We expected a southwesterly wind at some point, but yesterday was a bit silly. Matt & I were discussing putting a reef in just for practice - at the time it was blowing a gentle ten knots, so was hardly necessary. We went through the motions, Rachel & Matt going forward to tie in the tack line, Mia and myself handling the main sheet and halyard, Dad driving. By the time we re-sheeted the newly reefed main, the wind had dropped even further.
By then we were already close-hauled. The fact we had 48 hours of downwind or reaching conditions was a minor miracle for summertime in these parts. The typical stable weather pattern sees a SW'ly breeze coming off the back of the Bermuda High. It'll increase as lows approach from the west, then swing north after a frontal passage, and eventually back to SW after the accompanying low pushes offshore. So we expected headwinds.
Soon after putting that reef in, it was apparent that we really did need it. The wind built to 15 knots, then 18, the whitecaps building with it, and Isbjörn blasting through the waves, opening up deck leaks we knew we must have had, but hadn't yet discovered (the prism in the forward head, and the sliding hatch over the forepeak). Another few hours later and we were reefing the genoa. Soon after that, and before dinner, we took another reef in the mainsail and were by then pretty buttoned down.
We tried another simulation, and attempted to rig the staysail on the inner forestay. What we really needed was the 95% genoa but that would have required removing the big genoa which is a huge amount of deck work. I knew the staysail would be too small, but it might be better than a poorly furled genoa, which didn't set too good going to weather. Matt and I went forward and rigged the stay. Dad passed up the sail through the sliding hatch. Mia and Rachel readied the running backstay. After Matt and I had hanked on the sail, we took a few more turns on the turnbuckle to get a bit more forestay tension. BANG! I thought we had broken a shroud or a mast fitting. Instead, the bronze threads on the turnbuckle itself had stripped and popped, the thing losing about an inch of tension in the process. So much for that idea! I'm very glad it happened now though and not offshore in November en route to the Caribbean, when the weather can be nasty enough that we might truly need it. Another item on the fix-it list.
The weather was fine - bright sunshine, puffy clouds and a strange but beautiful tiny little rainbow high in a small wisp of cirrus cloud, something I've never seen before. All the colors right there in a one single cloud, and brilliant. Isbjörn was sailing fast, over 7 knots, exacerbating the true wind speed and making it feel even windier (one side effect of owning a faster boat which I'll happily live with!) The occasional wave would hit the windward hull at the wrong moment and send a towering splash, on one occasion as high as the lower spreaders, back into the cockpit, dousing us crew. It wasn't rough, per say, but we were heeled too hard to cook dinner, and my dad finally gave up trying to sleep in the vee berth and moved onto the salon settee. Challenging sailing, and our first real upwind slog since owning the boat. Isbjörn doesn't pound at all, but rather sails to weather like a freight train, a solid motion that produces confidence in her skipper.
Warmer / Pirate Jokes
The air temperature has been steadily on the rise since leaving Canadian waters. No more down jackets at night. Instead hot, humid southerly wind, a salty, sticky cockpit and damp clothing down below. Mia's bunk on the low side got splashed through the opening port in the cockpit, so is now sufficiently salty. My beard is two days beyond needing shaved, and with the warmer humid weather, I'd like to rip it off entirely. It's driving me nuts!
A pirate walks into a bar. He's got a big wooden ships wheel sticking out of his pants. The bartender asks 'What's up with that wheel?' The pirate replies, 'Don't know where it came from, but this wheel is driven' me nuts!'
Where does a pirate keep his buccaneers? Right under his buckin' hat!
Until next time...