Mayfair and Park Lane
Currently looking out the window with around 400m visibility, and generally all is going well onboard, just approaching the mid-Atlantic ridge. Last night was a bit damp but not as cold as the night before, and it seems that the nights are getting a little shorter as we travel north into the mist. Jake Newman is on the helm again trying to eek out the surfs in on our 90 ton red bus.
Apologies for the gap in communication but the last 36hours have been entertaining.
At 2am Monday morning the boat was flat, hardly moving and the sails were snapping and flapping and making a racket. We could see jelly fish bob past, the cry of the sea bats as they swooped the boat and even airplanes in the sky. it was that still. Sleep came easily to all and most of us had a full four hours between our watches. Bliss
Roll forward to 10am and the wind has moved forward and we are beating upwind and living life at a 25 degree heel. We are moving along at a pace. Everyone is ordered highside. I am unsure how many times Ross shouted that instruction down below. Carlo is feeding the crew bacon sandwiches (I munched mine in my bunk before attempting sleep). The boat was in motion and waves were picking up.
You hear us throw out arcane jibberish like "We swapped out of the A2 to the A5" or "we are running double headed with storm jib and the kite" and you wonder what the heck is being talking about? Me too.
All of these boats have a sail that sits behind the mast, on top of t he boom and is called the main sail. On some boats that is in the shape of a triangle, on others it looks more like a trapezoid or even rectangle and are sometime referred to as "square tops". I know... creative genius lives in this sport.
After a blistering first three days the last 48 hours have been a different story, testing the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the crew on Nomad IV.
It all started on Sunday morning when the boat suffered full hydraulic system failure. For Nomad this is a major system powering everything from the winches, to the captive ram mainsheet, to the water ballast. Initially heads went down as the line-honours race with Lucky seemed to be over, but as always with ocean sailors, soon there was a barrage of ideas to deal with each situation, while the French brains of Captain Jacques and Francois try to find the fault and a solution.
The first priority was to be able to trim the mainsheet, so a secondary line was attached to the back of the boom and to the hydraulically adjusted traveler, which has now also been by-passed. Blocks then create the 2:1 purchase system and then it goes to the leeward runner winch, which we can operate with a winch handle, as we can with all of the winches onboard, just very slowly by comparison.
Next was how to change our sails as the windspeed and direction dictates. Fortunately all except our running spinnaker are furling sails, where we can furl and unfurl manually, apart from our biggest jib which is on the hydraulic furling headstay with no manual backup. So instead of taking the furling line to the winch we now utilize the ‘chain gang’ approach and use the full crew lined up to pull the rope, along with a significant course alteration downwind to reduce the effort.
Of course we still have to get any of our 3 spinnakers up and down. In one way we are lucky that the halyard is a 2:1 purchase as the weight of the sail (up to 175kg) is halved, but the height of the sail @ 43 meters is doubled in the length of rope to be pulled in every hoist to almost 90m. Again the whole crew is arranged in a ‘chain gang’ line-up to facilitate the hoist. Obviously when the crew signed up to the Transatlantic race on this state of the art high performance Superyacht, they were not expecting the extreme physical exertion, but at least with our luxurious cabins and fantastic food they are well rested and fed.
The last but very important problem to solve was how to get water into the ballast tanks to give the boat added stability when the wind increases or when reaching. This is critical on Nomad where the bulb on the keel is very light for the size of boat.
A range of ideas were put forward with the best being to fill the tanks via the on deck air & overflow vents with the boat firehose, however before this was completed successfully, a simplier solution of filling the leeward tanks by venturi was proposed, where we then have to tack off course to gravity transfer the water to the other side and then tack back, giving water in the now windward tanks. We are hoping not to have to do this too often, as heading back to South America this morning wasn’t helping our line-honours challenge! Luckily we can drain them with gravity when required.
While I have been writing we have the bad news that the hydraulics is a terminal failure which we cannot fix before the finish, but this will not affect our determination or effort to try and catch the 25 miles on ‘Lucky’ for line honours victory and as Clarke Murphy has already stated ‘never give up’!
had a bit more wind.Cracking along at a steady 12-18 knots under the main
with one reef and the gennaker. clouded over later on and had to reduce
sail to the jib as the bow buried itself a couple of
Today's boat report from navigator Miles Seddon
Today has beeen all about staying in the best pressure whilst trying to make our way through the best of the gulf stream.
We have had 24hrs of great sailng, with flat seas and steady breeze, making for above forecasted boat speeds.
Its important that we rest as much as possible out here, especially in these calm seas, knowing that after the ice gate the wind and sea state should increase, giving us a much more adrenaline fueled ride to the finish.
Photo of the Day: Pedro putting in some hard hours in the galley.
