Seahorse January 2006

We are close to completing our first leg of this Volvo Ocean Race. It hasn’t been without incident. We have broken the vang off the mast, hit an object in the water which damaged our rudder, and incurred some damage to our keel support structure. At this point, some 4000 miles into the leg, we are doing something between racing and delivering the boat to Melbourne.

The first thing to mention, appropriately at this time, is that it is very difficult to type onboard these new Volvo 70’s. The motion is so violent that typing on a key board is a two step forward one step back exercise. The mouse? Good luck!!

The most important ramification of this violence is the loading on the keel structure. So far three boats have had some type of keel failure. Currently we are experiencing some delamination of taping which holds our aft keel bulkhead to the boat. I think we will be ok and make it to Melbourne, but we have had to throttle back a bit in order to get some comfort in that conclusion.

Ericsson had a keel ram fork fail and is doing the leg to Melbourne by ship. Movistar had a failure of the keel ram structure on leg on and had to be shipped to Cape Town and we also, had a part of the keel fairing system fail on Leg 1and ended up flying the boat to Cape Town thanks to our partner, Pescanova.

So the question is; are these just teething problems of a new class or are they symptoms of a flawed concept. I will not answer the question but I will give you a few facts that will help you come to your own conclusion.

1. This is the first generation of this class and the boat the sailed the longest, ABN2, was launched 9 months prior to the start and about half of her time was spent in boat yards making repairs to her keel system. In previous Volvo Ocean Races, the competitors have had the benefit of older generation boats to go to school on before preparing their new race boats.

2. The Volvo 70 rule allows the longitudinal axis of rotation of the keel to be 150 mm up from the bottom of the hulls’ surface. This gains righting moment but adds complications to fairing and sealing that area. It creates something known as the “fish tank” which is a waterproof box in which the keel head meets the rams and below are the keel pins or axis of the keel for canting.

3. The Volvo 70′ have about 18 inches of total rocker of their length.

4. The Volvo 70’s are very flat in section as they only displace 14 tons.

When I decided to become involved with Pirates of the Caribbeaan as the skipper, I did think about canting keels and consider that it was fairly new technology. However, the Open 60’s have been using carting keels for more than 10 years and now there are new, large, boats like Morning Glory and Pyewacket which have successfully used carting keel technology. However, with ten crew, in large open ocean waves, I suppose it is possible we are pushing these boats harder than the their systems get pushed.

That brings up another subject which is, should we sail these things at a certain percentage of their capacity? The answer is yes, we have to. In fact, we throttled back onboard the Black Pearl during the first night of sailing on leg 2 and survived the night which as very rough, and Brasil and Ericsson did not.

I don’t know what is going on in all the internet forums as I have no access to that at this time but I imagine there is plenty of discussion about this issue.

On the official side, Volvo is organizing a meeting of team and designers in Melbourne to discuss these issues and how best to resolve them for the future. It is good that Volvo are taking a proactive leadership role in this.

Apart from the problems, the boats are a lot of fun to sail, very fast, and a good challenge for a 10 man crew. I am finding that I love it out here more than I remembered from 1997. I like it when Curtis or Juggy need a hand on the bow or he we have to stack the sails. I enjoy battling as a team and out here there are plenty of battles to fight. That is what I like about this race, the diversity of the roles..everyone does everything. The whole weather analysis and routing game is very interesting to me and now I feel fully up to speed with all the software we use for that. Missing out on leg 1 was a big setback for the Pirates, not only for the points but for the calibration of the team and our systems. We are getting sorted that front now.

I am damp pretty much the whole time but that hasn’t taken the enjoyment out of it for me yet.

Charging ahead toward Melbourne at 23.5 knots average at this hour! 1900 miles to go.

Position: 40,24.5S , 113,11.98E

Speed: 10 knots, Course: 347 deg.

We are presently 380 miles from the southwestern tip of Australia. It seems a trivial feat now that the winds are light and we have gained more confidence in our situation but 72 hours ago we were in a “preservation of the yacht” mode and now we are racing again.

