We finally made some gains

Position: 44,14.94N , 43,52.24W

Speed: 15 knots, Course: 64 deg.

A pretty good day for the Black Pearl. We finally made some gains on Brasil1 and stretched bit on ABN2. The weather has been a “rich gets richer” scenario for the past few days but today everyone had a chance to make some gains. We all gybed a couple of times and repositioned ourselves so there were opportunities. This afternoon we all picked out slots for dealing with a high pressure ridge tonight. The safer route was also the longer route. We are in the middle as usually with Brasil lining up to be the closest to the light wind zone and ABN1 and Ericsson being the furthest and therefore safest.

We got a large piece of lumber stuck on our keel this morning so we had to drop the spinnaker, stop and back down in 22 knots of wind. It takes a while to recover with the right spinnaker back up and everything back to normal. We have gotten pretty good at backing down and figure that they only cost us about 2 miles. But it is amazing that we could hit a 2×2 in the middle of the ocean, hit it right in the middle of its 4 foot length, fold it in half around the keel and not have it come off.

Today we also got some speed up, real speed, first time since round the Horn really. We hit 26 knots and had the water rushing do the deck most of the afternoon. The waves were not very large but it really put a smile on everyone’s face to b going over 10 knots. I mean hear we are not quite half ay across the Atlantic and it is coming up on day 6.

Tonight we are back into some lighter winds as we approach a small high pressure ridge, we should get past that by tomorrow afternoon ad then the wind will ramp up and be 25-35 for Thursday and Friday. With any luck we will arrive in Portsmouth some time late Saturday night.

Right now we are 160 miles south-south east of Flemish Cap, a position made famous in the film “Perfect Storm”. It is a long way from Gloucester, Massachusetts, especially in a storm!

The sea temp is 16C so it is quite civil both on deck and below. We had sun all day today which was a treat. Pretty fun to be ripping along at 25 knots on a beautiful, sunny day, so many miles from no where.

A Norwegian ship was on a converging course with us for several miles this afternoon. I rang up the bridge on VHF16 and talked to them about our impending intersecting course. They were very nice to us an we passed in front without any problem. I had nice chat with the Captain. The ship was from Bergen ad the captain was intimately familiar with the race and commented on our speed; we were doing about 20 knots average at the time. They had delivered a load of Norwegian crude to New Orleans and were on their way back. Their course was up over the top of Scotland and into Bergen.

The wind is really dropping as I write this; down to 8 knots. Loosing the wind is always an anxious time. It should b dropping for all, except maybe Movistar who is in a different weather system.

That’s it for today. I m very tired right now and heading for sleep.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

Update 2 – We had a tough break a few hours ago

Position: 46,2.26N , 39,21.23W

Speed: 17 knots, Course: 35 deg.

We had a tough break a few hours ago. Our big mast head running spinnaker tore in half. There was no flogging or luffing, it just parted. It was blowing about 24 knots at the time. So now we have a smaller reaching sail on and we are sailing a higher angle to try to keep our speed up. This is going to cost us a bit for sure. How much depends on what the wind does over the next 6 hours while Justin Ferris and Dirk de Ridder repair the sail with our onboard sewing machine. I hope the wind comes up another couple of knots then we can put the fractional spinnaker on and be just fine.

Other than that, we ere having a good day, reeling in Brasil1 to 11 miles from the 40 mile lead they had on us yesterday. The wind has come up nicely today and we are making good miles toward England finally. It has been a very slow leg so far. It looks like we will do the first half of the leg in 6 days and the second half in about 3.5 days.

The general plan now is to sail to the northeast on port tack tonight then gybe tomorrow morning onto starboard and head east with southwesterly winds coming from a low pressure that is catching up to us. Then the wind really builds..maybe to 40 knots or more. The router is calling for gybes every 8 hours so that will be interesting to see how we decide to manage that. Do we just go straight or do we attempt the maneuvers? Naturally, the router wants us to gybe in the night.

So for now it is a bit of anxiety; waiting for the guys to finish the repair of the spinnaker and praying for the wind to come up so it doesn’t matter.

