Isbjorn Offshore: Hove-to!

Another beautiful, sun-drenched morning! And yet another day of headwinds! So much for leaving on a Friday...Etienne, this is your fault ;) All kidding aside, we've had a pretty good trip thus far, it's just been painfully upwind!

Last evening was sort of the culmination of our frustration and exhaustion. We started the morning off up with full sail, close-reaching in about 12-15 knots of breeze and right on course. But in what's been the story of this passage, the wind just kept veering and heading us, and building all the while. By 1800 it was blowing 25-30 again from the NNW. Too bad we weren't going to Bermuda! Dinner was make-your-own turkey wraps as it was too rough to cook.

As the wind built we kept rolling up more headsail. Until we couldn't - the unit got stuck, and I had horrible flashbacks to our January trip when the old furler just plain seized up. This time it was a simple halyard wrap aloft - since leaving Florida, the jib halyard had slipped a little. Too much was out aloft and it spun around the head stay. We had an all-hands call to deal with it. We ran downwind, blanketing the jib with the main. We had to unfurl the entire sail in order to tighten the halyard. Long story short, it worked!

With the wind and seas building still, we hoisted the staysail and took a second reef in the main. Darkness was approaching, along with some questionable looking squalls. The crew, myself included, were knackered. Just before sunset we pulled the staysail to windward and hove-to, the first time in my career I've done so for reasons other than a swim!

To be clear, conditions were challenging but by no means dangerous, not even close. Heaving-to in our case was for rest for the crew, nothing more, The wind was in the 20s, the seas 6-10 feet. We just needed a collective break from the upwind pounding we were taking. Hove-to, Isbjorn rode like a happy duck on the pond, gently taking the waves on the port bow and heeling slightly to starboard. For six hours we rode like this until by 0300 the wind had dropped into the teens and we got under way again. The experience, to me, was an excellent lesson in patience. It felt great to retire to my bunk knowing the boat was nicely setup and would need no attention. I slept soundly, my dreams taking me somewhere on another planet.

Alas, our headwinds continue today, albeit with a little less punch. We're about to set the jib again and stow the staysail. We're not quite laying our course, but were optimistic that the weather will have had enough fun with us and allow the wind to start backing to the west in earnest.

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