02 June 2010

Sailing downwind

From sailing

Here is a photo from last year, on the return leg coming back from Lord Howe Island. I was going over some old albums with the view to uploading them into Picasa when I found this photo, which I was sure I'd taken but thought I'd lost.

We had a tailwind behind us, a pretty steady 15 knots or so, without changing much for about 2 days. So we doused the mainsail and poled out the genoa to leeward, and the staysail came up from down below. I have the genoa on a furler but the staysail is hanked on and normally lives downstairs below the forepeak, we pull it up on a halyard when we need it.

It was two days of the most pleasant sailing possible, giant sea spiders notwithstanding. By the end of it on my night watch I was considering hauling the crew up from downstairs with the call "we've had a wind shift, time to change sails" about every hour so they could experience what ocean sailing was really like. However at the end of 2 days we really did have a wind shift, it moved around to the north a bit so we got rid of the staysail and took the pole off the genoa -- 12 hours later it was peaking around 35 knots, still behind us and with only a 1.5 - 2m swell, so no major difficulties.

12 hours after that we were back in through Sydney heads, having covered the 420nm from Lord Howe Island to Sydney in a bit over 2 1/2 days.