Storm on

Originally appeared on Conrad Colman's official blog.
 
Well, there's quite a breeze outside at the moment and the front is still approaching so it's going to blow harder before it even thinks about dying down. I am happy with our position relative to the coming front as I have enough space from the ice exclusion zone to bear away and run downwind if I need to when the front passes with an estimated 55kts in the gusts.

 
I currently am ripping along with my smallest jib and two reefs in the main sail and even with such small sails I still saw 27kts on the speedo! At such speeds it's dangerous to work on deck or in the cockpit because the waves coming over the boat have so much force that I have been knocked flat by "spray". I am clipped on at all times and limit my time outside to the strictly necessary maneuvers and I still feel like I've been in the ring with Tyson.

This storm is certainly more intense than the others we've experienced so far, the proof is that the cockpit drain that has worked flawlessly so far sprung a leak and in the couple of hours between my regular checks had filled the entire back compartment with water. Five minutes of pumping with a high speed electric pump didn't make a dent so I had to get creative to get the water out. I clipped my harness on and then climbed over the back of the boat and stood on the little skirt on the transom, just 4 centimeters up from the raging wake of the boat. From there I could open the back emergency escape hatch and release the flood from the inside. Still on the back of the boat, I was able to use the remote control for the autopilot to change course several times to shake the worst of the water out through the back door before finishing with the pumps.

I was afraid that the autopilot would be drowned but it is mounted high enough that it wasn't touched. Only my nerves were fried this time! How did I stop the leak on this carbon fiber racing yacht full of high tech stuff? With a wooden bung! Sometimes it pays to go back to the basics when it's blowing 40kts!
 
Conrad Colman is currently sailing the Foresight sponsored Vendée Globe entry boat Foresight Natural Energy.