Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 6 - Testing the Rigging and our Patience

Shortly after the morning radio net, we decided that the only way to go to NZ with a light following breeze would be to hoist the spinnaker. We always do this with some trepidation, which has only been increased by our recent forestay breakage. Still, the alternative would be more motoring.

The swells were large and confused - a big 2.5 to 3 meter swell from the gale force winds to the NE of us and additional north and northwest lumps mixed in. This combined with winds of from 2 to 4 knots made setting and flying the spinnaker tricky. When Ladybug was thrown on her side by the swell on her beam, the wind created by this motion would either cancel or accelerate the real wind, causing the sail to collapse or snap open with a bang. This put huge loads on the mast head, furler foil base (where the spinnaker tack is lead through a plastic glove that fits over the furled jib), and the spinnaker sheet. As the wind filled in, this jerky violent motion relaxed and we were able to make about 17 miles over a few hours sailing almost as fast as the wind. The loads we put on our rig during this time give me more confidence that we did a good job with our repairs and that the upper mast section is strong!

As the wind increased, we decided to drop the chute and continue under full main and jib, which we were able to do until 9:30 pm when the wind was so light that we were unable to keep the sailed filled. The big swells were still with us and in order to save damage to the sails and running rigging, we downed sail and motored through the night. Just before sunrise the wind filled in again, this time from the west. We hoisted the main and jib and are running downwind on starboard tack for a change. This was not a forecasted wind direction and perhaps it tells us that we are now sitting above the low trough that we know is currently giving northern New Zealand a pasting.

Our position at 0700 NZ time, 1800 GMT was 32 22 S and 172 40 E with a total 107 NM run in 24 hours, 96 NM made good.

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