The day before yesterday (Saturday, July 4) was one of my most memorable days of sailing ever. Zach and I started our watch at 0600 surfing the waves in between 18 and 23 knots of wind and under an a lot of sails (A4, spin staysail, main with one reef, mizzen jib and a mizzen); it was a challenge to keep the boat under control, and with every roll it felt like Dorade was going to round up or do a Chinese gybe, but I knew she would keep tracking straight, as I have done this many times onboard. Throughout the morning, the wind and waves slowly built, as did our boat speed going down them. Before long, we found ourselves hurtling down a wave at over 18 knots, in 27 knots of wind and decided it was time take down some of the sails. Dorade is a piece of maritime history that has defined the sport, so although it is a bit stressful to be pushing it so hard, it was at the same time extremely exhilarating. During the afternoon the wind increased even more, and we saw gusts of over 40 knots and waves over 18 feet, which on a little boat like Dorade is not too comfortable.
By the end of the day, our bodies were aching from fighting the waves and our hands had blisters from wrestling the tiller, but luckily the wind had eased back into the teens and we could start to relax a little. The glass of wine at cocktail hour tasted even better than usual.
Yesterday (Sunday, July 5), was a lighter day, and a lot of concentration was required to keep the boat moving. Almost every watch required the entire crew on deck for spinnaker peels and sail changes. We managed to dry some clothes and get the boat back in order. Any spare time was used to catch up on sleep. On the positive side, we gained around twenty miles on the boats ahead of us who were parked in the light breeze for a few hours.
This morning (Monday, July 6), we spent a few hours sailing through another front, with steady 40-knot breeze, and had to put three reefs in the sail (for the first time ever) and sail the boat upwind in order to get out of it quickly. Driving the boat and maintaining boat speed in the waves was tricky without pressing her over too much, but as I write now the wind has shifted and we have our sheets cracked, reaching at over 9 knots.
We have some leaks below and our beds are wet and boots full of water. At times we wonder why we do this, but in the same breath we are having a blast. Right now, everybody is laughing on deck and Terry is cooking up a storm in the galley. Freeze-dry food never tasted so good. Today will be another long day with more wind in the forecast.
From: Boat Captain Ben Galloway
For today's update I thought I would tell you how life goes while you are racing sailboats.
First, I got up early and spoke to James Boyd from the Daily Sail. He is a journalist who writes for the race as well as some print mags. Mike and I both chatted with him for a while. After, we cleaned the boat. It gets pretty nasty with 2 wet, smelly guys on board for 4 days. We sponged all the water up and then sprayed clorox clean up all over. Then we used some Febreeze to make it smell pretty. In doing that, I had to crawl into the rudder compartment to check for water. Our auto pilot rams are back there and it would be bad if they got wet. While I was back there I took a picture out of our escape hatch while we were going about 15 kts.
After the house cleaning, we got back to the sailing. we put the spinnaker back up, it had been blowing around 30 kts in the night so we took it down. Once we got that done, Mike took a nap and I drove the boat. I got a good shot of the Toothface kite.
We have been flying today (Sunday). We are fighting some weird tide, so the numbers on the tracker may not look like it but, wow! I got a shot of us doing 22 kts of boat speed in 23 kts of wind. Top speed so far today and for the trip is 26.2! That's faster than the speed limit on the street I live on. Anyway, it's been sunny and windy all day. We are pretty happy as well as it looks like we stole back second place from Dragon. Long way to go yet, but we will take what we can get.
Mike & Rob TF2
Lat 40 04.551n
Lon 046 10,633w
True Wind Direction 221 degrees true, and it has come forward by about
20 degrees in the past few hours
True Wind Speed 19 knots, gusts to 22
BSP at 9 to 10 knots
Speed over ground getting both pushed south and a bit of a push forward by a bight in either the Labrador or Gulf Stream currents.
Hard to tell out here.
Wave state is 3 foot rollers
We had 24 continuous hours of A2 Kite surfing out here today, in what turned into a really nice run. We were pushing it very deep in an effort to make some ground to the north, which meant we had to hand steer much of the time, but this is the fun type of hand steering. It was other wise an uneventful day.
At the moment, we are in a weird between state. The wind pushing its way into the low 20s makes it too difficult to continue on with the A2, since we are prone to wiping out when a wave skews the bow around. When you are running this deep, 20 is almost zero apparent knots, until you round up. Then you are reminded about how much wind 20 knots is all about. This kite needs to last a while, and it would have been economically unwise to continue on with it. Plus, both the NOAA and Canadian GRIB files are calling for as much as 30 knots in the next few hours here, so we down shifted to the A5 chicken kite. She is doing fine, but it has cost us a couple of knots of boat speed while we wait for the real weather.
The only other note is that our tracker has a short and drained its battery. We are working on a plan B with the NYYC, and should have some manual updates happening to the YB tracker soon. It just so happens that I had a SPOT tracker on board.
Time to collect some sleep before the blow.
The great weather was a welcome respite for the crew and our yacht. It was an unexpected treat and we made the most of it. We are glad to be leaving the Gulf Stream and its maddeningly unpredictable currents and frequent squalls. But, the respite is going to be short lived.
We are working to get ourselves north to hook up with the southern edge of a big low pressure system moving our way. Yes, you read that right, we are intentionally sailing towards bad weather. This weather feature is going to dominate most of what is left of the race. We are going to play a bit of chicken with it, getting as close as we can to its southern side to pick up and ride the strong southwesterly winds it should provide. The chicken part is not getting so close that the ride will be miserable. Either way the fair weather we so enjoyed today is going to end.