Lisa Blair is nearly two-thirds of the way through her attempt to becomethe first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica.
March 23, 2017 – heavy fog in iceberg alley
Well this morning, as the first blue tinge of daylight started I found myself still wide awake… Following a combination of me not feeling too tired and the boat needing attention, I didn’t end up getting to bed until 8.30 am… The winds were from the NW and had started filling in with the first light. I ended up putting the first reef in the main sail and changing the headsails over from the No1 to the No 2. I was expecting gusts up to 30 knots as the cold front passed over me, however I ended up only experiencing 20 knot winds, so that’s a plus… Given that I was so late to bed I was late to rise and eventually got up around 4pm that afternoon. I was up and down a handful of times through the day but I wasn’t up long enough to really wake me up.
By the time I did re-surface the winds were already dropping off back to 8-10 knots so before 'breakfast' I was back up on deck to shake out the reef in the main sail and to change the jibs over again. As soon as I climbed on deck my clothes were covered in a thin film of misty moisture. Fog and lots of it surrounded the boat. It was so dense that the visibility was reduced to below 500m. There could have been a container ship less than a mile away and I would have been none the wiser, or worse still, ice… As it was I had the B&G AIS on and the radar set with the guard zone alarms but nothing triggered the alarms all evening. I am now sailing past the South Sandwich Islands and will hopefully be clear of them tomorrow. I am still 300nm to the North of them however they dictate the boundary line of Iceberg Alley, so once I am clear of them I should be clear of the additional ice risks this far north.
As the day progressed into night, the winds have kept abating and backing. They have changed from a NW wind to a W then SW, S, E and only blowing between 4-7 knots. It has been slow going all day. The winds have finally backed to the NE and filled in with a steady 8 knots. I have tacked back to a port tack to lay a course of 090 True.
As the winds are now playing nice, I can get some dinner ready. Given that it was calmer conditions than normal I have been taking advantage of this and mixing up my cooking from the freeze-dried meals. Last night I made a boat version of burrito and crisped them up in the fry pan. Tonight, I cooked some wraps in the fry pan with cheese and baked beans. It was almost Mexican, but not quite… They were delicious. I am so full now I feel that I am about to fall into a food coma and will be sleeping well tonight.
I have also been thinking about how best to manage the time zone changes and the very bad sleeping pattern that I have formed. It’s not the healthiest. I am only seeing a few short hours of daylight, not that there has been much sunshine around of late. So far, I have been going to bed in the wee hours of the morning as I have been struggling to adjust with all the time zone changes. Essentially, I have been permanently jet lagged. When I do get to bed I have been trying to stay in bed for at least 8 hours. This doesn't mean that I am getting 8 hours sleep but I am horizontal for most of that time. I have then been getting up and staying up for the remainder of the day, even if I feel a bit tired. I have been avoiding taking naps as I wanted to be able to try to get to bed a bit earlier that night instead. I never did manage to get to bed earlier and have been lacking sleep because of it. So, I feel a change of tactic is in order.
I am going to go back to effectively setting myself a watch system. I am not going to set a strict rota but I will go to bed for 4 hour shifts and then get up and complete some jobs on the boat and when I am ready get another 4 hours before getting back up for some dinner… This is very close to systems that I have used in the past, where I sleep at any available opportunity. What I like to call sleep banking. I forget that there is 24 hours in the day and simply sleep when I can and be awake when I need to. This should allow me to keep in good contact with Australia and at the same time spend a little time in the daylight… Win Win.
Another bad habit that I have is that I often take my phone to bed and read a chapter or two of my book. If the book is good, I can find myself still reading hours later, just totally absorbed. I am now going to ban the phone from the bed so that the bed only becomes a place to sleep. Someone has to be the adult around here… So hopefully by using some of these techniques I can adjust a bit better and get a bit of sunshine and a few more hours sleep in the day.
I finally have 10 knots of wind from the NNE and will be expecting gusts up to 30 knots over the course of the morning so I need to get up on deck and re-trim. Also, just a notification for anyone trying to text me on the boat. I just want to let you know that that phone is down at present. We are trying to get it working again but it may be a few days. If I don’t reply, please don’t take it to heart, or be concerned.