The whole fleet has compressed as the leaders entered a high pressure bubble first and you may have seen on the 10:00 position report that ABN2 had taken

the lead. I think this will be short lived because ABN 1 had invested in the north and west and should have a bit more pressure and a better angle as we exit the high pressure bubble.

Still, the fleet will be much more compact as we round Eclipse Island tomorrow and head east for the 1300 mile leg to Melbourne. The initial wind should be about 20 knots from the East so we will be going upwind and it will be fairly bumpy. We will have to judge the conditions carefully to make sure we don’t cause further damage that could keep us from getting to Melbourne.

Today’s conditions-light winds and sunshine- were perfect for a big maintenance day onboard. Craig and Curtis glued the boom-vang bracket back electronics, we dried out the entire boat, put away some of the cold weather clothes, etc. Just like at home, you have to clean up your house every once in a while.

Today was chocolate bar day, a day that comes around only one in every 5 days. Usually this puts everyone in a good mood and it did today for all but one person..Erle Williams. Someone stole Erle’s chocolate bar. So we formed a grand jury to investigate the matter. The panel interviewed witnesses and suspects. In the end the conclusion of the jury was that there was insufficient evidence to convict any of the Pirates of stealing and that the more likely truth was that the person who packed the chocolate bars only packed 9. The identity of that person was not immediately


Humor is an important part of any society. We are getting along well and this is after all our first leg of racing together. It is a long way around the world in the best of circumstances so it is important to have a cohesive unit onboard.

Night is approaching now and it will be light wind evening which sounds nice but in fat is fairly difficult as you don’t have enough pressure and speed to give the boat of lot of directional stability so helming the boat requires a lot of concentration.

I hope all the shore teams have a nice weekend this weekend as once the boats hit Melbourne I think there will be serious work going on in all


Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

Well, it is Saturday the 14th where we are and the crew are all talking about how the keel “made it”. Some of my guys are pretty concerned. I am

starting to be more comfortable with the advice that we are receiving from our designers that our damage does not affect the critical elements of the

keel structure.

We are up to about 90% of full speed. We should compress into the lead three boats starting tomorrow as they reach lighter winds. The out look for

after we round eclipse Island is for east winds around 20 knots so he course will be up wind. We will have to see how comfortable we are in those

conditions when we get there.

It is starting to smell like a kennel onboard. There is no time when you can go on deck and not get wet pretty much to the skin so there are a lot of

wet clothes and socks laying around that are starting to smell pretty bad.

Our Real Expedition freeze dried food is still pleasing everyone so that is a good sign. Usually everyone gets pretty fed up with the food whatever it

is after two weeks. We are losing weight through, at least I am. All thoserolls that I had justified as necessary stores for three weeks at sea are

finally shedding themselves.

That is all for now.



2300 UTC

Another 12 hours on, we have had another round of phone calls and information exchange with the designers of our boat. We have damage to

secondary support structure in the area of the keel. That means that the main structure is integral but the bits that bond it to the boat have been

compromised, probably only slightly.

I hope and assume that assessment is correct. Again, we won’t really know until we get the boat hauled out.

My goals now are to get the boat and crew to the dock in Melbourne safely and without incurring any more damage, especially serious damage that could

keep us out of the net leg.

Next goal is to do as well as we can in this leg. The reality is that the two ABN’s are going quite well and with another two days of power reaching

they will be further ahead. So what is at play here is third place. It doesn’t make sense to me to break the boat for one place.

So, we will continue to sail at about 85% of full speed. This seems to be a speed that does not cause the severely violent landings and slamming that have caused what damage we do have.

We have maintained the watch system as usual and are doing regular maintenance of the boat. We have also affected some repairs in the area of

the damage, mainly to slow the water ingress.

All is well onboard. The crew are upbeat.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

Last evening at 1845 the crew of the Black Pearl noticed cracks in the area of it keel support structure. Water was coming into the boat from those cracks and still is. The rate of water flow is manageable at this time.

Sail was immediately reduced. Photos and video of the cracks were recorded and sent to the designer of the boat.