PC

Pirates of the Caribbean

We are setting some sort of record

Position: 41,59.6N , 51,35.36W

Speed: 10 knots, Course: 50 deg.

We are setting some sort of record for the fewest miles achieved in 5 days in these Volvo 70’s. We are currently 1023 miles from New York and we have been sailing for 4.5 days.

All day Monday was spent trying to get around the high pressure cell. The wind was very light and variable and it was a challenging day. Then in the late afternoon the wind finally built to 10 knots and we thought we were out of there. Not so fast, the wind has just died again and lifted us above course.

We are rationing our food as we only brought food for 9 days on this trip. We should be ok with diesel Juggy says so we should be able to keep the instruments going.

We had some nice dolphin playing with us today. They were fishing when we came up on them and then they came by for a visit.

ABN1 has sailed a very smart leg so far. I always say it doesn’t matter where they go but this time they definitely figured out the weather better than the rest of us. This is the type of weather scenario where the rich get richer for the next couple of days so ABN1 and Ericsson should be in good shape. We are trying to stay in touch with Brasil so we can try to make move on them near the end of the leg.

Apart from the wind, the weather has improved greatly in the last 40 hours. No more fog and the air temp is up to 9C. The sea is fairly smooth and we are running with a masthead gennaker. Really pretty nice conditions for the north Atlantic.

PC

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirate Update-Mothers Day Edition

Position: 43,25.24N , 60,53.78W

Speed: 11 knots, Course: 127 deg.

Dear Mom,

Hope you have a great day and that your husband takes you out to lunch or dinner. Sorry I can’t be there to take you out myself.

I wonder if 47 years ago seems like yesterday to you? I can remember very vividly the days that Danny and Allie were born; 17 years ago. Seems like yesterday when you were there with Icka and me in the hospital in San Diego. I guess the moral is; “Time flies so enjoy it.”

We are slogging our way along, upwind, not making many miles in these first four days. It has been very cold, foggy, and generally miserable weather here off the north east coast. We finally got a bit of a wind shift to the left and are heading south east and getting away from the continent.

In the last 24 hours, the fleet has been spent tacking back and forth, reshuffling positions and setting up for a “lane” to take around a high pressure system that is building over Newfoundland. The choice of what “lane” to take is not easy. The closer you go to the high,-“inside lane” the shorter course you sail but you have less wind. The “further away from the center-“outside lane”-the longer course you sail but with more wind. Finding the right compromise is difficult. As you can see from the sked, Brasil is set up more to the inside (north in this case) while ABN1 and Ericsson are set up on the outside (south). The fleet will be making a 40 degree let turn over the next two days. We are in the middle so there is a good chance we won’t be first and we won’t be last in dealing with this feature.

There will be many features to deal with on this leg, many more opportunities to make gains and loses. The key is not to make any big losses early that could be impossible to recover from.

The sea is relatively smooth so the boat is not pounding as much today as yesterday. I am fairly anxious when the boat is pounding a lot because I keep wondering what will break. I guess I would rather have a slow leg with less risk of breaking and that is what it looks like we are going to have. I don’t think we will finish before the 21st, so that would be 11 days..pretty slow really.

I had hoped to come home from the Portsmouth stopover but I doubt that will be possible now with how slow the race is going. I’ll keep you posted.

Love Paul

Happy Mothers Day to all Pirate moms!

It is pretty hard to type tonight so I’ll keep this one short

Position: 42,35.36N , 66,32.8W

Speed: 11 knots, Course: 60 deg.

The breeze has filled in to 25-30 knots and we are slamming around a bit out here. We went over two shallow banks; one off Nantucket and one off Maine called George’s Bank. So it has been rough but the conditions are supposed to moderate in the morning. We are heading for the southwest tip of Nova Scotia which is just 65 miles away.

We got a second fish of some kind stuck on the keel early Friday morning so we had to back down again to clear the fish. We are getting pretty good at catching fish with smooth, blunt, instruments.

