Friday, 0500 UTC, July 17- Aphrodite update. We are now motoring east to Cowes and the Isle of Wight having finished last night at 2035. The 24 hours preceeding our finish was marked by some interesting weather and a final punch by mother nature to our sail inventory.
Since the last update we were proceeding under our 3/4 oz chute and following the route drawn out by Sheila our navigator extraordinaire. We needed to find a band of decent wind to keep our sails full and essentially avoid a developing high pressure area between two lows.
The SW wind was expected to veer and we wanted to be able to reach to the finish at the Lizard. The weather did not completely follow the forecast and we found ourselves to the west of the Scilly Isles and the shortest route at that time turned out to be to pass north of the Scillys. It is a veritable rock garden there but there was sufficient room to pass through some areas safely. We switched to our last H #1 in a 15kt breeze.
As we were close hauled coming out of the east end of the Scillys, a tear developed along the foot of the sail and we elected to take it down. Upon doing so, we saw another tear at the upper portion of the head. We then hoisted the #2, or what was left of it, until a full on hole measuring 2 ft x 15 ft appeared. We then doused that and hoisted the storm jib and staysail, once again, and proceeded for a while, and then decided to hoist the light #1 in wind conditions at its upper range.
Things looked good for a while and we were only 18 miles to the Lizard when the wind velocity increased to 23 and that sail went. Finally, the H#1 was hoisted in hopes that the tears would not get worse and it got us across the line, thankfully.
Some Veuve Cliquot was broken out and the crew had some merriment along with some Mt. Gay, and some songs broke out. Too bad we are not good about remembering the second verses. The finish is actually 140 miles from Cowes, our final destination and the Royal Yacht Squadron.
We changed our watch schedules to allow significantly more down time for everyone to catch up on their sleep. I have to say that the energy level of the crew never dropped and even in the final hour with four headsail changes.
Thanks to a great crew for comitting to the race; Sheila our navigator, Stacey our starboard watch captain, Maurizio our port watch captain, Gino our backup navigator, Sam and Christian our young foredeck crew and Bruce, our chef. Everyone steered and completed all watches, even Sheila and Bruce with their additional responsibilities. It has been a pleasure facing the Atlantic with these people and the challenges and comraderie have provided memories to last a lifetime.
Thanks also to the sponsoring yacht clubs, NYYC, RORC, RYS and STC, the many volunteers and shoreside staff for making this happen. Thanks, love and appreciation go to our families and friends for their support in this endeavor and allowing us to explore some new boundaries in the open ocean. It is an endeavor not without risk and one that many would choose not to undertake but for this crew, and for varied reasons all based on the love of the sea, chose to rise to the unique challenge of competing in the Transat 2015.
Now looking forward to converting Aphrodite back to cruise mode and get her ready to head to Greece next week. This of course, to be followed by hanging out in Cowes for several days enjoying English hospitality, libations and food........
Chris aboard Aphrodite