0200 UtC 2nd January and a call of land ahoy awakes me in my bunk.The crew have spotted needle rocks off the South Coast of Tassy. The crew then gybe back onto Starboard toward the virtual mark South of Tasmania.
We come on watch at 0400 UTC with the code 2 up and 17 to 22 knots of breeze. Helming the yacht is a delight with mininal tendency to round up and nice surfs along the way.At one point hitting 17 knots in 21 knots of breeze. It was just a pleasure to sail downwind under spinnaker in nice weather and a contrast to most of the Southern Ocean. My co helmsman Dave just didn’t seem to get the same enjoyment when he took over and I went forward to rig the sheet for a gybe. Seumas came up and we made our final gybe toward Tasmania. After the gybe things became a little spicy and we dropped the code 2.Without a code 3 we hoisted the yankee 1. The wind dropped and on support we re hoisted the code 2.
We reached the waters off Bruny island before sunset .It was great to see some familiar landmarks.
The Odd Sight of Land
We spend so much time at sea a long way from the coast in these ocean crossing and the sight of land usually heralds the end of a crossing. So seeing land for such a long period like 48 hours is rather .
It became longer as the wind dropped out as we came past Tasman Island. It was great to see this landmark a that is famous in Australian yachting as the last turn in Sydney Hobart .The lighthouse is at height of over 250 m above sea level with magnificent cliffs plunging straight to the water. Would have been great to see these close up but race rules require us to be a minimum of 2 miles offshore. And also I get to see Bruny island from the seaward side .
And a bonus we got to encounter the famous Kialoa 2,at a distance , returning from the Sydney Hobart race. We are enjoying some comfortable conditions at present which is about to change to some bashing upwind.Strong northerlies are predicted that will turn South Eastern Australia into a furnace.We had some news that whole towns on the Southern nsw coast are being evacuated with the state still having multiple fires burning.
Upwind off Tassy
We tacked inshore halfway up the coast to avoid unfavourable currents then headed north east as the wind built from the north.As the wind increased we changed the yankee 1 out for the yankee 3. In the end on our watch we ended up putting in 2 reefs in the main.
This type of sailing is the most uncomfortable downstairs due to the constant heel making things difficult.It is often however the easiest conditions to helm in.
We are approaching the ocean sprint which starts level with the north Tasmanian coast and the wind is predicted to turn west then south. This will give us a good chance of picking up some points .
The wind gradually turned behind as we reached the Tasman sea and the sprint zone .We entered in good breeze under white sails which continues on our dawn watch . The wind gradually dropped but being without a code 3 now we were not able to set a kite. Soon after that on the next watch the code 2 was launched and feels like the boat has been humming along nicely overnight. The smoke from the Australian fires which had been blown out to sea had been blown back with the wind turning south east.
On another note our watermaker has broken down so we are now rationing our water to get to Airlie.
On watch for the last part of the sprint zone .We launch the code 3. Seumas after a period of time hands the wheel to me. Prior to this watch the discussions with the other watch leaders was only our best helms on till the end of the sprint. Code 3 in 18 to 21 knots ,even my other very good helm is not confident and particularly in the dark. Again the stars are scarce.I stay on the helm for the next 2 hours till we are through the sprint. A collapse a rare event The watch are finally getting the idea of trimming the kite as we surge down waves.Our time through the sprint looks like it will be the quickest. I hand over the helm and things go Ok though our course ends up somewhat lower than ideal.On the support watch following we go up to drop the kite as there are now multiple round ups in an increasing breeze.
On our following watch we are beam reaching in moderate conditions and I am able to get everyone other than myself to the helm.
We have been rapidly catching the fleet ahead ,now only 50 miles ahead ,whereas once it was 200. The question as always will be how long does the breeze last