Remember when you were little and things weren't going your way in the neighborhood Kick the Can game so you just called "Time Out!" to briefly pause the unfavorable situation you were caught up in? That's sort of what we did last night. The wind and seas increased until we had steady 30-35 knots and annoying steep waves. It was uncomfortable for us, stressful on the rig, and making it very difficult to hold our 45 degree wind angle. So we decided to heave to, a tactic in which you use the mainsail and rudder to stall the boat so that it moves only very slightly at a sideways direction through the water. It prevents waves from breaking over the beam and allows you to hold your position without stressing the rig too much. Basically, we sat around until the bad weather passed.
Heaving to sounds as though you're leaving yourself vulnerable, but actually it's often much safer than continuing to sail when you're close hauled (sailing at a shallow wind angle) like we were. We were able to sleep, stay out of the rain, and avoid losing too much ground. The boat doesn't get knocked around with as much force as when you're beating into it, so we were also able to watch Curb Your Enthusiasm while eating M&Ms, fill our tanks with water, and take nice hot showers. It turned out to be a nice little break from our routine and the next time I get asked my favorite question about being at sea - Do you stop at night?? - I won't be so quick to make it seem like a ridiculous thing.
We're moving again now. Still battling NE winds, but at least we have wind for the time being. It's forecast to drop out tomorrow so we could be motoring for at least a day. The nice thing is that at 315nm from Raivavae, we have enough fuel to be within motoring range if need be. We just need the wind to be ANY direction but NE in order to make a direct course. We're certainly learning to be patient...
At 24-May-16 9:38 PM (utc) our position was 27°51.26'S 151°43.79'W