Hi, how are you?! I’ve passed New Zealand, so here is my message about the last days. Hobart was a big success, I had a great time. I have new energy again; I want to fly and go fast. And so far, that has turned out a bit. When I feel better, I do change my sails more quickly and I do work faster. It was great sailing towards New Zealand. Often there was a lot of wind but from the right direction and I had no headwinds, so that was great!
Let me explain to you 'what the Southern Ocean really means'. You must constantly deal with low pressure systems. What happens when a cold front is passing by? The wind starts generally from north-west/north and increases in strength to 35-40 knots. When a cold front passes by in two minutes the wind goes from northwest to southwest. You’re sailing beam reach/broad reach. Then the boat turns with the changing wind and now you must deal with headseas. Because the wind turned so fast, you’re suddenly sailing against the old swell and waves. You must be ready to gybe while you have this incredibly wild sea. Because the wind is that strong the bow of the boat is constantly under water, the waves are 3-5 meters high. You don’t wanna know what happens when the wind changes. You must gybe quickly. As soon as the wind has turned, usually the showers decrease.
Before the front arrives you’ve to deal with a lot of showers , a lot of bad weather. And it’s also difficult to see when it will come. Because hours before you actually have the same pattern. A lot of clouds in a row. You always think, ‘this will be the front’ and then again it turns out not to be. The front always comes later than you thought it would. And once it’s there, the bad weather usually stops. The showers become less, the squalls still remain but become less. And the wind is also getting less. I think, for me, that’s actually the most difficult situation. The sea is really rough and you have to put more sail up. And it sounds very strange, but you constantly look at the water to see what the wind speed is. But at that moment the sea is so terribly wild it’s difficult to find out how hard it really blows. So it's very hard to see if it's 25,30 or 35 knots and to choose the right sails. This situation actually repeats every 3 or 4 days. On my way to New Zealand I have had two fronts coming over me. That is the real Southern ocean weather. At the moment a cold front comes over me, I'm on the front deck to change sails. In fact more under than above water. That is quite a thing.
Now I’m sailing at 47.5 degrees South. I can feel it also. Now It’s a lot colder than before I approached Hobart. Especially when the wind is coming from the South it’s so incredibly cold. I'm not claustrophobic but when I’m not in the middle of a storm, I really want to sleep with the hatch open. Up to 35 knots I can sleep with the sliding hatch open, I do have the doors in. But when you have a good and westerly wind , the wind blows straight into the boat. For me it’s very annoying to sleep with the hatch closed. So the boat gets very cold inside. But I do have really good sailing clothes with me. When I go outside in these clothes, I always get warm again. Only my hands are cold. I’m very happy that I have really good wear.
Furthermore every went very well. I wanted to take the Foveaux Strait , between Stewart Island and the southern island of New Zealand. But I might catch a no wind area so eventually I decided to go south of Stewart Island. And actually, the night I made that decision, there was a cold front again. The wind came from the north and the sea was rough because of the shallows. So I was glad that I headed south of Stewart Island because I could take the wind a bit more from behind.
Now I actually passed Stewart Island and I’m sailing in 40-45 knots of true wind. When sailing in a broad reach, with 40-45 knots wind speed is not so bad. So yes I’m super happy. For me this is the half way point of the race. I have moved my halfway point slightly. When I got from the eastern to the western hemisphere I’m at a safe distance from New Zealand. And now? Now I’m in the Western Hemisphere going home. So this is my halfway point. Since Hobart I have not eaten chocolate and I still have a bag of candy that I was planning to open at Hobart but I did not open it either. So I feel strong and that’s funny. The moment you feel strong you can be more strict to yourself, so that's fun. Well, this is it for now. I'll talk to you in a week, bye!
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