Australian sailor Lisa Blair set sail from Albany, WA on Monday February 21, in a second attempt to sail solo, non-stop, around Antarctica in record time aboard her yacht ‘Climate Action Now’.
In her latest blog post on Day 25, Blair has to reef in rain and cold increasing winds and then undertake repairs before eating and resting.
Latitude 52 59.20S
Longitude 156 58.82W
Air Temp 6.5C
Local time 0130am
It seems as much as I try for an early night it is just not on the cards. In the end, last night the winds built to 40 knots in a few squalls. I had been sailing with just the storm jib and the No 2 reef in the mainsail for most of the night and we were handling the conditions well.
Winds were averaging at 25-30 knots and Climate Action Now was speeding along on the 4–5-metre swell, but as the winds started to clock to 35 knots in speed and then gusting to 40 knots, I started to get really worried about blowing out the mainsail by overpowering it. I really did have too much sail up.
So I ummed and ahhed for a minute before finally deciding that playing it safe is always the better option so I got kitted up in my Musto MPX Salopettes and went on deck to put the third reef in the main sail.
It was freezing and raining. That only seemed to add to the cold. My hands were on fire within a few minutes. I am normally only on deck for a small amount of time to do a sail change, so I tend to opt out of wearing gloves.
Most of them take too long to get on, and the ones that don’t, I find are too bulky to handle ropes and clutches easily. I normally don’t have the time to worry about it. But last night my hands were feeling like the bone was freezing from the inside out and throbbing so painfully that I needed to stop halfway through just to get them out of the wind.
It is always that combination of getting wet from a wave and then adding the 40 knots of wind on top. The wind chill factor is extreme.
But I still needed to shorten my sail. Aboard Climate Action Now everything is done manually; there is no electric winches or furling main sails. I have the slab reefing system (where you lower slabs of the sail down and tie them off) for the main sail and I have a separate outboard reefing line and a luff reefing line so that I don’t need to travel to the mast to reef.
I can only put a reef in with the boat going upwind, so I get everything prepped and then alter the heading by 60 degrees to get the mainsail luffing while sailing off the jib.
I lower the main halyard (the rope that pulls and lowers the sail) and then pull in on the reefing lines to secure it in its new position before re-hoisting again. It generally takes me about 5 to 10 minutes to put in a reef compared to the 20-30 minutes it takes to shake it out.
While it might be getting late, I still had some maintenance to get done. Almost on day one of the trip my fuel transfer pump decided that it didn’t want to work, so I have been using the emergency fuel rations that are stored in jerry cans in the lazarette locker, until I could plump in a manual pump to allow me to transfer the bio diesel (thanks to Bio Diesel Industries Australia and Refuelling Solutions) from my main holding tanks to the day tank.
In this last refit at Rivergate Marina, to allow me to carry more fuel, I ended up converting the middle water ballast tanks – a tank designed to be filled with salt water when racing to act as if I have crew on the railing.
Wright Marine and I converted them into one water tank and two separate fuel tanks each side. This allows me to carry a total of 800 litres of bio diesel on this trip. I have now used up most of the jerry cans to charge the batteries up because with all the light winds the wind generators and solar weren’t putting out enough. It was now time that I dealt with this problem.
I have been quietly puzzling over the fix for some time. I knew all the parts that I needed and how to put it together, it was just a matter of wriggling under the navigation station and getting the job done.
I didn’t have any hose reducers that would convert the half inch hose to three quarter inch to fit on the manual, so I stole a little hosing from my portable bilge pump and sleeved the smaller fuel hose inside of the larger hose that would fit on the manual pump. Not ideal, and not a long-term fix, but it will get me access to the fuel in the tanks for this project and I can worry about the rest later.
I finally got finished installing this at 11pm and I was now really hungry. Because I have been so fatigued with sleep deprivation I have started to notice some muscle fatigue as well, so I made sure to choose either a protein packed dinner or a bare burrito which just so happens to be one of my favourites.
It is just going on 2am here so I am going to sign off and actually try for some of that sleep I keep talking about, but before I go, I would like to thank the following amazing company for their support as degree sponsor: 158 West – d’Albora Marinas, Port of Airlie, Airlie Beach Queensland – another fantastic location to visit. Thank you d’Albora Marinas for your ongoing support.
I would also like to make a special birthday shout out. Happy birthday to Arnold Hansen in New Zealand who turned 90 yesterday. What an amazing effort and I hope you have many more birthdays to come.
Have a great day and goodnight,
How to follow Lisa Blair’s voyage:
Track Lisa Blair’s position on her website: https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/
To sponsor Lisa Blair, see: https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/sponsors
Lisa Blair’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LisaBlairSailstheWorld
To purchase Lisa Blair’s book ‘Facing Fear’, see: https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/eco-shop