Day 5, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 20MAR22, Day 5, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday was a difficult one. Winds were higher than expected; seas were quite large. There was a good bit of rain, and then the skies largely cleared, with a beautiful large rainbow, for some sun in the afternoon and bright moonlight throughout the night.

Current Position: 45 39S / 044 35W
24 hour progress: 146nm, 6.1kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 704nm, approximately 2,632nm to go on the great circle route to St Helena.

When we left you yesterday, Jon was just retiring to the pilot house to motor in dead air as ice marbles fell on deck. By now there was an inch or more of marbles stacked up on our side decks. Since Jon was now inside, it stopped hailing and began raining. A few minutes later someone in the cosmos realized that the breaker for the wind had tripped and kindly closed the breaker instantly delivering 30kts of steady wind. Jon dutifully reset the sails as sheets of ice slid off the solar panels overhead and shot off into the sea. He then turned off the engine—it was only on for 20 minutes total. Everything settled, Megan rose from the bunk with a yawn for watch turnover. The Roaring Forties then coughed a little and began to really roar. As Jon headed outside to put another reef in the main sail, a strong gust and nasty wave knocked us round. Quickly sorted again, we set the 3rd and the 4th reef as the wind kept ramping up. Then we rolled back in the genoa until there was just a handkerchief out. And so we were an hour into the new day; that is we were riding a bucking sled across a lumpy ocean. At least we were going down wind still.

It is an impressive 90 degree turn on the tracker. You would be forgiven for thinking that we changed point of sail or tack. We did not. We were still sailing a broad reach on starboard tack - the wind made a 90 degree turn and ramped up considerably. So we spent the day reefed down, running off, headed north and surfing waves. So much for that thought of relaxedly settling into the passage. We sailed hard and felt a bit beat up.

We did have a lull in wind - just as quickly as the wind had turned on in the morning, about 10 hours later it nearly turned off for a short while. Megan scurried to start making food for the hungry masses. Leftovers were destroyed on mid-rats (midnight rations) - in this case a hungry teenager scouring around for more food. Guess Ronan is feeling better and his stomach was undaunted by the challenges of the day. We are hoping for a quieter day and easier cooking.

We sailed day 5 reefed down to the 4th reef in the main and for about half of the 24 hours with just a small bit of the genoa out. We feel like a small bit of genoa sails better downwind then a bit of our staysail. It holds a better shape for sailing a deep broad reach. The winds and seas did settle eventually but we still had periods when the winds stayed high and now had the bonus of them going really light for awhile (when you slow down it gets very rolly in the left over seas). Overnight, we largely went for the less taxing sailing to the middle of the winds with a still fully reefed main and 2 reefs in the genoa. We will see how much energy we have today to adjust sails based on whatever the wind serves us.

The number of prions seems to be geometrically multiplying. There were lots and lots of them yesterday. They are not as graceful as the petrels and albatrosses that we still occasionally see. The prions are like little fighter jets doing aerial tricks. They seem to be grabbing small fish or squid from the surface, but they don't land or dive into the water. Just quickly touch and go. They are entertaining and definitely undaunted by the roaring forties.

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