162-mile day

Date:June 14, 2016, 4 a.m.
Position:14 28.00 S, 156 7.00 E

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Squallday. All day long we were dogged by squalls. There wasn’t much more than about 30 knots in them, but it was enough that we had to roll in the Yankee each time one passed through. The roller-furler got a good workout today! I would have just kept it rolled in between squalls, but our speed has been so good through the night last night that I could see we were about to break 160 miles from noon-to-noon on the GPS–great speeds for a small cruising boat. We surfed down wave after wave, catching 4 & 5 waves in a row. WHoosh!! We accelerate of the wave faces at 12 knots. Privateer has an exceptional surfing hull–her heavy displacement assures that she never gets going too fast and out of control. Finally at noon we did the calculation: 162 miles in 24 hours, for an average speed of 6.75 knots. Not bad for a downwind run, the slowest point of sail! If we’d had the winds at 120 degrees I’m sure we would have shattered the record on Privateer. Also right at noon, we passed the 1/2 way mark across the Coral Sea.

Aside from the squalls it was fine sailing until about 3 pm, and then the winds and seas picked up to a sustained 30 knots. Again, since we are running downwind, it’s no sweat. But we still had to reef down & hold on for the ride, and keep all the hatches buttoned up tight. Taz likes to see how long he can stand up for without holding on to anything on the boat. When he does fall he squeals with laughter and immediately gets back up again. We tried coloring with the crayons again today but he had “the demon” look in his eye and stuffed all the crayons into the bilge. When he sleeps in these conditions, he kicks one leg out at 90 degrees to keep from rolling around in his bunk. He’s a natural!

I found today that if we run just a scrap of Yankee sail out on the pole to windward (15-20 square feet) it really helps in keeping the bow pointing downwind, balances out the rig, and eases the load on the Monitor vane. It also lets us keep course but present the boat at more of a 140 degree wind angle which just keeps the staysail out of the wind-shadow of the main. So I’m dubbing this peculiar sail plan of double-reef main, storm trysail, and Yankee scrap our “Coral Sea rig”.

There’s a very strong area of high pressure building over Australia right now. We’re on the upper edge of the high. The higher the pressure at the center of the high, the more wind we’ll see at the edge. Generally, one knot per millibar. This high is about 1040 millibars, so somewhere south of us in the Tasman Sea is probably getting about 40 knots. We’re far enough north that we’re just feeling the peripheral effects of the so-called “squash-zone” and using the wind pattern to our fullest advantage.

We are fully into passage mode now. 1,500 miles is a nice length passage. It’s long enough to fully transition to the sea, but not too long. We’re hoping our SE winds blow for a few more days for the downhill remainder of the passage. So far so good!

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