Day 5

Yesterday evening was spent gradually reducing sail in preparation for the blow and we finally selected our “night rig” as a trysail and No 3. Progress was at first slow, but comfortable and we slept well. In my second watch I dreamt that I was attempting to steer Festina at breakneck speed down Hamble high street. Somehow I managed to negotiate the first chicane and scrape past the Victory and the King and Queen, but it was all just about to go horribly wrong at the Bugle when Lynda shook me awake. “The wind vane’s not coping any more!”

By now the wind was hitting 30 knots and unnacountably we were sailing straight into a very square swell. The rig produced a slight lee helm, and if the windvane’s correction coincided with a big wave we stopped dead with sails slatting, pivoted to lee, lay over and set off again. Plainly this combination of conditions required more brain power than the windvane possessed, and Lynda and I were not about to start helming in those wet conditions, so I partially hove to and left it to the autopilot. It coped better, but the real problem was that we needed to balance the boat by changing down to the storm jib.

As luck would have it the first inkling of dawn was creeping out of the East, so I could see what I was doing, and Lynda could see enough of me to co-ordinate her actions. The foredeck was pretty wet, and as I sloshed back and forth I had a brainwave: I invented a device which I shall call a roller furler. I dont suppose it will catch on!

The wind was now in the early 30’s but under this new rig we made slow but stately progress to windward with sufficient balance for the windvane to be called back into action. Now, 8 hours later the wind is mostly down to 25 and has veered a bit, the seas have followed suit and all is well, albeit pretty rolly. We have lost our Swedes in the night, but have been joined by a Bowman 40 so it’s quite sociable on the airwaves.

We dont go outside if we can help it (too wet) but sail the boat from inside the “bubble”, and luckily the sun is in hiding, so its not too hot. The barometer is climing rapidly (4mm in last 6 hours) which shows how close packed are the isobars, as well as promising nicer conditions to come. I suspect the next issue will be a falling wind and big leftover sea – but we wil deal with that when it arrives.

So, noon once more finds the Festinas in good spirits and bouncing up and down in the vicinity of 25.51N 64.30W . Greetings to all. All well.

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