Several hours were spent discussing this issue with the designers of the boat. A certain level of comfort was achieved and we proceeded, with reduced sail, east at 12 knots through the night.

This morning we have reviewed the drawings of how this area was designed. It is not clear to us if this is structural damage or superficial. The fact that water is coming into the boat is not reassuring. We have a made a new video and photos in the daylight, and sent them off to the designers.

We have run tests with 0, 20 and 40 degrees of cant while inspecting the area. 40 degrees is definitely alarming. The cracks open and close as the loads change and the water flow is more and less accordingly. 20 degrees seems tolerable.

It is not clear to us, and probably will never be clear to us or anyone, how serious this damage is until we reach land. We simply can’t properly inspect the area out here.

On the weather side, the best winds to help us make the progress toward Australia are during the next 30 hours. We currently have winds from the northwest. Eventually, we will fall “off the back” of this system and be hit with less favorable winds from southeast. There is danger in being out here for long time.

Therefore, considering all of the above, I have decided to run the boat up to 80% of full speed at this time, with a maximum of 20 degree of cant, to make as much progress as reasonably possible in these conditions.

Naturally we are taking all precautions necessary for any eventuality.

In general, all is well and stable onboard the Black Pearl.

Paul Cayard – skipper

Position: 41,22.44S , 75,3.69E

Speed: 25 knots, Course: 105 deg.

Sorry for not writing a report yesterday. It was a long hard day pushing to get every ounce of speed out of the boat heading for the scorings gate. I started to write my report last night and then there was a very loud bang. I jumped up out of the nav station fearing the worst – the keel. But word came back from on deck that it was the boom vang. It’s attachment at the mast had ripped off. The boom vang is used to apply down pressure on the boom when reaching. So we have jury rigged up something which is ok but not 100%. The guys are working on a plan to make a better solution when the wind drops a bit.

We have been flat out flying since the black hole ate us up a few nights ago and ABNAMRO TWO sailed right around us, literally in sight of us, while we slatted with no wind. Up until that point, the race was going well and we were enjoying it. Then all of a sudden all our hard work over the previous 4 days, and the associated gains, were thrown out the window. A little frustrating to say the least. Then the wind filled from behind which almost let Movistar pass us at the scoring waypoint. We had a sweet little sail set for the last 150 miles into the scoring gate and that popped us out in front for a third at that point.

On the run just before the scoring gate, we had the longest run, 140 miles in six hours, that is 560 miles/day pace. The boat is slamming downwind very violently. No one can sleep when it is this rough. As you go from 25 to 30 knots of boat speed, the keel hums to a higher and higher pitch. Then you feel the boat un-weigh itself, you go a bit weightless like in an airplane sometimes and you just cringe in your bunk as you know the bottom of the wave is coming. Sometimes it is just a big snowplow and rapid deceleration which makes you hold onto your bunk so you don’t slide forward on top of the guy in front of you. Those are the ones which create 2 feet of whitewater rolling down the deck. Other times we find the bottom by doing a violent belly flop which shutters and send vibrations throughout the boat. I am sure the other boats are doing the same because they are going as fast as we are. It is not hard to spend time wondering how long these boats can take this type of punishment. Typing and using the cursor is very hard. A lot of spell check and re-typing is needed. Kind of a two steps forward – one back exercise.

This leg is scored in three places, 70East, Eclipse Island, and the finish. The first two together are of the same value as the finish in Melbourne. ABN AMRO ONE after taking off in their own breeze a few nights ago and leaving us to deal with a decaying cold front for two days, had to pay back a bit of her lead last night to get in front of the three of us as we have been ripping along on the front side of this new low pressure system.

A few nights ago we hit something in the water. It put a gouge in our rudder about 1.5 meters down from the hull. Structurally it is fine just got a small bite taken out.

Today was a big day for me, I went for THE change. Today was THE day on this trip when I would put on my ONE change of thermal underwear or “base layer”. I took a shower by using baby wipes and then put on the crispy new clothes. Makes you feel like a new person!

