When you combine winds of 20 to 30 knots, big lumpy seas and a course dead to windward, it makes for an ugly evening in the frigid North Atlantic. After tucking in the third reef, I thought I could hunker down in the cabin and monitor the situation from the nav table, but no such luck.
While adjusting the autopilot from below, I hit the wrong button and the boat rounded-up into the wind and backed the jib on the other tack. The boat was effectively hove to, so I had to put on the windward runner, release the leeward runner, let the jib through and complete the accidental tack, as solid water was rolling over the deck and through the cockpit. It was very hard just to stand due to the sea conditions. Once the boat was going again, I tacked back and sorted out the spaghetti mess of lines梟ot what I needed at 0200.
As the wind rose in velocity, I became concerned again with the flutter along the leach of the staysail, which was making a pretty good racket. I decide to replace the staysail with our new storm jib, a sail which is cut bigger than usual for just these conditions...I thought. With three reefs in the main and the storm jib at 25 to 30 knots, the boat did not have near enough power and jogged along at 3 to 4 knots. If I was cruising that would be fine, but as I am racing. I dropped the storm jib, lashed it to the foredeck and rolled the staysail back out. I know it sounds easy, but when the waves are catapulting you off the deck you need two hands to hold on, which leaves no hands for the work. Everything takes longer!
So, I got cold, wet and exhausted when I really needed to conserve my strength for the challenges of navigating through the center of the approaching low pressure system. It will be a key turning point in the race. Stay tuned...