Sanya Surfing, broken vang

6th December
The average age of Sanya watch,of which I am watch leader is 58.5.Fred,Spokesy, Liz,Carl , me and Barry. But I’d say we’re no slouches. We get up on Deck to find we have a full main and yankee 2 but still have similar wind to last night. Sea has flattened somewhat.We are asked to sail deep and fast at 140 to 150 degrees to the wind . It gives us a course of around 125 degrees slightly further south than where we want to be.Take the helm at watch change and the yacht is behaving nicely and relatively easy to keep on course . Frequent short surfs send our speed to 15 to 17 knots for a short time. A few minutes in to the watch we go down a wave that sends us on a long surf with a peak speed of 20 knots. The morning continues along the same lines with all our helms. We have a couple of brief round ups during some squalls that are recovered quickly. At one point I am watching all the birds following the boat from the stern and the fins of a whale appear briefly above the swells. Our watch covers 47 miles so just shy of a 12 knot average. Just after our watch Punta crosses a few miles ahead of us. Being now down below 44 degrees near the ice limit of 45, we gybe to come further North and will likely gybe back in a few hours toward the rhumb line.
Despite the cold this is the sailing we came for.
The evening watch we are asked to sail a 105 COG and not flog the yankee ! After observing 2 of my watch(45 mins each) struggle with the task I take the helm myself and realise the task is extremely difficult with the boat being under powered and a sloppy sea state and we alter course to COG between 110 to 115. Going down below to warm up for a bit I raise the issue with Seamus who seems not too fussed and says we’re averaging a good course.
The last part of our watch the breeze finally comes in . We get a round up that flogs the main significantly which is unfortunately followed by a crash gybe. There is a loud bang and the boom is now riding up indicating that we have broken the vang .The block holding the vang has bent and the pin holding it has given way . Fortunately the foreguys held and there was no more serious damage. I take the helm and keep us on a steady course while Seamus and Carl rig an alternative vang system then hand the helm over to Ollie from the oncoming watch.

7th December

Woke to a brighter day on the Southern Ocean with some blue sky and glimpses of the sun. It’s still very cold but with the wind dropping to 20 to 25 knots there was not so much wind chill.The water temperatures now being between 5 and 8 degrees the inside of the is now also cold . Finally think I have the clothing nailed ,icebreaker thermal ,Henry Lloyd sailing trousers, Musto one piece on lower half ,2 base layer thermal, adrenalin mid layer ,kathmandu mid layer fleece plus singlet component of Musto one piece on upper half ,1 pair socks under pair of waterproof socks,sharkskin hat ,dry suit over the top of all ,Musto ocean gumboots. The only problem area is your hands and can’t find the right gloves for the job though neoprene kayak gloves are OK. Went without gloves today and with reduced wind chill it was fine.
20 to 25 knots this morning with full main and yankee 1 sailing downwind at 140 degree wind angle . Mostly the yacht behaved nicely with little surfs down waves but occasionally a wave would round you up and it was a bit heavier getting back on course compared to previous few days .
The wind came in a bit more for the next watch and I ended up back on deck assisting at the mast with putting a reef in the main.
We’ve now sailed over 2000 miles and are well on our wy to Fremantle.

8 December

Woke to perfect sailing conditions ,white sails ,yankee 1 and 1 reef in the main ,breeze from 140 to 145 wind angle , varying between 23 to 32 knots. Yacht nicely surfing down waves and not rounding up. We cover 25.6 miles in the first 2 hours and look like cracking 50 for the watch but in the end measured on the straight line cover 49.85.
The evening watch which is now mainly after sunset was in lighter variable breezes with intermittent squalls .Now back on a port gybe having turned North. We start of with an unfavourable course of 30 degrees but windshifits allowed us in the end to push to a lower course around 80 degrees, closer to the rhumb line to Australia.

December 9

Wake to light winds . It’s almost warm if that is possible in the Southern Ocean . The wind in a more Northerly direction is I guess creating a warm water current and water temperature by afternoon is 13 degrees, even thought we are only 1 degree of latitude north of where the temp was 6 degrees. I shed a layer of clothing and put on just my foulies,rather than dry suit. We have a full main and yankee 1 and breeze 8 to 11 knots. Wind angle is 100 degrees so we raise the staysail and trim everything to keeps us moving. We know this is the calm before the next storm. The albatrosses , petrels and shearwaters are constantly circling . The winds predicted for tonight are 50 plus with gusts into the low 80s. So we’re talking force 11 to 12 ie storm to hurricane. The wind gradually increases and while I am on the foredeck calling sail trim a gust comes through and the yacht is heeling and Fred is struggling to control it. I ask for the mansheet to be eased and Seamus appears and says we’re taking down the Yankee 1. The rest of our watch is spent getting the yankee 1 down unhanking it, flaking it ,getting it in the bag, getting it downstairs, getting the yankee 3 up banking it on , raising it. As I sit writing this in my off time , I have sent the storm jib up , and the yankee 3 has come down. 2 reefs have gone in the main and staysail is up . Storm jib is hanked on ready. The wind is slowly increasing; The Storm is coming.

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