They told me I must put a few thoughts for the blog together or not come to the Cowes crew party even though I help pay for it-tough love Prospector style. I’m the oldest crew and that along with what seems to be the deepest off-shore/distance racing experience (except for Henry, Tery and Quinn) grants me the Watch Captain title along with Paul.
Well things are hotting up on Grey Power - well at least when contrasted with this morning's blog! And yes it is not the temperature but it is related. We have now entered a South West to South South West wind of force 5 to 6 propelling Grey Power at speeds of 15.6 knots average in the last 6 hours and peaks well in excess of 20 knots.Of course this has come a bit late to materially effect our final position in the race, but the skipper likes to sprint at the finish.
The last of these weather systems are over us now and have been for the past eight hours or so. The guys have all put in a huge effort to try and push Dorade as hard as possible, with the hopes of minimizing the mileage loss against the other boats in front and behind us. The turbulent seas and lack of moonlight have made this rather difficult at night. During this time, Dorade is at the mercy of the sea, as there is very little helm control as she roles and moves with each passing wave.
A Wild Night and A Wet Day
Shortly after last night’s post, our circumstances began to change very rapidly. We thought we were settling down to a quiet night, our third in a row without chaos, with a conservative sail plan and a breeze dropping from 25 knots to 20 and rising back to 25 knots from the Southwest.
We have had an incredibly busy and productive 24 hours. While last night’s post “Wilderness” was being finalized Prospector was buzzing with activity.
For 24 hours we had been struggling with the light winds, sub 20 knots, and were losing ground to our competitors. We knew where to find more wind, but were reluctant to separate from the fleet to go get it. Finally, we decided that we had no choice. We had to go. The on watch crew executed the gybe and once again we were off to the north to find the low pressure system we have been playing with for the last few days.
Good morning to you all. Normal service has now resumed on the blogging front!
We are now well within our at sea routine with watches and sleep being punctuated by sail changes, meals and happy hours. The good news is that we still have plenty of fresh lime on board so the risks to our health are low. We also have plenty of food (some of which is still fresh believe it or not despite the absence of any fridge) and hence morale and banter are high (in case you hadn't noticed from our previous two blogs!!)
Shearwater has a crew of 6 so there is a lot of multi-tasking. During this race, the crew has been treated to some of the best meals they've had on-or off-shore. Here, we thought we'd email select sections from an exclusive interview we conducted with the Heroic Chef Co-Captain (HCC-C) regarding the superb cuisine that he creates daily:
If you really want to know what sailing Phaedo3 is like you can either, rent a convertible sports car, put the top down and drive down a dirt track at 40mph... in a rain storm! or climb inside your washing machine and put it on a cold wash cycle for 4 hours.
The noise is deafening, we have to shout at each other on deck and down below. The motion is violent as we surf down waves at 34kn plus, its difficult to see the sailing instruments on the fwd beam as there is so much spray on deck, it takes 20mins for the adrenaline to die down after being on the helm for an hour. Welcome to what we onboard call tier 2 fun. It might not always be fun at the time, but when you get chance to look back on it, you cant help think it was awesome.
Despite the slow start and nearly a day of very light wind, full sun and shorts and t-shirts, the North Atlantic has delivered the real deal. Over the last 24 hours, we ripped along past the constraints of the ice gates and are now headed for the finish with only tactics to concern us.
Just now, the wind is in the mid 20s, the horizon is a lumpy mess of 2- to 3-meter seas and our boat speed is peaking in the low 30s.
Life on board is wet. It’s wet in the cockpit, it’s wet in the companionway, it’s wet in the galley and it’s wet in our berths. The sounds from the surf crashing over the deck and the whistling from the rudders is incessant.
The violent motion below makes the simpest things impossible. Filling a water bottle makes a mess. Getting a spoon into one’s mouth gets pretty messy. Pressing a button on a touch screen is fraught with error. Typing on a computer, whether for navigation or editing these dispatches is laborious with far more keystrokes wrong than right.
The exhilaration and the competition makes it all worthwhile. Closing in and then blowing on past a full size ship in the dark is an experience that can’t be explained in words or video. The regular updates on positions and speeds keep everyone on board tuned in and as with every yacht in the race, we’re giving everything we have with everything we’ve got.
Last night was surreal. Once again we headed into fast winds which proved faster than advertised. With 3 reefs in our mainsail, and staysail up, we clocked winds up to 42.8 mph in a harrowing trip to the north of the course.
As our A5 was blown out on day 2, we decide
d to just "go for it" with an outlier course. Thank god we didn't wipe out. Absolutely crazy ambience, with water flying everywhere in the dark. Felt like "The Blair Witch Project Goes Sailing" to me. Rob puts on a good face, but even he knew it was a bit sketchy...I think.
Anyhow, I hit a big wave and literally went flying from my driver's seat to the driver's seat on the other side of the boat (12 feet away) with a dull thunk. Rob was down below and said he saw a flash of yellow (my MUSTO suit) go by.
Now I sit with a bruised rib cage and lump on the side of my head. SO lucky my face didn't hit the grinder! I was tethered in to the middle jacklines, but almost went overboard anyhow.
Today is a brighter day. Our "northern" strategy includes 15 hours of kite sailing and so we are poised to hit 300 miles today, if lucky.
We'll see if it's enough to put us back in the game with our other double handed competitor, Dragon Ocean Racing .
We've learned AMHAS broke the winch attached sideways to their mast and will arrive in the Azores shortly. We've heard two other boats have also retired to the Azores - once you're in the middle of the North Atlantic there's no place else to go!
Lastly, just want to say Congrats to my teammates, SHOUT RACING, for their stellar finish (2nd across the line) in the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race ! #tr2015