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Update, day 52: riding ahead of the storm!

Well, I certainly know that the cold front has passed over! It's freezing down here at 52 degrees south in a cold air mass, without a heater or an engine. If I had an engine to charge my batteries like the other boats I would start it up and cuddle with it, calling it pet names, shower it with kisses! How I actually keep warm is less exciting. Lots of excellent thermal layers from Gill, chemical hot patches that I stick to my thermals and lots and lots of tea and soup! Still, if I go out without gloves to quickly check the sails my hands go numb and then I don't have enough grip strength to open another soup packet when I come back inside. A big drama! Speaking of big dramas, I was really concerned about this massive depression behind me because in the days before it struck the pilot started acting up again and I was terrified that it would force a wipeout in 40+ knots of wind. The solution was to put in place my spare wind instruments on the back of the boat (The Wind Master 2000!) instead of continuing to repair the primary units on at the mast head. I also unplugged any sensor not strictly required in order to reduce the potential for false information on the circuits. So far, everything's working great. Positioning myself in front of this system was a gutsy move but it has worked out better than expected. I just needed to maintain enough speed in strong conditions to avoid being caught up by the truly terrifying wind and waves in the center. Staying ahead would allow me to head straight east with good speed and relatively flat seas and allow the depression to gradually die out and continue drifting south out of harms way. However as the barometer dropped to 980 mb (!) and dark clouds gathered on the horizon behind I didn't feel quite so clever! Thankfully I judged my pace to no break anything and I have still outpaced the center and the barometer is rising again so it looks like another well informed gamble has paid off. My 'ready for anything' ethos was tested again recently when I changed sails with the increasing wind and looked up to see a tear in the solent jib near the head of the sail. With the stronger winds coming this would be my workhorse sail and just using a smaller sail wasn't an option as I would be too slow and be caught by the depression. I thus prepared some adhesive patches and climbed the mast in the rain with the boat powered up and bouncing along. I managed to brace myself against the mainsail and twist my torso like a contorsionist to squish the new panels onto both sides of the sail. Incredibly the repair is holding and I kept my speed position in the weather system.

28.12 a bit chilly © Foresight Natural Energy #Vendée Globe

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