Wrong direction and very strong – Lisa Blair finds the wind off Karratha

Lisa Blair is attemtping to become the first woman to circumnavigate Australia solo, non-stop and unassisted. On Tuesday November 20 she was off the coast of Western Australia, not far from Karratha. Here is her latest blog:

Well, I have certainly found the wind… Yesterday afternoon the winds were blowing in at 5 knots and I spent most of the day in light winds however I was aware that there was a change coming and that I needed to be prepared for 20 knots from the South. This new breeze hit just at sunset as the sky was filled with reds. The winds went from the NW to the W and then to the SW. They then proceeded to build to 25 knots in the space of 10 minutes so I madly changed my jib over from the J1 which is the large sail to the slightly smaller J3 sail. I also wasn't expecting that the winds would stay strong for too long so I decided to de-power the mainsail rather than put a reef in as I didn't want to have to shake the reef out an hour later.

I was also now sailing into 2-3 meters of messy swell that was kicked up from the wind and rounding the western corner of Australia so every couple of minutes I would crash off a horribly steep wave and everything would shudder. To de-power the mainsail I made the sail as flat as I could by adjusting the out-haul and sheet and then lowered it down the traveller until the boat balanced out. It wasn't comfortable but Climate Action Now was taking it okay.

It ended up being a really long night with not much sleep as my bunk is on the port side and I was on a port tack for most of the night so I ended up laying awkwardly against the lee cloth (the cloth that stops you falling out of bed) and every big crash would wake me up. I was also still around the traffic and oil rigs so I was also unable to have any long periods of sleep as I was needing to keep a safe watch so I was napping at 20 min intervals all night.

The winds ended up maxing out at 27 knots and I am now sailing in 17 knots but the fact that I am still sailing as close as I can into the swell and wind just means that this next week is likely to be quite uncomfortable. When I am sailing close hauled the boat leans over often at a 45-degree angle so everything simply becomes hard from moving around the cabin, making a meal to using the head (toilet). In fact, there are special techniques needed to operate the head correctly in weather like this otherwise the boat could lean over just a little too much and you end up losing what was in the bowl on the floor. You also can't move around anywhere without gripping on to one of the many handrails around the boat and I also can't have any hatches open so the inside of the boat is really hot and stuffy making things like sleep even more difficult.

All in all, though I did manage to make some miles and will be clear of the top NW of Australia in 120nm and I can then tack to the South. I have about a 1000 nm until I round the point at Albany and start heading into the Southern Ocean and the whole of that distance will be upwind. Anyway, apart from a little sleep deprivation everything is going well.

Jeanneau SF30 OD
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