Marco Nannini on the GOR: Into the Trades

Marco Nannini on the GOR: Into the Trades

Thursday April 12 2012 Author: Marco Nannini Location: none selected

The struggle to reach the stable trade winds seems to have lasted an eternity, the fleet progress has been very slow compared to the schedule we had imagined when leaving Punta del Este and only Cessna at the front has been keeping steady averages since reaching these steady winds a day ahead of us.

So far and for several days we seemed to have fairly stable winds at night then we'd get stopped during the day in flukey winds and sudden rain showers caused presumably by the high temperatures and moist air becoming unstable. This morning for the first time the winds held strong after sunrise and the sky is unmistakeably changed, little white fluffy clouds are scattered regularly around instead of massive cumulus formations typical of the unstable air masses of the last few days, see the photo for an example.

We've emerged from this section of the race in second place squeezing a lead of 60 miles over Phesheya, our gamble to go offshore at Cabo Frio paid off eventually. I think we can now expect a drag race to the doldrums where things could get shaken again. I may be wrong so we'll certainly keep a watchful eye on the Dutch and the South Africans and try cover our backs from a likely attack...

We had a few issues with the NKE electronics suddenly losing the boat speed reading, then the compass reading, all mysteriously working again by simply powering off an on the system, luckily all the problems occurred in light airs and not while sailing with the big spinnaker in strong winds like during leg 3 when a similar failure caused the boat to go off in a big gybe resulting in the big spinnaker to be torn in half (and subsequently repaired in Punta del Este).

Another misterious source of worry came from the primary alternator we rely on to charge the batteries, for 2 consecutive days it seemed to have given up the ghost, only to wake up gingerly this morning and resume service as if nothing had ever happened.

So far, save for a spinnaker sheet which I quite stupidly lost overboard during a manouvre we havent really had any damage or serious problems, let's hope things carry on like this to make Charleston a stress free and cheap stopover. The budget has long ago been totally depleted. In Punta we were being hosted in free accommodation by the Yacht Club Punta del Este and for the other expenses i relied on the generosity of many readers who have sent donations through which i'm very grateful for. We're hoping to find a host family during our relatively brief Charleston stopover and hopefully the price of food will be no where near the inflated prices of Punta del Este where an espresso could cost over 3 euros! For now we're getting in the swing of our freeze dried diet, the last fresh item, an apple, was eaten yesterday.

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