A beautiful steady breeze blew all day, once again… But in the next day or two, we knew Aldebaran would be approaching latitudes where the trade winds break down and stronger/variable winds can occur.
We used the fair conditions as an opportunity to work à la “Boatyard of the Pacific”!
As Aldebaran sailed with the consistent breeze of 10-15kts from ENE, run by Ziggy the autopilot, Spencer and Kristian were on deck revamping the reefing system.
Reefing is the “reducing” of the mainsail with a number of lines to keep the sail shape intact, while having less sail area for stronger winds.
There was an issue with the level of the boom when reefed, which vexed Captain K for years. Seems that Master Mariner MacRae was able to figure it out! “Just lift the boom” he said. Seems obvious now, but this required a shift in the setup. The boys spent hours fine tuning the three reefing lines before retiring for tea time.
Then ironically at 5pm, after a day of steady breezes, a darker than usual band of clouds appeared behind us.
“Geez could this be a proper squall?” Kristian wondered. After two weeks of consistent winds and mellow rainshowers, it was hard to imagine the weather packing a punch. But this one looked different.
“Maybe we should reef!” Spencer remarked happily. He is the world’s greatest geek about sailboat rigging and was visibly excited to test out his new system.
“As they say, if you’re thinking about reefing, we should do it,” Sabrina chimed in.
The boys were lolligagging, buckling their harnesses, and eventually got on deck. They were halfway through reducing sail and suddenly the gusts sped up to 28knots and the rain began pelting down. The headsail heaved forward with power, and the double-reefed main drove the boat like a dagger.
“Whoa that came up quick!”
Soggy but satisfied they returned to the cockpit, shaking their heads and re-affirming the salty old rule: “if you’re thinking of reefing, you should reef.”
We are now just 400 nautical miles from our first potential landfall, Ducie Atoll, which is situated in a latitude 24 degrees South, just outside the trade wind belt. It’s nice to know that now we can reef quickly and effectively, with confidence in the new system.
ALDEBARAN DAILY POSITION
0900hrs local time. April 25, 2017
S 22 00.362 W 118 15.180
Distance last 24hrs: 120nm
Light winds 8-10kt NE continue with short pulses to 20-25kts with squalls, same direction. Course is SW 245 degrees, boat speed 5kt average.