Day 4, Drake Passage Northbound

1500Z 22FEB22, Day 4, Drake Passage Northbound. Well, that was a tough one! Thankfully we have had a chance to breathe and the weather has improved since about 5am and we are currently having a nice sail in calm gray seas.

Current Position: 52 35S / 057 47W
24 hour progress: 148nm, 6.2kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 614nm, approximately 60nm to Stanley!

We have continued to sail hard. It has taken a toll on all of us. We try to keep this log light while remaining truthful. Day 4, was just one of those days where we feel beat down. Probably, after a good night's sleep and a good meal, we will feel ready to tackle everything, but right now it all seems daunting.

We continued sailing as close hauled as we could. We pushed hard and the winds were strong. Eventually we admitted the winds were still going to continue to build so we better put in the 4th reef. Jon had been watching water roll across the deck for hours so he was not looking forward to doing this. He reluctantly agreed and did hero's work! He got fully drenched multiple times by multiple waves (Megan felt like he needed AWOL Nation's "Sail" blasting over speakers. He would have fit right into the Volvo race videos with the song.) He put in the 4th reef and retrieved all our wayward reefing lines that had washed overboard in the continuous wave pummeling.

That setup seemed to work out ok, close hauled(ish) with 4 reefs in the main and 2 in the genoa. Eventually the wind angle improved and we could fall off to a close reach. This increased our speed which increased the pounding and the misery. We got into the "just get it over with" mindset (similar to last year's northbound Drake passage) so we didn't rush to reef the genoa further. Basically, at this point, we knew that seeing speeds over 6kts gave us a chance at a sunset arrival. Speeds under 6kts was time that either needed to be made up (tough to do) or that cost us daylight. So on we pounded and bashed.

A couple of hours after sunset and right after a watch turnover with the wind still blowing (40kts +/- 5kts), Nike stopped being able to hold course and things were wrong. We immediately thought we had lost Nike and both had visions of hand steering through the whole night…well, that would be a whole new level of suck! We were both out on deck. A check of the rudder and a deck light showed we had blown our jib sheet and the genoa was flapping around wildly in the wind. (The line that holds our forward sail to either side, split in two.) We furled in the genoa, walked the port sheet to the starboard side and Jon removed the remaining part of the original starboard sheet. As the sail was flogging itself for a period, we definitely knew we had some damage that will need to be addressed. However, we did roll out the genoa again and were back to sailing - this time with 3 reefs in. Daylight inspection appears that the sunbrella protective fabric and maybe the leech line envelope are all damaged and flapping around. We also had the furling foil separate (again!) and that caused a rip across the head of the sail. Hopefully some sewing machine time and insignia cloth will have us patched up without too much drama.

We were overly optimistic about the wind forecast. The wind that was supposed to come down took a lot longer to come back down. And it was quite strong, closer to that worst case outlier. The seas were big and in a sort of "it all happens at once" type situation - we had the worst winds while crossing a shelf where the sea bed was only 100 or so meters deep rather than thousands. This always increases wave size and reduces the time between waves. It was definitely challenging and exhausting sailing in big seas.

It seems we had mentally prepared for about 12 hours of suck and were handed more like 20. Sleep deprived and having sailed really hard for 3 days before that… well, as we said, it was taking a toll.

Ronan had also been really sea sick and we had barely seen him in the rough weather which worries both parents. (He's laughing and seems good this morning now that everything is more settled - he'll be really hungry soon.) Daxton had been out and chatting, helping to cook and helping to care for Ronan - ensuring he's drinking water and encouraging him to eat. Ronan did say to Daxton last night that he wanted cheeseburgers in the Falklands so we all knew he was most probably fine even in the rough stuff.

We are all looking forward to landfall! It's looking like landfall will be around sunset - the question is if we can squeeze out enough to get in before or if it will be a few hours after. We continue to push to see what we can get.

It will take some time to get the boat cleaned and put back together as there is a lot of water, both bathroom drain pumps keep running; there is condensation everywhere; the chain locker took on a bit of water from all the bashing and water over the deck so our bilges are dirty and need to be drained and wiped out; everything needs to be restowed after the bashing; the water maker needs resetting (which had been true the whole passage but nobody wanted to do it in the conditions—Megan tried a couple of times this morning but it didn't fix it); Nike still needs a more permanent fix; the new dagger board spacers waiting in the Falklands need to be shaped and installed; there is sail and canvas work; and then we need to do laundry, provision and fuel up for the next passage. The list is feeling very incomplete and long…

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