Sunday, May 31, 2009

Inside Capricorn Channel

As so typical with sailing, conditions went from too little to too much. Winds were very light or from slightly the wrong direction for days, so we were forced to motor sail on Thursday, Friday and most of Saturday. Made very good progress and everything was comfortable. Then Saturday night conditions picked up considerably as predicted. We knew before we left Noumea that we would be looking at 20 to 25 knot winds for Sunday and Monday. But we figured since the direction would be from the SE that the wind would be behind the beam so that was no big deal at all.

What we did not figure into the equation was the southerly setting current all along the eastern side of Australia. When the strong SE and SSE winds picked up, so did the disturbed seas. And in a big, big way. When we had 380 miles left to go the winds picked up to sustained 30 knots and gusting 40. That was early Saturday evening. It is now Monday morning and winds have finally dropped back to 20 sustained. But it was not the strong wind that was the problem; it was the horribly disturbed seas. Waves 4 and 5 meters high and swirling close together. It was awful and Bill and I were both gulping down seasickness meds. It was like being inside a washing machine on heavy-duty agitation cycle with 15-18 foot waves tossing you about.

Goodbye to our nice long night watch schedule. It was all either of us could stand just to sit tucked up in the forward corner of the cockpit for 3 hours at a stretch while holding onto whatever we could grab to keep from being thrown across the cockpit --- while the other person held on tight while lying in the passage bunk. Really couldn't stand to lie down longer than 3 hours either. So we have been switching between these 2 hells every 2 or 3 hours since Saturday night.

Now we are about 75 miles up into the Capricorn Channel and are hopeful that the outside reef will begin to break down the disturbed seas. Any time now would be fine with us. The swirling large waves have stopped and now we have rolling large waves but without regular timing so the boat surfs and rolls a lot. We have out just a patch of jib (no main sail or mizzen sail) and are sailing at around 7 knots SOG. Don't want to go any faster because the motion becomes uncomfortable with more boat speed. It is 163 miles to our destination of Mackay Marina.

Saturday night as this nasty weather began during my watch and all I could think of was that I am tired....tired of boat movements and boat noises...tired of sitting...tired of reading...tired of eating whatever happens to be available and easy at the moment...tired of having salt-air-and-slept-on-too-much hair...tired of having to sit in an uncomfortable place in the cockpit...tired of being cold in the cockpit at night (thanks again Donna & Bruce for those cuddle blankets; they are wonderful)...tired of encountering incorrectly lighted fishing vessels in the middle of the night...tired of my nip and back hurting with the jerking/rolling of the waves...tired of everything. A long shower with good hair conditioner, scented body lotion, clean crisp sheets and 8 straight hours of sleep sound like heaven right now.

Bill and I are both very much looking forward to arriving at the marina tomorrow and are very thankful that there are no more tough passages in our near future.

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