On Monday February 21, Australian sailor Lisa Blair set sail from Albany, WA in a second attempt to sail solo, non-stop, around Antarctica in record time aboard her yacht ‘Climate Action Now’.
Blair is still trying to raise money to cover project costs. To sponsor Blair, see: https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/sponsors
You can also support by shopping with Lisa.
In her latest blog post, tricky conditions mean that Blair will not cross the finish line until early Wednesday morning.
Blog day 91
Latitude 37 16.24S
Longitude 115 07.19E
Air temp 15 c
Local time 0047 UTC+8
For the live tracker, see: https://lisablairsailstheworld.com/tracker
I was so very excited about the possibility of finishing the record tomorrow afternoon however the weather conditions last night and tonight have blasted that idea right out of the water. Last night there was an occluded front and then a cold front, so the conditions were a complete bag of mixed winds and wind directions keeping me on my toes all night.
After finishing the blog, I went on deck to take a look at things, and we were drifting in 10 knots of wind. The weather was due to ease after the cold front passed and I was expecting the winds to drop to 10 knots but not until mid-morning.
However, as I watched the conditions and Climate Action Now wallowing in the five metre swell with one reef in the mainsail and the no 2 jib partially furled I decided that my light winds must have come early. I figured if I shook out the sails now then I wouldn’t need to get out of bed in a few hours and do it then.
After monitoring for a while longer and taking in the now mostly clear night sky filled with millions of stars and only the occasional cloud, being conscious of the idea that I needed to maintain a seven-knot speed average to reach Albany for Tuesday afternoon, I made the call to increase the sail area and try for some speed. I had been suffering hard all night with the winds being so brutally inconsistent.
I was just finishing up hoisting the sail and unfurling the jib when the radar alarm tripped, and I could see a small collection of cloud coming with rain below it. If there is enough rain in the clouds the radar can bounce a signal off, allowing you to see and sometimes dodge the squalls. This squall was on its way for a direct hit, and I was only making five knots of boat speed in the light winds so there was nothing that I could do to get out of its way.
I was hoping that it would be short lived and then expected that the winds would drop back to 10 knots on the back end of the mini storm and so far the winds have only been coming in at 25 knots in the latest squalls so I was working on that theory as I climbed below to avoid more rain.
I went to sit by the galley on my little fold down bench seat and read my book while it passed before continuing to get ready for bed. As I sat there, I could feel the winds arrive. We suddenly went from 10 knots of wind to 25 knots then as I watched the B & G display the winds continued past that and above 30 knots before creeping to 35 knots.
Crap… I had full sail and the whole of the no 2 jib out now and I was back sailing in 35 knots and so grossly overpowered that we weren’t sailing anywhere. We were pinned right over on our side and all the sails were flapping and flogging in the winds. I still held out, I had only increased the sail area 10 minutes earlier and the last thing I wanted to do was to have to shorten it again and then lose the winds 10 minutes later.
So, I held out and Climate Action Now drifted sideways at two knots and everything flogged and flapped. We were healing over so far that the water in the bilges that was separated by the little compartments was creating a little waterfall across the floor of the boat as it escaped each little section and fell down into the next one. It wasn’t a lot, maybe a bucket full but it showed that we were pinned more than 60 degrees over by the winds.
I watched those digital numbers the display just waiting for it to drop while I chewed my lip and hoped that I didn’t break a sail for being a little reckless. A few minutes later and the rain hit which was a relief because this would normally suck the winds out, but this little squall was a lot more violent than its friends and the winds held at 35 knots. After the rain stopped five minutes later, we were still getting winds at 30 knots and still drifting sideways.
I debated about putting the reef back in, but I just knew that as soon as I did the winds would stop. Instead, I went back on deck and furled half of the no 2 jib away again as this was the sail I was most worried about, and it would be a lot easier to un-furl when the winds eased. We were pinned over for more than 30 minutes before the winds finally eased enough for us to start sailing again.
I really should have put that first reef back in the mainsail because the winds remained at 20 knots for the remainder of the morning, and we were borderline overpowered sailing into it close hauled with all the sails tight. Climate Action Now and my least favourite point of sail.
It was well past time for me to get some sleep. I only managed a few hours of broken sleep before I woke up and continued trimming the sails, the winds had finally eased but then they dropped out to less than five knots of winds at sunset, and we started drifting.
Until this point, I had still been holding out hope that I might be able to make it to land for Tuesday but with all these delays it simply wasn’t going to happen, so I still have another night left at sea. It is a bit of a blessing too because it will mean a daylight arrival into Albany unlike last time so I will be looking forward to that.
The winds have spun around and finally filled in from the SW for the moment but are only blowing at 10 knots so it is still slow going but they are expected to fill in and give me some nice following winds to the finish line over the course of tomorrow and as tomorrow night I will likely be up all night as I approach land and clear shipping zones I am going to try for some sleep.
Also, I anticipate that I will be arriving at the entrance of King George Sound around 7-8 am on Wednesday morning and docking about 1 hr to 1.5 hours later. I plan on live streaming the arrival from the boat as soon as I get within cell phone range so be sure to keep an eye on my Facebook page @lisablairsailstheworld to join in on the fun even if you are not in Albany.
Before I go however I wanted to take a moment to do a shout out to Great Circle Marine – Great Circle have supported me with all the safety equipment from my custom fitted Ocean Master four person Life Raft to EPIRBs, Flares, life jackets and a heavy duty survival suit. They first became a sponsor of mine way back in 2014 when I completed my very first solo sail from Australia to New Zealand and have supported every project since.
So, I just wanted to do a shout out to them for their amazing support and to let you all know that they are based in Brisbane, ship all over Australia. They also have a great life raft rental system if you need one occasionally for the odd trip or yacht race. I highly recommend looking at their services.
I would also like to do a huge shout out to tonight’s degree sponsors and to say thank you to all of you who have been supporting me with last minute degrees. It is a huge help as I still have over $50 000 in bills from this project, so every degree makes a marked impact on that and frees me up to do more free schools talks once I am on land so thank you for your support and encouragement in joining me to become a part of history.
Thank you to:
107 East – Colette’s Curtains and Blinds Albany WA – Thank you to Colette Knowlden for your amazing support. Colette’s has shared the message;
“So proud of Lisa and her outstanding accomplishments, as Albany residents we have been following her progress with bated breath and so looking forward to her arrival this week. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.”
Colette I can honestly say that the pleasure is all mine and I look forward to meeting you in a few days time.
113 East – Tailwind Nutrition – Huge thanks to Gavin and Rebekah Markey for your wonderful support.
114 East – Great Southern Wills – Thanks to Bernadette and Paul Terry for your amazing support and I look forward to seeing you in Albany.
115 East – d’Albora Marinas – Victoria Harbour, Docklands Vic – As always thank you to d’Alboara Marinas for your ongoing support. I really appreciate it.
Goodnight all and see some of you very soon.
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