Sailing to Durban, South Africa – Beating Into It – Day 11


0300- The wind has changed again, I can feel it from my bunk and it wakes me up. The motion of the boat becomes jerky and irregular. I’m trying to think back on another passage where the wind has been so temperamental. I’m hard pressed, this has to be one of the worst… It only sticks around a few hours as if to tease you then disappears leaving you wallowing and clanking in the swells. I can’t take it anymore so roll out of bed and talk to Jens who is on watch. I suggest we start motor sailing which we do and it stabilizes us a little bit. For the time being at least now we can sleep a little more.

0600- I awake to hear Brady tacking the boat. Interesting, the wind must have shifted a lot to be on our starboard tack now. The motion settles down and I fall asleep quickly. Brady knows what he’s doing so no worries.

0800- I feel us tacking again, the wind must be shifting again. I roll out of bed and head up to the cockpit. We are now back on port tack and through the morning the wind has changed from SW to S and now to SE. This is the change we’ve been expecting. So far it looks like the weather forecast is spot on. It’s 15-20 knots and Delos is making good speed. 8 knots through the water plus 1.5 knots of current! The swells aren’t so big yet so the motion is pretty comfortable.

1000- It’ time for my watch so I put down my book and take over the helm. We are on course and making good speed although the wind has built to 25 knots now and we put a 2nd reef in all the sails. Within an hour I fully take the main in leaving just a reefed genoa and mizzen. Otherwise we go too fast and start slamming through waves. The swells are building and Delos is rocking and rolling, doing what she does best on the ocean. 8.5 knots on course and cruising! We are heeling over at a constant 20 degrees, sometimes 30 when we get hit with a big wave but this is what she was built to handle. I grab the Go Pro with gimbal and do some filming from the back deck of how Delos handles the wind and swells. I never get tired of watching this. Jens and Uli are a little bit nervous of the weather I think. Neither of them have sailed in ocean conditions like this and I think they wonder if she will hold together. I remember thinking the exact same thing on my first ocean passage so I try to comfort them, letting them know the conditions really are pretty normal for this type of sailing and it probably wouldn’t last too long.

1200- The conditions continue to build and we put another reef in the genoa. Delos is slamming through waves which puts a shudder through the entire boat. It doesn’t happen that often but every once in a while a wave comes at a slightly different angle, and of just the perfect size. You can feel the bow start to hang in midair for a brief instant, then the plummet down followed by the loud SLAM. Delos is balanced and sailing really well. Karin takes our Xoom microphone around the boat recording the sounds of Delos underway. Creaks, groans, trimming of sails, water rushing by. We’re trying to incorporate more sound effects in the videos so it’s pretty cool to have these. Brady makes a delicious chicken soup for lunch.

1300- We take a few big waves over Delos and get some splashes into the cockpit. Nothing out of the ordinary but still really fun the watch the expressions on the newbies faces ?

1500- I decide to head below and watch a movie. I pick a random one called “Dope” which actually is really well done. Two hours fly by and I check our course and position. We’re doing very well and the forecast has been accurate. The breeze has backed a little more to the East. Maintaining our course becomes easier now that we’re another 15 degrees off the wind. We are about 100 miles off shore, 110 mile from Richards Bay, and about 200 miles from Durban. If we can maintain good speed that puts us into Durban before tomorrow night. Exciting!

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