We had some very dense fog today; beyond “Pea Soup” it was “Clam Chowder”. At times it was difficult to see the bow. The fog has lifted now so we have a bit of visibility which is nice at night.

Brasil1 is sailing fast so far on this leg. Ericsson is just behind us and we can see their masthead light. Looks to me like ABN Amro One is taking it very easy on this leg. They probably wan to be very conservative on this leg and will turn on the speed when we go downwind or reaching.

It is pretty hard to type tonight so I’ll keep this one short.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

After the great start, we had a few issues.

Position: 40,1.37N , 72,17.17W

Speed: 12 knots, Course: 69 deg.

After the great start, we had a few issues. Our wind instruments have been acting up again so Juggy has gone up the mast three times and change “wands”. A wand is the carbon fiber stick that attaches to the top of the mast and contains the wind instruments. By changing the wand we have found one that is working properly and giving us reliable information.

After that, we got a small shark stuck on the rudder. So we had to stop and back down.

All seems good now and we are making some gains on Brasil, Brunel and ABN2 who are all within 2 miles of us.

The wind has lifted much more than forecast so we are close reaching towards Nantucket on starboard tack. The seas are fairly smooth still, the wind speed about 20 knots from 135 and we are making 12.5.The latest weather forecast say that the winds will continue increasing tomorrow to 25-30 knots and start shifting back to the left to 100.

PC

Pirates of the Caribbean

It doesn’t get any better than that!

Position: 40,18.68N , 73,39.87W

Speed: 10 knots, Course: 128 deg.

It doesn’t get any better than that! At 1300, the Black Pearl hit the starting line clear ahead of her opponents and with more speed quickly stretched out to a 15 boat length lead. We lead the fleet out past the Statue of Liberty and under the Verrazano Bridge. What a way to leave the USA for the Pirates of the Caribbean. We are the only American boat in the Volvo Ocean Race and we have had a fantastic three weeks in the USA. Today’s start was the icing on the cake.

It is 3 hours since the start and ABN 1 has already passed us. We are sailing upwind in 14 knots of wind. We are in second place with Brunel just to leeward in third, followed by Brasil, Ericsson and ABN2. I am not sure how the sked will rank us as we are on the wind sailing to the southeast and the course to the UK is more like 060.

Our routing has us sailing on port tack for about 6 hours while the wind shifts right 30 degrees and builds to 25 knots ahead of a low system coming out of the Chesapeake. Then we will be tacking onto starboard and probably holding that for 36 hours. We will get close to Nova Scotia on Saturday.

We are settling in for what will be a long and cold 10 days. It will get rough later tonight and all day tomorrow, tomorrow night and the moderating Saturday afternoon. We will be focused on keeping the boat in one piece if it gets real rough.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

New York Yacht Club Members give Pirates standing ovation

10 May

Paul Cayard and his Pirate crew delighted members of the New York Yacht Club this evening with a presentation on the Volvo Ocean Race. More than 200 members turned out to meet the Pirates and learn about their adventures as they race around the world. Commodores Hinman and Townsend presented Skipper Paul Cayard with a NYYC scroll in recognition of his achievements in sailing.

New York City

It was a long night Monday night but we finally sailed under the Verrazano Bridge and into New York Harbor at 0600 Tuesday morning to finish in second place for leg 6. This is yet another solid performance for the crew of the Black Pearl and moves Pirates of the Caribbean up the rankings to second place over all. It was especially meaningful to me to have this good result here in the USA!

Movistar and Pirates were neck and neck the whole way up the Jersey shore on Monday. Ericsson was about 3 miles behind and Brasil1 another 2 behind that.

That was a race. When the wind died nearing New York Harbor, the four of us compressed. At one point for about an hour, we were slating with no wind at all. We got lucky and caught a breath of air and legged out to a 10 minute lead on the other three at Ambrose Light – the entrance buoy for New York.

Movistar, Brasil1 and Ericsson were all within one minute at the light.

