Route du Rhum update 1800 Friday

Sill departs from Madeira as Ellen loses lead

Saturday November 16th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Miranda Merron writes from on board UUDS

Interesting couple of days and nights. Sorry no report yesterday - was just settling in to write it after sunset when the wind rose again.

Just before sunset, birds were flying backwards, so not sure how much there was. I was thinking about taking the main down as I was worried about the boom hitting the water, since we were getting pinned over by waves, when Tony called, we discussed and decided not to.

He said it would just bounce - you're right, it does exactly that. Thegreat slabs of waves were fetchingly illuminated by the moon, the sails were as far out as they go, and I sat there wondering where we were going next. This is born of lack of experience in these conditions on this kind of boat. It works fine, as it happens, but it was an awfully long night.

The top speed I saw was 22.5 knots, whereas today we are only managing to get up to 18. It's beautiful weather, still blowing dogs off chains, and since we are heading for the Azores, it has to get lighter. Sometime anyway. The very cramped area in the back of the boat needs bailing out regularly, the easiest method being chucking buckets out of the hatch. Yesterday it was possible to grab a few minutes in the calmer patches between squalls, while watching for the downdraft on the water in front of the cumulomonsters.

Harness required to get back to cockpit once the breeze hits, grappling hooks would have been useful too, but not good for the carbon deck. Since the start of the race the only sails we have used are the trinquette and main, never once to full hoist. It is six days in and I am starting to get fed up with the constant pressure of heavy weather. So is the boat, I think. This is the North Atlantic, not the Southern Ocean.

On the bright side, the water is a lot warmer, I've never minded living and sleeping in foul weather gear and lifejacket, and couscous + sardines lightly flavoured with ketchup and mayonnaise is totally acceptable for breakfast out here.

Miranda/UUDS 38 40N 20 18W

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