Fair winds

August 30th 2018

Sitting here on the lee berth, feet wedged against the windward, occasionally finding the keyboard jumping under my fingers I tell myself I should not be complaining.

Remember all the complaints about beating into strong headwinds for ten days round the top of Scotland?

Well, logic suggests that if you keep sailing, then one day, you will have those winds up your chuff as they say. Sure enough, over the last five days, we have logged 363 miles, 70, 95, 87 and 111 as the wind has stayed solidly in the western quarter.

Of course, yesterday morning, I did wake up to a flat calm. The sails – still set for a moderate breeze from the North West – slatted back and forth and by breakfast time, we were pointing listlessly back the way we had come.

It stayed like that all morning and I motored for an hour while reading the last pages of John Grisham’s Rooster Bar and managing to steer a not-too-wiggly course at the same time.

(The real reason for motoring is to top up the batteries and make some hot water for a proper strip-wash). The calorifier heats it to 420C which is really hot for washing – but not hot enough to make coffee… anyway, I’m not sure about drinking water out of the calorifier…

After that, something I’ve wanted to do for ages: Take down the windvane and draw the OldManSailing logo on both sides. We’ll be in marinas in the Solent and need people to see the website address.

And sure enough, as it always will, the wind filled in again. By mid afternoon the vane could cope with the steering and by teatime, the chute had us bowling along at five knots.

I’ve had no forecasts and although the digital barometer is broken and showing no figures or graph, I wonder if at heart it is still working because suddenly the gale warning icon appeared – and sure enough by dusk we needed the first reef and the GPS was still showing six and seven knots.

I was rather pleased with this reef because the moon wasn’t up yet, I couldn’t see much and the head torch seemed to have gone AWOL. But it all went OK by feel. The really great thing was that the sea hadn’t had a chance to build and so we were slicing through this essentially flat sea. I spent a long time standing in the hatch watching the long line of phosphorescence stretching out astern.

By midnight the wind was up to 27knots and the boat becoming unmanageable so time for the second reef and a scrap of headsail –still clocking 6+ knots with occasion surfs up to eight – and in the right direction. This is the stuff!

And it’s still going today. The wind has veered a little putting us on an even broader reach. How long can this go on?