illbruck away again

Weather situation is variable giving navigators a fresh call to arms in the Volvo fleet

Saturday March 23rd 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
...of islands, whales, fish traps and squalls - once again times speed up
Mark Rudiger reports from on board Assa Abloy


Land Ho! As low as Barbuda is, we could pick it out in the building dawn light. It was an ominous sunrise, with huge billowing frontal clouds and large confused seas. We had been battling Tyco all night and at one point changed sails five times in one watch. They put on a full attack, but we had the same idea they did, be close second around Barbuda.

As the sun started climbing over the cloud tops, we could see a road block between our next landmark, San Salvador and us. We weighted our options carefully, and as much as we didnít want to split from Tyco, for us it was the better option.

Just after we gybed and got some good headed pressure, Chris [Larson] yells out some expression of concern. A huge humpback whale breached just in front of us. "Mange, turn on the generator!" Klabbe [Klas Nylof] yells. Sometimes it helps to alert them of your presence with a little noise. He turned towards us and followed for a bit.

Then we were just getting ready to gybe, and Chris again starts yelling unmentionable words. This time he's looking over the side and there is something coming at us fast with white water spraying off it. Just when we think Jaws IV is coming aboard, we realise we have snagged a fish or lobster pot, and the two floats are coming from nowhere together behind us. Neal yells for the spinnaker to come down.

My heart sinks - all this work and now we're going to loose it all. I run below to check the rudder. Magnus is already looking at the keel. He confirms the worst, heavy line snagged hard. I can see the line throughthe rudder window. Suddenly, just as they're about to drop the spinnaker: SNAP!, the line breaks. "Hold the kite," I yell. "We're clear. Lucky for us,
but unlucky for the fisherman Iím afraid. Hopefully weíll make it up to them by ordering some of their lobster in Miami."

Meanwhile, after splitting gybes in the squall line, and losing sight for a while, Tyco is gybing back in behind us again for little loss or gain. The easterly trades are softening and it looks to be a slower ride for a couple of days.

Although we would like to go faster, the moon is getting fuller every night and the temperature milder. The sailing and the competition don't get much better than this.

Off for some much needed sleep.

Cheers for now

Mark 'Rudi' Rudiger

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