards the end of the watch we put in a gybe. Clearly this carries a high risk of a further round up but Seumas and Jorge conduct it well. On the new tack the course is straight down the waves. The new watch are surfing down waves sometimes at speeds over 20 knots.
At night we take over and there is still a large sea but wind has dropped to 25 to 30 but still with gusts to 35. The boat behaves nicely and for some of the time we have stars to dteer by. The course is now more across the waves and at times we hit 17 knots but not in the 20s like earlier in the day.The skies are again very dark toward the end of our watch . Temperatures have been cool but not uncomfortable.