Tuesday 29 July 2014

Windward into the storm

See ya Montebello's, still looks a little rough, hmm...
Finally, we made our getaway in 20 knot winds. Too bad it increased to over 30.. I wrote somewhere else, in the “Why bother junk rig” page, that cruisers don’t go to windward. Well..  we are today, for a good 45 miles into 30 knots and clear of the islands, it’s 3m seas too. We are a good 40 miles offshore where the seas are going to be rougher, we just need to get closer to land for the calmer water. Many yachts stop making progress into 35 knots but we didn’t have a lot of choice and I expected to make 2 knots average and mostly bobbing around in a hole going nowhere fast. Having done it, I can report it was both good and bad. The going was not comfortable, I was the one who was sick, because I was below, but at least felt better right after “laughing” into the bucket. Susie did not approve of the rough weather - see the video. The good…  Ashiki blasted up wind all day and for 10 hours without either of us touching the tiller. She ranged 3 to 3.5 knots into winds that did touch 35 knots. I think I touched a sheet twice. She averaged 3.1 knots, 45˚ to 50˚ off the wind, surging up and over the long swells all with the tiller lashed. 

This is far better than I ever expected. The boat can go to windward like a witch, even in a storm.

The storm, the video..

I spent a great deal of it below in the bunk. She may have gone quicker, as only 4 panels were on the foremast (3 reefed), but the ride was bumpy enough. Her light displacement, having the advantage of rising to the top of every wave and keeping us dry, has the disadvantage of transmitting every bump to the crew. But this kind of weather is ok for her, the waves are not short so no pogo effect. (It is the short chop which she doesn’t like.) Late in the day the rain pelted down, Susie climbed inside and set up the pram hood, then I took over while she hit the bunk. It was very satisfying sitting in the relative warmth and dryness of the saloon looking out under the pram hood at the rainy turbulent seas and not a drop coming in. I can see why Blonde Hassler considers the pram hood a necessity for his numerous Atlantic crossings. When we were within 10 miles of the coast the seas flattened out noticeably, even Susie perked up, and sat out in the cockpit saying how much nicer it was. The waves were a mere 1m, winds abating, Ashiki still doing 3-3.5 knots to windward. 

I know Susie never wants to do a sail like this again, but Ashiki proves she can take us anywhere, with minimal input from her crew. I never ventured on deck, it was the perfect sail. Down below there was a lot of slamming going on, the hull was being hammered by the seas but Ashiki continued on with a bone in her mouth (bone - it’s the white water seen under the bows when a boat is sailing well). It was never scary, the hull didn’t sound like it was going to break, no creaks or groans, she sounded solid.

The wind was gradually heading us all day, that is to say it clocked around to be on the nose, from NE to E then ESE forcing Ashiki (she changes course herself, still nothing to do) to sail E to SE then South, and our destination had to change from Steamboat Island in the East, to Sholl Island more SE and finally a more southern Long Is in the Mary Anne Group.

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