With sail reefs in place and everything removed from deck that was not absolutely necessary we prepared for the coming blow.
By studying the weather chart carefully I reasoned that we could steer out of the high impact zone of 30+Kn winds into a peripheral region where 20+Kn winds would prevail. At this time also Wendy and I discussed our options and agreed to change our destination from Portland to Port Lincoln.
This meant a sailing distance shortening of over 200 Nm and an escape if the weather conditions worsened beyond what was already forecast. With this in mind we sat back and waited in the evening light for the first of our expected Westerly winds before steering the new North Easterly course toward Port Lincoln.
It took quite a long time for the winds to arrive but when they did Freespirit picked up her skirts and boogied with the wind on her port quarter. Wendy has a lot of experience in sailing boats of all sizes and descriptions and so it was with pride I heard her describe Freespirit as a great sailing boat, a real gem…. especially when the wind got up enough to drive her up to hull speed. Very easy on the helm she responded to the lightest touch with enthusiasm.
A very proud moment indeed.
For the next two days we screamed along making great mileage though it was a little rough below decks to get restful sleep and prepare food. Fortunately whilst still at Albany I’d made lots of frozen meal packs that simplified the preparation of hearty nutritious meals when they are most wanted, rough and wet conditions.
Wendy did the lions share of the work here and being the right size to work in the galley meant we never went hungry or thirsty the whole time.
All good things must come to an end eventually and our progress suffered that same fate on the 5th of January as we hit the Southern Ocean’s version of the doldrums.
The large swells coming up from the Low pressure system to the South West of us still came rolling through though the surface of the water was glassy smooth.
As neither Wendy nor I had gotten much sleep the previous two days we took advantage of the smooth conditions now to catch up and do a few little jobs when awake. Ran the motor for 8 hours to push through these windless conditions but had to repeat this again in the afternoon before things began to change.
Finally the winds swung to the East and we began to make further progress towards our destination.
Close hauled we were making good time but were unable to lay our course directly to Pt Lincoln due to the winds gradual advance towards a more Northerly direction. By the time we had roughly achieved enough Southing (on the same parallel as Pt Lincoln) we still had another day and a half sailing to get there. Once again the satphone link to the weather forecast proved valuable as I could now confidently predict when the winds would change back towards the South.
Currently then we were in some very comfortable 10-15 kn South South Westerlies and easy seas. The forecast was for that afternoon to become lively with winds as strong as 25 knots as we made our final approach to the Southern tip of the Eyre Peninsular through outer lying islands that make up the entrance to Pt Lincoln, and they did indeed prove to be very lively in this tricky and dangerous seaway.