A Day of Change

Position: 26,28.80 N , 65,2.90 W

Speed: 18 knots, Course: 326 deg.

It has been a day of change. We have sailed through a large mass of cloud that is the remnant of a decaying cold front. It was probably 200 miles wide as seen from the satellite pictures. Under this clouds deck, the winds were variable. One minute we were sailing upwind in light wind and ten minutes later we were planning downwind with 25 knots of wind in a torrential downpour of rain.

When we finally stepped out of that “room” and into the next, we stepped into strong northeasterly winds. In a matter of five minutes the wind went from a 14 knot run to a 25 knots tight reach. That was at about 1600 local time today and ever since then we have been blasting along at 20 knots of boats peed on a tight reach. These are the conditions we term “fire hosing” as the water that fly’s off the bow and hits you in the face, does so with the force of a fire hose. This is a constant fire hose – hours of it.

There have been some gains and losses through all these changes. Of course we hope to stay closer to the lead two but they seemed to get away just a bit better than we did. We did manage a bit of a gain on Ericsson and Brasil1. Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, we will transition a high pressure ridge. This will compress the fleet as we all slow down while going through the ridge. As the lead boats exit the ridge, they will stretch their lead back out. The winds on the other side of the ridge are the same as what we have now just on the opposite tack. So, more fire hosing.

Getting constantly hit by the fire hose is quite tiring, but it is indicative of good speed being made. At this stage of any leg, everyone is pretty much able to put up with anything that gets you to the dock fast.

Life onboard is a bit more difficult in these conditions. The motions are violent, the boat is very heeled, and now the temperature has dropped to 21C. The tropical cruise is definitely over and tomorrow night, when we are ripping along in the north westerly breeze it will be real cold. I am thinking about getting my thermal layer on already tonight. I just don’t want to get it soaked too soon. I am trying to dry out the clothes I had on today, that got soaked. I do that by sleeping with the wet clothes on.

That is the best way to dry things out.body heat. Makes sleeping kind of uncomfortable. We are not using the heaters on this leg.

We have 810 miles to go to the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay and then 120 miles to sail up to Baltimore. We should get to the entrance some time Monday afternoon. Hopefully there will be some breeze to get up the bay when we get there.

We did some media work today for the Volvo Ocean Race television producers.

In 1998, EF Language (the boat I skippered) and Swedish Match (the boat Erle Williams sailed on) had an epic duel up the Chesapeake that culminated in Swedish Match winning by 17 seconds. The lead changed several times that day and even though we lost that battle, I have to say it was a great race.

So Erle and I were asked to recount that battle today and some of that footage will be part of the TV show that Volvo airs next week.


Pirates of the Caribbean