500 miles of this 1400 mile leg in four days

Position: 54,55.98N , 9,46.3W

Speed: 13 knots, Course: 51 deg.

I apologize for not writing a daily report yesterday. From 1600 Sunday to 1600 Monday, Jules and I never slept. So when we finally got our chance, we went for it. I have just woken up from 12 hours of sleep. I feel like a new man.

As you know by now, this has been an incredibly slow leg. I won’t go into all the details but suffice it to say that there have been many tricky moments, tough decisions about whether it is better to go to shore or stay offshore and we have been stung and rewarded for both.

We normally eat three meals a day out here but because this leg is taking so long, we missed one meal yesterday and will miss one again tomorrow in order to make food for Friday and Saturday.

The big picture is that we have sailed about 500 miles of this 1400 mile leg in four days. The forecast has a couple more complete drifting sessions left for us in this final 900 miles. There is lots of racing left. Probably more than anyone out here wants.

We have been struggling all leg with our speed. On Sunday, the three Farr boats were side by side, drifting. As the breeze slowly filled to 6 knots, Brasil1 was the fastest, Ericsson second fastest and we were down right slow.

We were sailing upwind. Brasil1 stretched out to a 6 mile advantage over us in 4 hours. We stopped to send Anthony over the side to look at the foils as we have forgotten our endoscope. It was very frustrating to watch these two sail away from us and then to have the “slow light air boats” the ABN’s and Brunel, sail right up to us. The ABN’s have upwind Code 0’s and they have worked on this leg because the sea has been so flat.

Yesterday morning we played the coastal effects real well and got ahead the ABN’s and Brunel as we finally passed Fastnet rock and sailed along the southern coast of Ireland. There are some incredible castles and old forts along the rugged coast line. I did manage to enjoy the spectacular scenery despite my frustration at how Brasil1 and Ericsson had left us and were some 10 miles ahead.

Yesterday afternoon the breeze filled in and ABN Amro One was just plain faster than us on a flat run in 16 knots of wind. This is the first time we have seen anyone out run us. This again raised the anxiety level in me as we were finally on a point of sail that we should make some gains and were not.

This morning, ABN Amro One has continued to sail away from us in 15 knots of wind, flat running, and has now sailed right up along side of Brasil1. This eases my anxiety as it is just that ABN Amro One is a rocket not that we are going that badly.

“Do we have something on the bottom? No endoscope so we don’t know. Should we back down?” This is the discussion on our boat for three days now.

Backing down involved stopping the boat and making it go backwards. This usually costs about 1 mile compared to someone who goes straight during that period.

Needless to say, every time we come to a near stop due to lack of wind, which has occurred a couple of times already on this leg and will occur a couple of more times looking at the forecast, we send Anthony in to check everything.

Right now we can see the whole fleet. Through last night, us tail enders got brought up closer to Brasil1 and Ericsson. They are about 6 miles ahead of us now rather than the 10 of yesterday. This gives me some comfort as I need to find a way to stay close to Brasil1, if not beat them, on this leg.

The short term forecast is for the 14 knot winds which we have enjoyed last night to start dropping off this afternoon and we head into an area of no wind again tomorrow. Tomorrow night a broken down cold front will likely bring us 15 knots again as we approach Fair Isle, the rounding mark at the top of Scotland. Then it is 450 miles to Rotterdam. The current router has us arriving at 11:00 local time Saturday. This is not a very reliable forecast but it does say that we will arrive two hours before the start of the Rotterdam iiport race. That should make for an interesting set of circumstances.

Anyway, taking a deep breath and stepping back from the minutia of my problems, I realize that today is “D-Day” and I am thinking of all the young men who lost their lives on this day some 61 years ago, on beaches not far from here. That was a tough time.

That puts a lot of perspective on things.

Now let me see again how it is going; It is a beautiful day, the sun in shinning in Northern Ireland, we are in a sailboat race, the boat is moving forward, all are safe and well onboard the Black Pearl.

There is nothing more to say than we are blessed to live the lives we live no matter when we get to Rotterdam.


Pirates of the Caribbean