Then one hour later, after reviewing the latest weather and position report with Jules, I decided we needed a bigger sail up so I went up on deck and went on the bow to help Juggy Clougher make the change. So much for the new clothes – soaked.

That is what I like about this race, struggling together to achieve something like a sail change in very adverse conditions – 30 knots of wind, cold water, 2 feet of water coming down the deck. It is such a struggle just to get the sail up to the bow, undoing the stack, pulling off the heavy sails that are on top of the one you want, pulling the one you want out of the stack of wet heavy sails, then putting the stack back in order and cinching it down so that the waves which are rolling down the deck don’t wash your inventory overboard, then dragging the new sail up to the bow and tying it forward so it doesn’t wash aft. Then you begin the process of hanking the sail on and actually changing. Then you take down the one that is up. In the end it is like doing to a hard aerobic work out of an hour. That is what is special and different about this race. I never go on the bow in the America’s Cup and Juggy Clougher never gets to steer in the America’s Cup.

Then after that, Curtis Blewett and I wrestled with a heavy stack of wet sails to reset them as they tend to slide inboard with waves hitting them at 30 knots regularly. Then I drove the boat for 1.5 hours. Pretty fun sailing at 30 knots and surfing the big open ocean waves. We shot some video footage this morning of the happenings on deck…truly wild sailing, much more so that on the 60’s in the past.

All these things that we do out here are thing of great memories that I will all enjoy for the rest of my life. That is why I am doing it again. I am enjoying reliving the experiences of 1997-1998 rather than just talking about them. They will always be there for me but now I am making some more.

This time it has all been pretty mild as we are so far north that the water temp has always been in the high teens. The crew are well, the boat is basically in good shape. This weather system will take us a long way to Eclipse Island at high speeds although we have seen the maximum winds which peaked at 36 knots.

Wow. If you are still reading this I am impressed. I guess I made up for missing one yesterday.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

Position: 39,14.15S , 59,24.9E

Speed: 7 knots, Course: 32 deg.

We hit the wall. We have hit light air and are watching the others sail up to us. We are still being tormented by the old cold front that we fell off the back of about 48 hours ago. This is the same front that ABN AMRO ONE managed to stay on due to their 30 mile lead on us at the time. That 30 miles lead has since turned into 300 miles as they rode the front.

We had southerly winds during the day today and had nice distance runs only changing sails twice and keeping the boat moving fast. We stretched our lead on movistar and ABN AMRO TWO. Now, as the tree of us approach the remnants of the disintegrating cold front, we have slowed first. The routing software has been telling us for two days that we are going to be able to penetrate the front and get the northwesterlies on the other side.

However, none of these predictions has panned out so far.

We just have to keep trying to sail north-northeast and work our way to the north-westerlies. My guess is that this won’t happen and we will just sit here until some new wind fills.

This would not be so bad except that the new wind that is coming from behind. So this will pick up Movistar and bring them up to us and ABN AMRO TWO.

This will make it a three boat scramble for the points at the scoring gate when 12 hours ago we were feeling pretty comfortably in second place. As frustrating as it is, I suppose it could be worse.

There is a very confused sea out here from the southerly that we sailed in for the past 30 hours and the strong northwest winds that have been here for the past few days. This makes for tough sailing in only 5 knots of wind and of course it is now dark too.

Other than that life is pretty good out here. It has rained again most of the day as we are stuck in this front. The water temperature is quite warm a 18.6 so the air temperature is very mild. These ice waypoints that we have to honor are keeping us safe but it has changed this leg pretty significantly. This leg 2 used to be one of the defining legs of the Round the World race. We have been out here a week and haven’t gotten our gloves on yet.

I washed my hair today in a rain squall. That felt pretty nice. I used too much dish soap though so I will be dripping bubbles for a while. Beef stew is on the menu tonight. That is basically filet mingnon with hollandaise sauce. Then to wash it down, we will have a little desalinated Cabernet.

We just spotted a light in the mist ahead. It is either ABN AMRO TWO that has now passed us or a fishing boat or a real Pirate ship. Not sure yet. We will let you know.


Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

Position: 41,8.50S , 52,35.54E

Speed: 17 knots, Course: 82 deg.

Very interesting day today that produced a lot of work for skippers and navigators. Basically the weather systems that we had been sailing in and planning on sailing for a few more days changed and we had to scramble to understand a new picture. The only ones exempt from this are ABN 1 who had just enough of a jump.30 miles on escape the front that swallowed the rest of us up.

Early this morning we slowly fell off the train ride. The wind started to drop in velocity and lift. Everyone knows the symptoms and knows what the ramifications are. Anyway as frustrating as it is to see one boat have the good fortune of a breakaway, it happens in ocean racing. This could be a race winner for ABN1 as they will no doubt add 200 miles to their lead in the next 24 hours. We had the good fortune of this in the1998 race when we rounded Cape Horn with a 100 mile lead and turned it into 500 miles in three days as we skated off in good breeze while the rest of the fleet parked at the Falklands. However, there could be some tricky conditions awaiting on the Australian coast so it is never over ’til its over. But for now the guys on ABN 1 are feeling fat and happy.

We are having a good race with the “kids” on ABN2. We have been about 7 miles apart for the past 12 hours but never seen them. We have been in the front all day and it has been raining hard and extremely dense fog. Not very windy though; 10-18 knots from the south.

We past the first gate in the race this afternoon. The race organizers have placed to “gates” in the course to prevent us from going too far south where the icebergs are. It is a good thing not to run through all the ice like we did in 2002 but staying this far north really changing the game. In some ways it is more challenging because if we were not up here we would be screaming along in the south-westerly’s just making hay toward Melbourne and having a blast. Instead, we are up here trying to figure out if we are going to get hit by a secondary low getting spun out of this old decaying front. I was thinking that it may not be too far from here to go to the Seychelles which is a place I have always wanted to go.

Jules and I spent 8 hours straight working through about 20 different possible scenarios today and running them through our software. We were trying to generate a model which resembled what we have in reality as theforecasts we got were not accurate. This is normal as the forecasts are based on models and models are not always accurate. The ones for the Atlantic are much more accurate because they are anchored with wind reports from ships but down here there are any reports to help tune the models. We finally got one were comfortable with then the next weather report came in and confirmed what we had figured out.

We are not out of the woods yet though as there is a secondary low spinning off the front and that could cause havoc for us if we get hit with its 40 knots north or northeasterly winds. Pirates, ABN2 are trying desperately to catch back up to the front and cross to the south and east of the new low. The models think we can do it but only time will tell. At the last position report, Movistar had west wind so it looks like they are in the transition and possibly heading for the north side of the secondary low. We are further to the south east so we actually hope we get to see how they do on the next position report before we have to take the dive into the transition.

Other than that, things are normal onboard. Today was Anthony Merrington’s birthday so he got an extra birthday protein bar. We went through a few sail changes in the morning but have been riding the same sail now for 8 hours. That is a nice stretch for the all of us to get a lot of other jobs done onboard, sewing torn sail bags, repairing the sink, fixing leaks, etc. Sleep has been pretty good in the last 2 hours as we are not pounding much at all.

Speaking of sleep, I think I might just slip off and get some. When the transition comes, it will be a busy 4-5 hours for me.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

Position: 42,30.94S , 46,56.79E

Speed: 14 knots, Course: 59 deg.

We have been battling with ABN 2 all day. They caught up to us and nearly passed us in 20 knots reaching conditions. They recorded the best runs of the four lead boats on the last two position reports. Their extra form stability was perfect for these conditions. The wind has now lightened considerably and lifted and we are making some small gains back on them. We have been within sight of them all day except that a thick fog came in for about 6 hours but we tracked them on our radar.

ABN 1 also made some good gains on the fleet earlier today but then slowed and lost some ground to both us and ABN2 as they got to some lighter winds first.

