The evening of the 6th and the first half of the 7th have so far seen little wind, no clouds and, with the exception of a few dolphins, a featureless sea. It’s looking to be a hot still afternoon and with luck the breeze will fill in before tomorrow.
Otherwise, life on board is good. Well fed, well rested, dry and not smelling too badly, everyone is in good spirits and waiting for wind.
Last night and most of today have featured slightly stronger breeze and, as a result, better sailing than we’d expected. The A3 remains our headsail of choice with a change from the Genoa Staysail to our J4 and now back to the GS. Just now, we’ve closed to within about a dozen miles of Comanche as measured to the next mark in the course associated with the Ice Gate.
It’s surprisingly warm on deck in full sun, the workload is modest and a number of us have remarked that it seems a bit more like Transpac conditions than a Transatlantic. Last night we spent some long hours diagnosing problems with our Automated Identification System, which plays a critical role in a number of ways: it’s designed to assist in avoiding collisions at sea, it is also a key component of our man overboard recovery strategy and an onboard requirement for participation in the Transatlantic, and it’s required for navigation within the English Channel.
Our own installation was working well when we left the dock on Sunday, but within a few hours of the start, we noticed that we were experiencing very short range and then as night fell we were unable to detect any of the fishing boats that were often within only a few hundred meters.
After eliminating all other possibilities, we concluded the problem was with the antenna. This morning, bowman Scott Beavis made a trip to the top of the mast and quickly descending to announce that nothing remained of the masthead antenna or the connector to the mast antenna cable.
We managed to put together a solution based on a dissected spare VHF antenna, a crimp connector, some rigging tape and a little underwater epoxy and after one more trip to the masthead, we’re back in business.
The Rambler crew assembled at Newport Shipyard at 10 a.m. The first order of the day was assembling all our post race paraphernalia for air shipment to England. The scene on the dock was fairly relaxed compared to the previous weeks near endless work lists. As we stowed personal gear on board and assembled for our pre-departure crew meeting, our impression was that the Rambler was by far in the best shape since being launched in late 2014.
We ticked through a quick review of weather, safety, watch system and a final thanks to the shore team for the outstanding preparation and with little fanfare, dropped the dock lines and motored for the starting area.
Narraganset Bay was surprisingly filled with spectator craft of every shape and size. Many made fly-bys with cheers, waves and kind words for our safety and results for our Transatlantic Race and future slate of events in the U.K., the Mediterranean and Australia. It was a great send off for a program that was conceived, constructed, commissioned and campaigned in Rhode Island.
It was good to watch Paradox get a bit into Phaedo during the Open Class start just minutes before our own, which was, thankfully, much less eventful. We enjoyed a stronger-than-forecast breeze with full main and J2 and then transitioning to FRO and Genoa Staysail.
Now, at 1930 EDT (2330 UTC), we’ve cleared Nantucket shoal, cracked off a bit and peeled to our A3. The crew has settled into our watch system, which is four watches of four, with four fresh crew coming on deck every two hours in rotation. That gives each of us a four-on/four-off routine, with navigator Andrew Cape, strategist Brad Butterworth and owner George David floating.
In the foreground, Simon Daubney (right, trimmer) talks with Josh Belsky (pit) about jib mode. In the background, left to right, the crew in hats are Stu Wilson (boat captain/trimmer), Stu Bannatyne (watch captain), Scott Beavis (bow), Andrew Cape (navigator) and Brad Butterworth (tactics).
Broad reaching at 20 knots
Scott Beavis (left, bow) and Stu Bannatyne working to make the best of 3 knots of wind.