The Calm Before the Storm

Aboard Phesheya-Racing we have been avidly scanning the weather data as we download it on our Xtra-link supplied Fleet Broadband 250 satellite communications system.  The problem that we are facing is how to avoid running into the light winds of the high pressure in front of us while watching out for the gale developing with the low pressure behind us.

Yesterday the high pressure was the dominating factor and this morning it remains so, though we are finally trying to make some meaningful easting to be sure that we are in the right position when the forecast gale does arrive.  It was a classic case of the calm before the storm as we nudged at the edges of the high pressure yesterday.

In the early hours of the morning we saw the lights of a ship passing astern of us but we were unable to identify her.  As the sun rose it revealed a flat sea with a light NE breeze blowing and we had another beautiful day of sailing in crisp sunshine.

During the afternoon a second ship appeared and we had a very pleasant conversation with the officer of the watch of the Genco Surprise.  He told us that they were carrying soya beans from Brazil to the Far East.

With the forecast for gales later we took the opportunity to make sure that the boat is well prepared for any eventuality.

I used a technique borrowed from the adventure sport of rap-jumping to go overboard and remove both bobstays from the bow as they aren’t useful anymore, now that we can’t use the prodder.  In order to do that I put my climbing harness on backwards and then attached a halyard behind me so that Phillippa could lower me head first over the bow.  Like this I was able to lie in a position like a hang-glider pilot and work close to the waterline without getting wet!

We also took the mainsail down and rigged the third reef line.  Just in case…

As we were doing that we had the remarkable luck to come across a very large pod of Long-finned pilot whales.  It was difficult to estimate the group size but it must have been at least 50 and possibly as many as 100!  They passed very slowly about 1/4 mile away, just to far to get a decent photo, but I think we did get some very good video footage!  some of the younger members of the pod were very frisky and we saw a few of them breaching quite spectacularly.

In the evening the wind suddenly shifted more to the E as the high pressure held the gale at bay and by early this morning we were forced to do a series of tacks in order to make any progress.  So far we have tacked 7 times in the last 7 hours, but now the wind has shifted N of E again and we have the main ballast tank full and are beating in a roughly easterly direction.  The barometer took a bit of a nose dive around sunrise, while we were in the middle of tacking, and with the increasingly choppy seas and gusty winds we thought the gale might be upon us, but now that we are heading E again the barometer has flattened out.  This does not mean that we are escaping the weather, only that for the moment we are moving E at the same rate as the pressure system.  The weather is still coming, and the motion onboard is already getting quite uncomfortable, not to mention cold.  Below 14 degrees this morning.

We saw from the last position report that BSL as finished now so we really can congratulate Ross and Campbell on a great race!  Well done!

18 Responses to The Calm Before the Storm

  1. Gregory Hall October 28, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    We are following you from far away (Brisbane!).
    All the best for the trip home on your familiar route.
    Fair (and strong enough) winds,

  2. Lindsay Birch October 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Hope you have the wind by now. I guess you will be here in a week’s time so we’re getting ready.
    Paul’s birthday tomorrow.
    All the best.

  3. Hans Thijsse October 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    OK, lets get that wind switched on now and ride that sleigh. You’ll get there in third!
    From London,
    Hans & Lyn (& Sean)

  4. Brian & Roz - New York October 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Looks like you are in the best position to catch the front to the west. Good sailing and enjoy the ride-

    Best to you both

  5. Andrew October 29, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    AH, here comes that wind. I hope it is manageable and that you can take many miles out of the other boats. Safe Sailing.

  6. Niekie Rust October 29, 2011 at 6:06 am #

    I am hoping the developing weather outcome, will be in your favour – you can still come in at 3rd – good luck.

  7. Jannie October 29, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    40 miles to Sec.Hayai. 5th place we come…. One at a time, girls.

    Don’t you just love the south…

  8. Hugo October 29, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    You were “mentioned in despatches” this morning on the 6am SAFM news. Weather forecasts look as though they are working out for you. Good luck!

  9. Doug October 29, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Excellent call on going south! Looks like you will catch the wave all the way to CT. Looks like 3rd/4th is possible! Last push now! You can do it!

  10. Paul Maré October 29, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Team Majimoto is waiting patiently to welcome you!

  11. Barbi Rickard October 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Getting closer, wish I could be there to welcome you, and then see you off on the next leg. I think of you guys a lot, and wonder if at the moment your ‘gale’ has come through. Hope you can clock over 9kts, maybe even 14!!!
    Better strap in Pippapotamus and

  12. Barbi Rickard October 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Just love your account of the whales. Also enjoy the stories about the boats and their cargoes.

  13. Barbi Rickard October 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Me again, since this morning you have overtaken the 9kts mark, keep going, going, going!!! Well done. You are eating up the miles.

  14. Hans Hammig October 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Gough is far south, but even Financial Crisis might be forced to leave her to port. It might well end up as a regatta situation. Even Sec. Hayai can come back into the mix if they catch the inside lane (and if that one holds). For Cessna Citation I wonder how their calculation (and execution thereof) will work out.
    No news obviously means good news. To busy harnessing the wind …

  15. Brian & Roz - New York October 29, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    Great job on routing south and then setting up for a reach in to CT


  16. Len Davies October 30, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Looking great with good boatspeed! Hang in there, looking forward to your arrival.

  17. Steve Chapman October 30, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Looks like your weather routing is going to pay off. Well done!! Watching you fly in to CT. Good luck with the gale!! All the best from Brenda & Krista too.

  18. Jannie October 30, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    Took some miles from F. Crisis. Go Phillipa go!!!!

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