This was our last day at sea for the trip. Today was the day that we would return to the bay.
I slept like a log last night! I never had to get up to do watches, and the proximity alarm never went off. I laid my head down and woke up when I was ready to, not when I had to.
I always wake up on the early side, but today I slept in until 8 AM! The winds were light so I shook out the reefs in the main and raised the jib. We were flying under full sail in the rather light winds of the morning.
As time progressed, the winds began to build, slowly but steadily climbing from 8 knots to 12 knots, then around 30 min later, climbing to 15 knots, then to 20 knots. I like to take down the jib and put a reef in the main at 20 knots because if it continues to build, I'll need the sails reefed; whereas if it stays steady, we can always shake the reef out.
Our rule is we don't go forward while the other person is sleeping (unless we are raising the sails first thing in the morning). While we are tethered to the boat, we would just be dragged along until the other person wakes and finds us dangling. Since we were moving along at speeds of 7+ knots in large rolling seas, I felt it would be best to wake Maddie to helm Wisdom while I reefed.
Herein lies the problem! Maddie likes to sleep until around 10 or 11 AM, and waking here for no reason would incur her wrath! My concern was if I woke her up to reef the sails and the wind died down, making her mad at me for waking her. So I decided to call out to her very quietly, hoping she would hear me and come up without blaming me for waking her.
Around 9:30 AM, the winds had built to 27 knots steady with large seas when she awoke. We were on starboard tack on a broad reach with full sail up. I needed to get the jib down in a hurry and reef the main fast! When she came up, a bit groggy yet, I began ordering her around telling her to put us on a run and blanket the jib with the main so I could bring it in, then come about and put us on port tack so I could reef, then jibe back onto our original course under reduced canvas. I will admit this was the one time in our trip where I was not diplomatic and ran the boat like a hot headed dictator spouting orders and commands in every direction. This was because for the past hour and a half, I had been watching the winds build and figured out the best way to go about the situation.
She took the helm and I went forward, clipped in and ready to work! I sat on the foredeck with the jib halyard in my hand leading to the winch that only had a few wraps on it so I could let it down in a controlled manner. I sat there letting out a bit of halyard as I pulled down on the downhaul. The jib began coming down without me having to go forward to the forepeak. I was able to do all of this in a seated position just forward of the mast. Once the sail had lost its air and collapsed, I began pulling the clew onto the deck as Maddie eased the sheets slightly (we didn't want a repeat of what happened in the bay when the drifter sheet fouled the prop). Once the sail was on deck, I lashed it to the toerail and returned to the cockpit.
Now we turned hard to starboard, timing the waves so we wouldn't take any on the beam. As we came into the wind, we sheeted in the main to power us through the turn but we stalled and began drifting backwards onto Tooth's painter. I quickly ran to the stern and pulled the painter in, luckily it never found the propeller. Maddie then gunned the engine and powered us through the turn to put us on port tack. The electric motor was a life saver in this situation. If it were diesel, we would have had to start it (praying that it would start), let it warm up for a moment and then gun it. If we had no engine, we would have had to sheet the jib to port while turning the rudder to port as well. This would cause the reversing sailboat to turn its stern to port which would then pull the bow through the wind until the jib would be backed then pushing the bow over completing the turn. While not the hardest maneuver to perform, gunning the electric motor was a simple command to give as opposed to explaining how to do the other maneuver since I was not at the helm. The electric is always ready to go at a moments notice for those quick short bursts of thrust.
I prefer to reef on port tack since the winches for the reef lines and halyard are on the port side of the mast. If we are on starboard tack, I would have to work on the leeward side and be blanketed by the sail as it falls off the boom. When we do this, I have to ask Maddie if the clew line is tight enough or if I need to keep working. On port tack, I'm on the windward side, everything is easy to see and I can work standing. It's a matter of comfort when working in rolling seas. Once the sails were reefed, we jibed and resumed our previous heading towards the mouth of the bay.