Live To Fight Another Day

Friday 16th November
After a peaceful night at Quindalup, dropped the mooring at 0540 and made my way out towards Cape Naturaliste.  Nice little 7 knot South Easter made this first leg enjoyable and quite quick, especially when it picked up to 12 knots 15 minutes later.
As Freespirit slipped along I was thinking to myself this is all going very well, far too well as it turned out later.
By 0900 with Cape Naturaliste well and truly astern and Freespirit sailing smoothly the wind begun to swing toward the South and increase in strength. This made it more difficult to hold our course of 220 deg Magnetic, but it also increased the swell and chop levels by a significant factor too.

An hour later we were sailing in 15 to 20 knots of wind and much larger swell and chop. Freespirit was plunging into the increasing swells and squirming in the cross chop. Virtually sailing on Genoa alone now as with the mainsail pulled in she would heel over too far and lose speed.

Time to shorten sail. I reefed the main down to the second reef point, reducing it to the size of a small dinghy mainsail whilst the Genoa I rolled in about half.
This de-powering worked but the wind just kept increasing, this time to 20 – 25 knots and the swell was now becoming uncomfortable. White caps everywhere, lots of spray coming back to the cockpit as the bows plunged into the next wave. Funny, I thought of Greg and how very uncomfortable he would have been at that point. I then looked up just as all the solar protection panelling on the Genoa began to shred.

It looked like badly made flags hanging off the edges of the sail flapping away looking both sad and dangerous. With the swell and chop getting worse, the wind showing no sign of backing off and now a sail badly damaged I made a decision to turn around and return to Quindalup. Here I will replace and repair the sail and make ready for another attempt as soon as the strong wind abates.

This graph tells the story. By 12 noon the wind recorded at Cape Naturaliste was 20 knots, gusting to 25 Click on it to see it full size.
Here I sit on the mooring now with the wind howling overhead and pushing Freespirit this way and that, happy to be here rather than far out to sea being battered by large swells and strong wind.

I’ll take some time out now and make Freespirit and myself ready again.

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4 Responses to Live To Fight Another Day

  1. Robert says:

    Takes a wise and prudent man to turn around, on ya Col

  2. freespirit52 says:

    Thanks Robert, I still believe it was the right choice, but doubts do creep in. Cheers.

  3. Best it happened here than in something of a decent blow mate.
    You know even tho it’s been 30 years since I moved ashore I quite often play with ‘what would I use to sail the Tasman Sea’ and having been thoroughly thrashed in the southern ocean I am convinced a good Yankee is the ideal headsail for winds over 15 knots, especially if shorthanded. That and a very reliable self steering unit.
    Ok, so I’m old school 🙂
    Great to follow you on your adventure mate, reminds me of chasing each other through the twisties 😉
    Take care mate.

    • freespirit52 says:

      We are thinking alike here mate, yesterday I swapped the Genny for an unused second hand storm jib, (came from a 40′ Benny). I then put up my new inner forestay and hanked on the new storm jib I had made before leaving. This effectively gives me a cutter rig with two headsails. Although the jib I bought second hand isn’t as big as a Yankee, it is high-cut and slightly bigger than my new one. Thinking here is to use these as my working set and when it starts to blow I roll up the (Yankee). The old Genoa is still sound though not as strong as I’d like so will leave it in the bag until reaching more forgiving locales. I know I’m gonna get hammered when I leave here so having smaller sail sizes that I can reduce quickly makes sense. I might lose a little speed when the wind is light but at least I’ll be ready for when it pounds me. The main is in great shape and is not quite the drama to reef that a slotted headsail would be with green ones coming over the bow.
      I’d be up the creek without Ray (my Auto Pilot, Ray Marine) to steer when I really need it. Anything downwind with a lot of yawing and rolling going on tends to defeat him though.
      Some of my favourite moments were chasing each other through the hills mate… good times.

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