Brasil1 being just behind the other two, cut over a bank on the way in the harbor. This was very risky but it shot them ahead of Moivstar and Ericsson for a third on the leg. Ericsson finished fourth and Movistar fifth, all four of us with a bout 12 minutes. I felt for Movistar as they deserved to be third on the leg but we all knew coming into these harbors is risky because anything can happen with so much current and fluky winds.

The race is really between everyone other than ABN Amro One. They are so fast that it does not matter where they go or if they have a problem for a period of time.

It is strange; they are out there but I don’t really make any tactics or strategy with them in mind. They were five miles behind us half way down the Chesapeake Bay. That is because it was very light winds – under 6 knots and they are very slow in that condition. With a minimum of steady conditions over 10 knots of wind, they are 5-10% faster than anyone else in the fleet.

The ended up winning the leg by 20 miles by just steaming away up the Jersey shoreline. The rest of us are having a good race.

The 40 hour race from Annapolis to New York was a tough one. Going upwind in 40 knots of wind is tough in any boat but these boats really pound and it seems like something is going to give. Then the fact that we were sailing up along the New Jersey shore line meant that we were taking every hour and that mean “stacking”. Stacking is taking everything on the boats; sails 1500 pounds, food 200 pounds, spares 500 pounds, clothes 50 pounds, and moving it from one side to the other while the boat is bucking like a bronco and healing at 25 degrees and someone is dumping buckets of water on you.

That is “Stacking”. Some of the crew are suffering from forearm muscle problems from all the lugging.

The first thing we did upon arriving in New York, was to eat a big breakfast. Then a shower and four hour nap. We met at 1400 to go over our work list and get into it. New York is a “Pit Stop”. Under the Volvo Ocean Race rules, no shore team can help with maintenance, cleaning or even set foot on the boat, while in a “Pit Stop” port. If a team does have a non crew member onboard, she will take a two hour penalty applied to the restart tomorrow.

Movistar has elected to take the two hour penalty. They had a broken winch part that they probably did not have a spare of onboard. Movistar also took the two hour penalty in Wellington. At that time, the weather was such that she got brought up to the fleet within two days as those ahead had less favorable conditions. So, there is a strategic decision to be made in consort with your meteorologist. We don’t have anything so major to fix that it requires the shore team. ABN Amro One made a proposal in Annapolis to allow the shore teams onboard to “clean the boats”. That got shot down as everyone else thought they could handle cleaning the inside of the boat after just 40 hours of sailing.

Today we are taking Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger for a sail. Bob is a sailor himself, owning a Hinkley 52. Tonight the crew is going to the New York Yacht Club, Pirates host club for the New York stopover, where I will make a presentation about the Volvo Ocean Race and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Tomorrow, Leg 7 starts at 1300. The forecast is not good – 20 knots from the east with rain. Not good if you are trying to go east.

Get some rest, it is going to be another tough one.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

13 Miles from Ambrose Light

Position: 40,13.87N , 73,51.14W

Speed: 7 knots, Course: 8 deg.

We are 13 miles from Ambrose light and then there is another 24 miles from there to North Cove Harbor in Manhattan. The wind has lightened to 7 knots and will probably drop more. After a very tough couple of days, the end looks like it will be difficult as well, just for a different reason – lack of wind.

We are in second place just in front of Movistar. Ericsson is third and Brasil1 close behind them in fourth. The four of us will probably end up in a light air battle, drifting into the finish line sometime just after day break.

So far it has been a good leg for the Pirates, hopefully it will end that way.

We lost our wind instruments yesterday but now that the sea is relatively flat, Juggy went up the mast and put in our spare “wand”. We have sailed with it before so it is fairly well calibrated. Very nice to have the instruments back. It is like someone just turned the lights on. Very good job by Jules and Juggy.

This stop over is going to seem very short. We will be cramming sleep into every opportunity. Thursday morning will be here very soon. The forecast we have at this time looks like easterlies at first then going to the South with the onset of a new low pressure system.

We just got a little puff so we are moving again. Just hoping it holds.

PC

Pirates of the Caribbean