Overnight a low pressure system caught up to us and the wind really picked up. The winds built and then built some more. It took about an hour or so to get everything settled and under control. Ronan was on watch and was a huge help re-engaging Nike (our nke autopilot) which kept kicking off as it tried to steer past the rudder stops given the wind and waves. Meanwhile, Jon reefed down the main to our fourth reef and Megan brought in all but a handkerchief worth of headsail. The winds were high with significant gusts, but we reefed down and Zephyros was safely in control taking good care of us.
As the night turned into day things very slowly calmed back down to the 15-20kt range and we let out more sail continuing to comfortably sail a broad reach close to our desired track. Then about 2 hours ago the winds dropped a bit before doing a 180 degree shift! The winds then picked back up to 15-20kts with heavy rain. Another 30-60 minutes of sorting things out ensued. Again the boys were a huge help monitoring Nike so that we could sort out lines and a mess of our own making with the genoa. We went from sailing a port tack, broad reach making 120T COG to sailing a starboard tack, close hauled making 110T COG.
Current Position: 29 29S 105 06W
24 hour progress: 151nm, 6.3kts avg SOG Overall progress for the passage is 279nm with approximately 1690nm to the entrance canal to get to Puerto Montt. The gray, rainy weather continues. We are currently close hauled, with two reefs in the main and 2.5 in the genoa. Winds are 15-20kts true and the seas are decently big.
As we expected the weather has already proven to be challenging. The low that caught us developed between the two highs that we were watching. Then they squashed a system together giving us that 180 deg wind shift which was also predicted in a couple of our weather models. The port of Hanga Roa (that we just left) closed yesterday and there is a weather warning for Easter Island. So even with the challenges, it was the right decision to depart and it is still safer out here with room to run off and shorten sails. Sitting at anchor without protection with big winds and big seas would be worse and considerably more dangerous.
The crew is well and is doing their best to relax and sleep between the chaotic bits. The boys continue to be passage rock stars and are entertaining themselves, mostly without devices though there has been extra TV today. A tiny bit of school work continues daily (even today). The LEGO and pretend play also continues.
We haven't had a water refill since La Libertad and have been on severe water restrictions with only 640L on board. I (Megan) refused to pay nearly $2/gallon in Easter Island and said we would continue with our severe rations despite Jon's valiant efforts to source water and transport of it. Since there had been drizzle all day, Jon had gotten our water catch system set up for our earlier downwind sail configuration. After fighting the conditions, working hard and getting soaked in the wind shift and getting set up on the new configuration, he didn't find my suggestion (mind you, I had changed into dry clothes and put on my dry foulies and he is in completely soaked foulies) to go out in the middle of the next downpour and switch everything around so I could have a long, hot shower (and wash my knotted, dry, angry hair) all that funny. But as the rain continued to pour down he could no longer pass up the precious FREE! water and his providing instincts took over. He has now set us up to top up our starboard tank. Perhaps there will be showers in our near future!?!
No fishing in these conditions. And another wind lull and shift is upon us. It could be the rain cells (no lightning in these just heavy rain) or could be the front edge. Hopefully it will move past, settle out and we will be able to set a point of sail in the next few hours. Off to deal with that and rest when we can...