If you have not already, read part one of this report here.
Thursday, November 10
I awoke at 2:30am to a squall. Came on deck and helped reef the main and swap the genoa for the staysail. By the time we had things under control, winds were 20-22, but they had clearly peaked well above that (one boat near us would report 55 knot winds, though I do not think we saw more than 35). This turned out to be the beginnings of the weather associated with the low, and the winds continued to build through the night.
Throughout the day, winds were northwest 22-28 gusting to 30+ with a four hour period of sustained 32-35 knots with gusts to 38. Seas were very confused with the residual north swell and a 10-13 foot dominant swell from the northwest (this is the swell size that has been debated; the consensus is that it was 20 feet, but some people say it was in excess of 30…I thought it was only the 10-13 at the time, but I seem to be in a minority of one amongst the entire fleet).
While reefing the main, the car on the track on the boom exploded (it was not apparent at the time, but the block on the car broke off) and the car jumped out of the track. We secured the car and furled the main, continuing under staysail alone. We continued to make 5-6 knots with the wind just off our starboard aft quarter, but the waves a little farther forward, making for some interesting surfing and rounding up. Had the waves been maybe 5 feet larger, we would have had to take them stern on to avoid being rolled.
Friday, November 11
Wind moderated to 18 knots.
Unfurled the genoa first thing in the morning and ran under staysail and genoa on the same side, making a steady 6 knots. A bit later in the morning, the captain and I went on deck and reattached the main car to the track, enabling us to – carefully – use the main throughout the rest of the trip.
For those keeping track, we had now had engine issues, broke the fresh water system, jammed the genoa furler (later fixed), got our radar reflector hopelessly tangled, had water in the bilge, broke the main car, and lost our electronics and autopilot for half a day. More breakage was still to come.
Conditions continued to moderate throughout the day, sailing under main and genoa. By evening, winds were 2-10 knots anywhere from 200 degrees to due north.
Saturday, November 12
Quite calm in the morning, going under what we could get from the engine alone. Winds eventually increased to 3-6 knots from the north and we rolled out the genoa to accompany the engine. Made, on average, about 4.2 knots throughout the day. Late in the evening, the wind shifted south, and we furled the genoa.
Sunday, November 13
Still calm in the morning. About 9am we began to catch the northwest trades at 5 knots, building to 13 by the afternoon.
On my night watch, we were cruising at 170 degrees at 6.5 knots before the wind built to 18, pushing out speed to 7.5 knots. Fine sailing.
Monday, November 14
Winds 15-18 in the morning.
With squalls on the horizon, we reefed the main and swapped the genoa for the staysail. Made about 5.2 under this configuration while we got hit by occasional rain squalls with wind increasing to 20-22. After the squalls passed, we had 15 knots of wind and made 6.5 knots under full main and genoa.
At some point in the day, the main track broke free, sliding along the boom. While we could still use the main, it made reefing and unreefing the main even more difficult. Also that day, the rigid vang broke off the mast. Fortunately, it did not swing around wildly like one would think it might, and the captain was able to secure it sometime later.
Winds dropped to 8-10 in the evening, but we were still making in the low 5s, allowing us to dream of making happy hour in Tortola the following evening.
Tuesday, November 15
Winds dropped off to nothing in the early am. We continued under engine alone at 2.5 knots.
Throughout the morning hours, the winds were fickle, coming from all points of the compass at anything from 2 to 8 knots and up to 15 in some of the squalls that were about. Finally, at about 11am, with another sailboat a half mile off our bow, the western trades returned, building quickly from 6 to 14 knots. This wind continued throughout the day and night at anywhere from 8-15, but rather consistently at 10-12. We made 5-7 knots counting down the miles to Tortola.
Wednesday, November 16
Awoke at 4am to help reef the sails in anticipation of a squall. At that point we were less than 15 miles from the “finish” off the eastern end of Tortola. I came on deck at 6am with the sun just coming out revealing the islands less than one mile from the finish. After recording our finishing time, we motor-sailed around Tortola, east through the Drake Passage, and into Nanny Cay. With our engine refusing to reverse, I jumped from the boat to the floating dock and, along with someone from the ARC staff, got two lines on cleats to arrest our forward momentum before we slammed into the dock. We did scuff the bow, but avoided further damage.
Rum drinks curtesy of the ARC were handed around. And Janette, the captain’s wife, secured us a second (really fourth for me, since I was also drinking hers) round when the next boat came in about 15 minutes behind us.