Tough miles, Day 9

Date: Nov. 14, 2016, noon Position: 28 28.71 S, 35 2.89 E

After the storm front passed yesterday we sailed along nicely until daybreak, but then a stiff 22-knot Westerly wind kicked in, right on the nose. This, compounded by the urge to make port before the next major storm in a few days, was a very frustrating experience. We had to crack way off to the NW, almost at a right angle to our destination.

Finally, yesterday afternoon the winds went more WSW and lightened up and we fired up the engine to improve our angle of attack toward destination. We still angled off to the NW more than I liked, but were once again making miles and still able to use the wind vane for our autopilot. I slept the rest of the day to recharge after the adrenaline and elation of the storm wore off and exhaustion kicked in.

We had to work very hard and get very wet to make our miles today, again. It was sort of a miniature repeat of yesterday, minus the front. The winds came more “annoying Westerly” again and we were forced once more to fire up the engine to keep our speed up. No lingering around here! Hammer down and get to port ASAP, by any means. We have the Agulhas current to cross and another bigger storm to beat.

In the afternoon the swells built to 5 meters, big giants coming up from the Southern Ocean. They were spaced nicely apart, however, so didn’t pose any threat. The winds filled in from the South at about 22-25 knots and we took off on a beam reach in very lively conditions. It felt more like we were going through the waves–the decks continually awash. I forgot to turn a cowl vent around–big mistake. I was here at the nav station on my computer and Kelsey was playing with Taz in the bunk. When Kelsey saw the portlights (windows) fill with green water, she knew it was going to be interesting. We took a wave wrong and the crest smacked the side of the boat hard and water shot down into the boat through the cowl vent pipe like a large-diameter fire hose. Fortunately the boat was heeled over enough that the main stream landed on the floor, but seawater still sprayed all over the bunks and into the galley.

Finally in the evening the winds shifted more to the south and we eased off onto a fantastic beam reach for about 100 NM. We are now on our final approach to Richard’s Bay. So close!

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