We spent a lot of time worrying if we had the right sail on today when ABN 2 caught us. We haven’t had enough time yet to be sure of our sail cross-overs. Also we are learning where there is too much overlap in some sails and where we have holes in our inventory. ABN 2 had a very nice specialty sail on today that we got to have a look at. For a long time they were flying it stealth in the fog, but then a clearing came and we got a good look at it.

As this class is new and some of the boats in this race are of fairly different design, not all sails work on all boats and not all boats need the same sails that other boats need. So it is a complex problem to understand what is fast, if it is fast on your boat, or is it not the sail but some other attribute that makes a certain boat fast in certain conditions. There is no substitute for time in the boat in order to figure all this out. That was out biggest loss from leg 1. Time in the boat. Not the points.

We are expecting a front tonight and in fact we are in the warm sector now with a lot of rain falling on us. If the front runs over us we will get lifted and have to gybe to starboard. Our router software doesn’t think we will get run over by the front but looking at the actual situation on deck, it looks like we will. It would have been nice to have hooked onto the front and ride it out of here but on the other hand that plays into ABN’s hands as it would have been more power reaching. Now we are struggling in light stuff which is better for the Farr boats.

Onboard, life is good. I really enjoy these long legs. You get time to get into routines and you really get the sense that you are traveling somewhere as well as racing, of course. Being in sight of another boat for the whole day was great as we are all used to racing side by side other boats in the Olympics or America’s Cup. Seeing your competitor pushes you harder. We are getting our routines down and even having some time for a few jokes. We are eating food like there won’t be any tomorrow. It is getting colder so we are all getting thicker mid layers on. Someone even had their gloves on last night. Balaclavas or rubberized skull caps are popular items as well.

I just made the boys on deck a round of hot chocolate with 1.5 rations each so they are happy. I got one for myself while I am writing to you.

I see a big rain squall coming on the radar so I better go. We may need to scramble a bit for this one.

Paul Cayard

Pirate of the Caribbean

Position: 42,56.9S , 38,23.49E

Speed: 18 knots, Course: 82 deg.

We continue to march along to the east is 18-20 knots of wind from 020. All is well onboard the Pearl although we did have a small electrical fire. Juggy and Jules sorted out. It was a “two alarmer”. That means it was only severe enough to get two people out of their bunks from their coveted sleep time. That is two out of four.

We have spent the past 24 hours in an ABN sandwich. We have ABN 1 to leeward and ahead and ABN 2 to windward and behind. Judging how these two did on leg one this is probably not a bad place to be. We are reaching with about 90 degree true wind angle and the beam of the two ABN boats is doing them good here. ABN 1 has made steady gains on us over the past 24 hours while we are just holding off ABN2. Movistar has made some gains hopeful from the fact that they are behind us and the front and stronger winds are hitting them first.

The wind has gone from 330 to 030 during the course of the day so We have gone from spinnaker in the morning to an A0 (reaching Code 0) to the blast reacher and finally to the J4 now. We always have the genoa staysail up under all those sails. So it has been a busy day with all the changes. Still we got some good maintenance done around the boat, calking some leaks, working on some navigational tools for Jules and I, and just generally getting things tidied up.

Yesterday we had two close encounters with whales. Both passed up one boat length off to our port side, both were heading west. We were just lucky not to hit them. We were traveling in excess of 20 knots at the time so I hate to think of what would have happened to each party if we had crashed.

Albatross are starting to come along and check us out. They are amazing birds, so efficient in shape, hardly flapping their wings and gliding for hours. We have seen some pretty big ones..10 foot wingspan.

The sea temp is down to 11 degrees so now that we are reaching at 90 true, which give us about 45 apparent wind angle, the spray is flying straight into our faces and it is cold. Time to add another layer under our Musto foulies. Almost time to break out some gloves. Also noticeable is that we are constantly hungry. We eat a meal and then 30 minutes later start rummaging around for snacks. Luckily we brought plenty of food.

The forecast for the next three days is north westerly winds about 20-25 knots with 30 some times. So it looks like will make good mileage for the next few days, not record breaking stuff but still close to 500 miles per day.

Time to get into the bunk.

Paul Cayard

Skipper of The Black Pearl