Storm sails under racing rules are a storm jib (or in our case a staysail set on an inner forestay) and a trysail (a pocket handkerchief sized substitute for the mainsail). Mandatory when offshore racing, most racing boats have them in a bag somewhere deep in the forepeak, rarely-to-be-seen. Pretty much the only time they’re pulled out is passing the check-in point before a big race. The authorities like you to show that they can actually be hoisted. Again mandatory, they are bright, day-glow orange.
We did a light weather deploy of our storm sails shortly after leaving Cape Town. The wind roses on the Admiralty Indian Ocean Routing Chart 5126 (October) indicating a bit of breeze might be likely heading into the Southern Indian Ocean. Just a bit.
The little orange staysail has proved to be a gem (well done North Sails, this is no standard cardboard-flat-as-a-pancake shapeless bit of rubbish). So much so we have been flying it under the working jib as a cutter rig since then, furling away the bigger jib when the wind strength rises.
We have again been having problems with the boom vang, so after 2-3 days with 2 reefs in the main and strong northerly winds, it seemed sensible to drop down to the storm staysail and trysail in anticipation of more to come. Great timing. At 35-40 kts (or force 8 to the pommies), the orange sails have been truly superb. Slicing along at 9-11 kts on a broad reach, Kialoa has not felt pressed, the autopilot has coped well and we have been chewing up the miles.
That is not to say it has been easy sailing though. With depressing regularity it seems some kid with a really big bucket sneaks up on the watch-keepers and chucks the contents at them. Occasionally there is fair warning: a rushing roar of water that’s sounding like an approaching torpedo might, an almighty BOOM as a cross-wave thumps the aluminium hull then a deluge of water fills the cockpit.
All our outer gear is constantly wet – indeed we have taken to running the main engine for half an hour or so a couple of times a day to get some heat into the floor of the main saloon and airflow from the engine blowers to help remove at least some of the water from our gear before heading out on watch again.
The doghouse is a real blessing while it’s like this. All the wet stuff stays up there and hangs in the aft workshop, the main saloon stays basically dry. And its soooo quiet down below. So quiet that heading out on watch can be a bit of a shock as you rally from your bunk, gear up, and then poke your head out into the maelstrom that will be your watch for the next 2 hours.
The last 3 days or so the skies and seas have been unremittingly heavy grey: very low cloud, drizzle and even a bit of fog. The only colour as you come up on deck is an eye watering burst of fluro-orange so abrupt and out of context that even the albatross glide majestically across for a closer look.