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My first South Atlantic/Southern Ocean gale
December 18, 2015

Hello Friends,

I seem to have survived my first South Atlantic/Southern Ocean gale and it was an interesting weather pattern that I expect will repeat itself frequently over the course of the next two months down here in the southern latitudes. So the wind starts in the North or Northwest- and builds up into the twenties- providing some nice downwind surfing conditions as we are headed East-Southeast. I had two reefs in the main, the A5 fractional, hard-luff, heavy weather do...wnwind sail, with the staysail set underneath it. A pretty stable rig. However, above 25 knots of wind, the surfs of 13- 18 knots boat speed got pretty exciting, so I furled the A5 and doused the staysail and went to the solent jib. A good call- much more stable- but I needed to sail a little higher to keep the Solent full and the boat moving steadily above 11 knots.

As the front moved through, the wind was around 30 knots with gusts to 35, and rather quickly went from NorthWest to West- to SouthWest-to South- necessitating a gybe- and then I furled the solent and hoisted the staysail to go hard on the wind in 25- 30 knots of wind and nasty sea conditions. Ugly. Suffice it to say it sucked completely. The motion of the boat and pounding into the seas was so erratic it became important to really focus on simply not getting thrown around and getting hurt. Torrential rains- water everywhere- above and below decks- and cold! Slept fitfully in my FW gear with boots on- listening for any sounds that did not seem right. Sure enough- I heard a flapping and came on deck to find the Solent jib trying to free itself from being furled on the headstay, so I had to run off deep and unfurl and re-furl the sail from the foredeck, which was easier said than done in 30+ knots with the sail flapping like crazy.

So through the crucible and out the other side- winds slowly diminishing last night from mid 20's to mid -teens, then the inevitable "light and variable"- sails slapping- auto pilot alarm going off when all you want to do is sleep- as the storm system exits and the transition begins.

So today is sunny and clear- clean-up day- sponge out the water- hang stuff up to dry- try to catch up on sleep and chores. Another gale forecast for Sunday afternoon through Tuesday. Better get used to it.

Cheers-
Joe



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