Lisa Blair: ‘Epic sailing day’

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 currently enjoying strong winds in the Southern Ocean after a slow start. Read the below blog post from Blair, where she reflects on her journey so far.

Hi everyone,

Last night I managed to get so much sleep that I couldn’t sleep anymore so I was up at and at it by 7am and ready to take on the world…or the Southern Ocean as the case may be. 

The winds held at 18-20 knots from the north to north west for the night allowing me to sail with the full mainsail and the small jib the J2. We were able to hold a really high average boat speed of around nine knots and covered some serious miles. Just as I started to get ready to make some hot porridge, I started to see steady 25 knots and then 30 knots and then 32 knots in sustained winds. And I sill had the full mainsail up.

Eeeek, it was a rush to get on deck and shorten the mainsail by putting in reef one.  This is actually the first reef of the trip that I needed to put in since I set one at the start line, so I was quite excited to simply have enough winds to require it after so much light air sailing. 

I was slapped in the face with a morning wake up wave and set about putting in the reef.  This process requires me to be sailing into the wind, so I altered the boat course until the mainsail started to de-power and flap, before easing the halyard (rope that pulls the mainsail up) and pulling in on the reefing lines.  It only took a few minutes to set and once again Climate Action Now was coasting along at rapid speeds across the waves.

Selfie of Lisa Blair changing microplastic samples on board Climate Action Now.
Lisa Blair changing microplastic samples on board Climate Action Now. Pic – Lisa Blair

After a now late breakfast, I got ready to change out the micro plastic samples in the bow of the boat.  The conditions had continued to deteriorate, and we were now getting side swiped by some of the building sea state from the north.  When these waves would hit Climate Action Now would be pushed over onto her side and it would be a struggle to hold on if you were standing. So I knew it was going to be a tricky micro-plastic change today.

I crawled through the watertight bulkhead hatch that separates the main living compartment from the sail locker and very carefully made my way over to the science unit that is on the starboard side and spent another five minutes carefully juggling samples and resetting the sampling unit.  All the samples will be processed by the Australian Institute of Marine Science when I return.

Job done and with the rougher conditions I decided that today was going to be a bit of a movie day to just take a little break and I got sucked into watching Blindspot the TV show.

*Note from Mum – This time she managed not to leave the USB containing movies in someone’s pocket at dockside like she did on her last Antarctic attempt!

By 5 pm I was starting to see the winds up around the 25-35 range and decided after a particularly bad round up that it was time to put in the second reef.  When I got on deck this time it was like night and day in comparison to the conditions from this morning. 

Gone was the slightly blue sky and fairly flat seas and in its place was 30 knots of wind, a swell of three-plus metres from the southwest and a sea state of two metres from the north making for an unpredictable and uncomfortable ride, the skies were now a solid dreary grey and there was a misty hazy rain to cool things down a touch. 

I got to work and set the second reef. When I was finished I decided to capture some of the really fast and fun sailing we were doing because although the sky was grey it was a seriously fun and fast ride that I was on.

I was pretty cold after the time on deck and I now remember how much I didn’t miss the cold. I warmed myself up with a hot packet of freeze-dried peanut and couscous curry and set about writing this blog.

And because last night and today were so fast sailing wise I have several degree sponsors to thank. So thank you to the following business and individuals who helped me get to the start line and around Antarctica by sponsoring a degree of my record:

117 East – Pacific Sailing School
118 East – Dennis Wellington – Mayor of Albany
119 East – David Leckenby in honour of the Australian Marine Conservation Society
120 East – Club 4 x 4 thanks to Kalen Ziflian

By Lisa Blair

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

Barton Skydock
Ronstan
Sun Odyssey 380
West System 3
Ronstan
Sun Odyssey 380
Lagoon 51