The wind still in the north and increasing and we under 1 reef in the main. plus staysail.We are sailing at a wind angle around 100 to 110 degrees with a COG 105 close to the great circle route to Fremantle. Conditions are 30 knots with a shortish northerly sea.
Our rather old watch with average age 58.5 has 5 people we get to helm and pretty much we rotate every 45 minutes.
We set foreguys ,but in retrieving them from the boom with it already I am washed down the deck ion the leeward side into the guardrail yet again injuring my right side.
Things go pretty smoothly for our first three rotations.Get out of the heads and feel the boat broaching and come up to find Liz struggling with the wheel. Look at the wind dial which now read 34 knots.We dump the main and I take the wheel from the opposife wheel and correct the course. Next gust is 38 and next one well in excess of 40 and I dump the vang and point the boat downwind. We inform Seamus we need to reef . We go straight from reef 1 to 3 . The wind has not only increased but also turned west . We are now going downwind into the waves .As I bear away to our new course we catch the lip of a breaking wave which swamps the cockpit and pushes everyone in it over. It was quite a sight from my protected position at the helm. I go from helm to medic. One crew member has dislocated her little finger which I immediately reduce. The other injuries are minor bruised ribs and scraped noses. The wind abated somewhat so we shake 3 out and back to 2 reefs .
Morning watch the main has 3 reefs again we swap Y3 for staysail
Have a near near tethered mob when we attempt to tie down loose mainsail that is flapping around.
27.5 knot surf
Night of 4th December sailing under 3 reefs plus yankee 3 Carl beautifully steering down some waves but finally we go into a broach and while side on are hit by a large wave .I am washed across the stern as I am easing the main and call for the crew to grind the yankee while still knee deep in water. We come our of the broach back on course and Seamus appears first asking whether I’m injured , I seem ok.
It is obvious the wind is increasing and we need to reduce sail. We drop the yankee and raise the staysail Straight after this the boat lines up on wave that appears to be bottomless Carl nails the steering on the surf as the instruments record atop speed for the race of 27 5 knots We cycle through the helm all enjoying the conditions and recording surfs of over 20 knots.
One of our helm ,who had done pretty well till now , has a little trouble. He surfs down a wave and the boat is bearing way I tell him to turn to starboard but he turns to port ! We crash gybe and it looks like we are about to get pinned but then are so far upwind we are hove to and boat virtually stops.I turn the wheel with one hand from the side and turn back on to course. He takes back the wheel but we have a short round up followed by a repeated crash gybe! Guess it was a case of disorientation in the dark . We change out the helm after a rather disturbed skipper appears through the nav hatch.
Robin Knox Johnston’s words ring true;” the Southern Ocean is a cold miserable place .Don’t know why anyone would want to go there really ” And it is bitter cold . Enough layers under your dry suit or foulies will keep most of you warm but it is difficult to keep one’s hands warm.
We sail along in the strong breezes and following seas first under the yankee 2 and 2 reefs in the morning and finally in the evening toward the end of the watch shake it out to one reef.
I find myself more tired this leg having to get extra sleep in the 4 hour off watch.Maybe it is dealing with the cold.