Lisa Blair: ‘Gearing up for my first Southern Ocean storm’

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 has officially crossed over onto the 45-degree south line. Read the below blog post from Blair, where she reflects on her journey so far.

Hi everyone,

Well last night I managed to make some good time, getting in over 100 nm in 12 hours, so it was some fun sailing (although I was in bed for most of it). This morning I started to maintain a watch on the position because I was nearing this infamous line of 45 south and once I sailed across that line I would be in a position to be able to alter course and start sailing east.

To give this some context, in 2008 when Fedor Konyukhov set the world record as the fastest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica, he did it while completing in a race.  The Antarctica Cup Ocean Race.  This race was founded by Perth sailor Bob Williams with the intention of having gated starting points and structuring it so that it was country against country, fully crewed divisions and shorthanded, or solo divisions. 

In the end it was Fedor Konyukhov who was the only competitor and set an elapsed time of 102 days.  Therefore, setting the record I am now trying to beat.  Now for me to be able to beat this record I need to conform to the same race rules as Fedor and start and finish from the same location.  Hence the start being in Albany. The Antarctica Cup Ocean Race had built a virtual racetrack around the Southern Ocean where once a boat or competitor entered into the racetrack they would not be able to leave it unless they were retiring from the race.

Selfie of Lisa Blair on day 6.
Lisa Blair aboard Climate Action Now. Pic – Lisa Blair

This race track is established between 45 and 60 south in the Southern Ocean.  45 south is roughly in line with the bottom tip of Tasmania and 60 south is approximately the tip of the Antarctica Peninsular.

So today just after 8 am I officially crossed over onto the 45-degree south line allowing me to turn east and start aiming to Tasmania as my next land mass to sail past.  This is a huge milestone of the trip because I can now actually start making gains on the record rather than sailing directly south. I can’t wait to get started.

Shortly after rounding this mark it was like I had sailed into a different world and was officially in the Southern Ocean, the seascape had been hinting at it for days but today I really felt it.  You could see these big rolling waves at five metres at a time coming along towards you. The ocean resembles peaks and valleys rather than waves.  There was a noticeable increase in birdlife today and the temperature dropped again, there was lots of low-lying clouds and the only thing that seemed to be missing was yet again the WIND!!!

Not an hour after rounding the 45 south line the winds once again dropped out and I was left wallowing around in large swells travelling at the rapid rate of two knots…  This lack of wind persisted all day and even now I only have eight knots of wind, so while I am able to sail with that it isn’t a lot and I am not getting the epic speeds I was getting last night.

I downloaded a grib file this morning and it shows a whopping great bit storm set to pass below me tomorrow onwards so I will be getting a dramatic increase in winds by tomorrow night.  I am aware that often these storms move up or down and the forecasts tend to be a little less accurate down here because there aren’t as many data points. 

This is a big reason why I was so keen to deploy the weather drifter boys for the Bureau of Meteorology because the more data points the better the forecast.  Not to mention Climate Action Now is an active weather station plugged right into the BoM platform right now, adding yet another data point.

So I spent most of today just going checks around the boat, opening bilges and removing any water found, checked the steering cables and the mast etc. just to be as prepared as possible and now I am going to retire for some sleep after my early wakeup.

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

M.O.S.S Australia
Nav at Home
Lagoon 51
Pantaenius Sailing
M.O.S.S Australia
Sun Odyssey 380
West System Afloat