Saturday, 25 November 2017

A Bit Wet and Bouncy Onboard

[A further letter home from Liz as the passage progresses]

Date: 23 Nov 2017 13:47:41 -0000


This time last night, Fluenta seemed to be climbing mountains of white, then crashing down in torrents of water on the other side: it was windy and rough and the bioluminescence was extraordinary. Somehow the numbers don't seem to tell the whole story (20-23 kts/2-3 m seas) but we were sailing pretty much close hauled, which made everything more extreme (when we turned downwind this afternoon for Max to do his foredeck inspection, it was sooooo much more comfortable!) Nobody's sea legs appreciated these conditions. [as usual with conditions offshore, it is the sea state rather than the wind that has a greater effect on comfort. In this case the wave height was pretty normal for this part of the world but they were very short period and we were hitting them pretty much head on. With the wave's speed combined with Fluenta's and then the steepness of the wave it resulted in a uncomfortable motion and a lot of water on deck (and, thankfully to a lesser extent, in the cabin). Max]

We had set the staysail just before sunset last night, so the only adjustment to be made in the sails was to reef the main a little more or a little less. There seemed to be a sweet spot at 18-20 kts of true wind (20-25 apparent), but if we got much over 20 we had to reef and if we got under 16 we had to shake it out or we would just wallow in the big waves. The winds were steady and heavy enough last evening that I didn't have to touch the sails (or shake Max) at all during my watch, but this evening, it seemed that I was waking him to change the main hourly. The saving grace is that we have been pretty much on course for most of the day, with wind-hold set (and cooperating) between 50-65 deg (much more comfortable than 45!)

It was bad enough in the cockpit, and it seemed worse downstairs without the benefit of the horizon - Fluenta was rolling and lurching and crashing down as we met the peaks and then the troughs of the waves, making loud creaks and groans as a result. Everyone had trouble falling asleep until we got used to the motion - it is just not natural to be on an amusement ride while lying in your bunk. To be clear, the conditions weren't dangerous, but we sure didn't like them! It is no fun to have your home shaken and stirred, with water coming in all manner of new leaks, for hours on end. A day later, we seem to be through the worst of it, and we now have winds in the mid-teens with a much calmer (ie normal) seastate. Thank goodness!

As usual, Victoria and Johnathan have been maintaining their upstairs/downstairs watches and Victoria has been cheerfully handling daytime duties, giving us time to recover from the night watches. The lovely thing of all of this is that the parent on watch with her gets some pretty nice one-on-one time. Benjamin appears to be totally unaffected by the seastate, and cheerfully gobbles down crackers, peanut butter, and cheese or (his new, on-passage only, favourite) rice crispies and milk, while enthusiastically singing the Christmas songs and nursery rhymes that Victoria has been teaching him; when he was not allowed to come upstairs when I was on watch tonight (with water coming into the cockpit with every wave I didn't think it was the place for him), he happily played video games with Johnathan downstairs (and as a special Mom-on-watch treat, he got to use 'Mom's iPad' which bought me some extra time).

We will celebrate coming out the other side of these conditions tomorrow regardless of the distance to New Zealand, and we will all be glad to see the last of the dark grey skies that hovered over us most of last night and today. They seem to have cleared into a broad expanse of stars tonight :)

I thought you might like to know that it isn't all calm turquoise anchorages and sunny skies with light winds ... still, all in all, we are well and glad to be getting closer with every wave to NZ.

Much love to all,
At 2017-11-06 1:39 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 29°51.12'S 172°57.72'E

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