Light wind frustration

Around Alone fleet heads for the Doldrums

Saturday October 26th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Tim Kent reports from on board Everest Horizontal

17:32 UTC Friday, October 25, 2002
Positions: 38.07.04N 10.12.91W

What a difference a few hours makes. When I started on this note this morning, I was bobbing about in no air. Now I have a consistent 11 knots of windspeed, 10 knots of boatspeed, and am heading almost south - 170 degrees - sort of where I want to go.

The first two days have been filled with the two things that Everest Horizontal doesn't like - heavy air upwind and very light wind.

This morning the air went completely away for a couple of hours. I had just spotted Derek Hatfield's Spirit of Canada and had spoken to him for a while on the VHF when it went totally to bed. I did my first two 360 degree bobbing circles of the race, then came a long series of light-air tacks and calms. Presently, Alan Paris on BTC Velocity emerged from the gloom of a light rain shower and he and I spoke for a while and then he was gone - heading west as I head south.

Derek and Alan both have light Open 40s that like these conditions more than my boat does. Alan assured me that we would find the trades off of Morocco and that I would be long gone then - I'm praying that he is correct. There is a big high pressure system that we need to negotiate just to the south of us. The weather models all show very little air in there. We will soon see if Brad and Kojiro, who went out west, or Derek, Alan and I were tactically right.

I finally got a couple of good meals in today. In all of the uphill pounding, I was not in the mood for big dinners. Lisbon is 65 miles to port, just aft of the beam. If I waited 160 miles and turned hard left, I'd be headed into the Straits of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean. But that will have to wait for another trip - Africa beckons. I need to reach Cape Town in five weeks in order to spend a week there - there are over 7,000 miles of sailing to be done before then. Pray that those trades are waiting for me in Morocco. The next couple of days are going to be s l o w.

I understand that Simone Bianchetti has moved his boat, Tiscali, to La Coruna where he and his shore team are going to fit a replacement mast so that he can continue in the race. It will take him ten days to get everything done, putting a lot of pressure on him to make a quick passage to Cape Town.

It's a shame; his boat, the former Whirlpool, is my favourite of all the 60s. It is beautifully laid out, and has my favorite gadget - a Harken coffee grinder to power any one of three winches. The Pindar team added a Harken coffee grinder to Emma Richards' boat in England - it adds a lot of power to what a person can do in the cockpit.

We have one more item to add to the repair list in Cape Town - a significant addition. When the delivery crew was moving Everest Horizontal through the St. Lawrence Seaway, they were hit by a strong storm while in port. A dock line had been rigged through the foot blocks for the port genoa sheet, and they were literally ripped out of the deck. I had been told that the repair - which was quite expensive - had been performed by someone who knew how to work with carbon, but this does not appear to be the case - one of the double foot blocks is coming out of the deck. I'll use the one just aft of it, hoping that it too will not come adrift, and will have to tear the deck apart in Cape Town - which means going into the middle water ballast tank, the lousiest job on the boat.

Without Gilles, I don't know who I will get to do the repair, but it has to be done right. The Southern Ocean will seek out weaknesses and exploit them, so I'm told.

Stay tuned.


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