Slow lane to Salvador

As remaining Around Alone boats struggle north

Wednesday March 12th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Pos Yacht Name Lat Long SOG DTF DTL 24h Run
Class 1
1 Bobst Group-Armor Lux FINISHED
2 Solidaires FINISHED
3 Tiscali -15.5 -38.6 9 153.3 119.6
4 Pindar -17.7 -38.5 7.5 283.9 130.6 106.2
5 Ocean Planet -33.2 -45.6 10.4 1298.7 1145.3 197
6 Hexagon -42.8 -65 0 2342.7 2189.3 0
Class 2
1 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America -20.4 -38.4 8 445.5 124.5
2 Everest Horizontal -34.4 -45 9 1347.5 902.1 174.8
3 Spirit of yukoh -37.4 -41.6 7.4 1477.2 1031.7 117.3
4 BTC Velocity -46 -49.9 5.6 2077.8 1632.4 124.6
5 Spirit of Canada -54.8 -68.2 0 2907 2461.6 0

With the first two arrivals in Salvador, the remaining boats in Around Alone are continuing to make slow progress towards the finish line (see position chart below). At present the front runners are sailing in light easterlies although this looks set to back slightly to the northeast in the next few hours.

Despite winning the leg on the water, Bernard Stamm has a 48 hour penalty added to his elapsed time, but this looks like he will be able to hold on to second position.

From on board Ocean Planet Bruce Schwab sends this report:

Wednesday, March 12, 2003 1100GMT Lat: 34 47S Lon: 46 35W
Heading 012T at 10kts. Wind: 10-15 from the west

I was lying lazily in my bunk late yesterday afternoon feeling a bit groggy. I had just finished a chapter of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's book " A World of My Own", about his epic solo, non-stop circumnavigation (he was the first to do it) in the Golden Globe race in 1967. There are several great books about this amazing event that eventually led to the Around Alone and Vendee Globe races, but I digress....

The wind, which had favorably changed to the west allowing us to tack onto port and head north, was switching back to the north and turning the boat east. I hoped it would switch back so that I wouldn't have to get up and tack, but 10, 20, 30 minutes went by and I begrudgingly got up to begin the process. First I shifted the cabin gear before
transferring the water ballast, all the while taking my time in hope that the wind would agree to turn back. It didn't, so I popped on deck to have a final look before transferring the water.

I was flabbergasted to see the most stunning full double rainbow I have ever seen. Two complete colorful hoops, with the main center one filled with a mysterious light glow. It was huge! So big in fact that the legs of the bows were actually behind some low clouds on the horizon. Grabbing the camera for a few shots, I was then transfixed for several minutes.

When I remembered about tacking, I looked at the compass and the wind had begun to switch back west, and I didn't have to tack! I did have to move the cabin gear back to port, but it was well worth it. I guess the rainbow was a gift show by God/Allah/Jesus/Mother Nature/the Virgin Mary/Neptune/Rama/Vishnu/the Great Albatross/Oz/the Good Witch of the North/our Ocean Planet, etc, and they needed to get my attention with the wind shift so that I wouldn't miss it! Glad that they did as it reminds me of how lucky I am to be here on this fantastic boat. With all the challenges that have come our way, we are in one piece and at the very least I haven't ever sat down buck naked on a hot pressure cooker (you'll have to read Sir Robin's book to get that one)....;-)

I know I shouldn't be sending so many pictures (expensive), but I couldn't resist as these are great. Even so, they don't do the rainbow justice but will give you an idea of it.

Bruce and Ocean Planet

From on board Everest Horizontal Tim Kent writes:

Position: 35.13.49s 46.16.55w 6:15 am Central, 12:15 GMT Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Barometer 1001, wind 10 knots, speed 9 knots, 1,409 miles to Salvador

We are reaching! Last night, a new high pressure system began to roll over us and slowly eased the wind aft. The reaching part is great - the waves are slowly subsiding and the pounding is greatly reduced. The wind is backing off, though, and over the day today the high will pass over us and make life very fluky indeed.

Yesterday was all about beating up the boat. We were on the wind, slamming our way forward all day. It was squally, so I spent the day taking in reefs and letting them back out as the squalls passed over. We were at extreme heel angles almost all the time as well as launching off of waves, so working in the cockpit was most interesting indeed. Anything other than sailing the boat was impossible; it was impossible to fix anything to eat, impossible to get any rest. When the wind started moving aft last night, I was most grateful.

I just came down below from dragging the Code Zero out and setting it. Having this big sail out means that I must keep a sharp eye out for squalls; I'll need to have the Code 0 rolled up before one hits, or I won't have the sail anymore! Last night, I would normally have had the genoa out, but of course that sail is several thousand miles back on the bottom of the ocean. We were getting lightning and squalls, so I left the big Code sail down below until I could keep an eye on things.

Over the next several days, a series of four high pressure systems will sweep over us, swinging wind direction around the compass and wind speeds from high to low. This is tough, changeable sailing. It reminds me most of the Doldrums, with squalls and unsettled weather constantly. For now, though, I am enjoying heading north!

Brad reported yesterday that he was in the middle of a huge oilfield, with offshore oil rigs all around him. It shows up on my chart as the Pampo Oilfield; I plan to avoid that area on my way north.

There is still no word from the Spirit of Canada or HSBC/Hexagon camps about their plans for re-entering the race. I would imagine that everyone is a bit busy trying to arrange things and we will hear about their plans as soon as they are made.

One of the hard things about lousy weather is that it discourages one of the most important trips I take on the boat each day; my evening "walkabout". Every evening, while the sun is still bright, I dress up, harness up, and take a walk to the foredeck. All I am doing is checking things; coiling lines, tightening halyards, just making sure that everything is okay. I have frequently found small problems that could escalate into very large ones; a worn tack line has been replaced, a loose nut tightened. Nothing huge at the outset, but things that could make a difference later. When it's cold, or bouncy and wet as it was yesterday, it's easy to stay put in the cabin. But I make myself dress for the walkabout at least once a day, and always before sunset.


Graham Dalton writes from Mar del Plata:

The sun is shining. There is not a cloud in the sky. It is going to be a beautiful day in Mar del Plata, but Hexagon still has no mast.

We have a new member of the shore team to help us during our stay in Argentina. He is a marine biology student from a nearby university called Garston. Garston speaks fluent English and has been invaluable in helping us with the many logistical problems we have been encountering over the last couple of days.

It is still proving difficult to ship a mast to Argentina in time for the restart of the Around Alone race. Yesterday, I had a call from Josh Hall, an Englishman who works with Ellen MacArthur on her various sailing projects [erm, this is not the case, Ed] Josh offered to have a mast shipped out to the Falkland Islands at short notice. This idea turned out to be a non-starter, as we would not be able to get it from the Falklands to here.

Yesterday, we noticed that Hexagon was hanging off her mooring buoy by her stern. This is not normal and was causing the waves that had been whipped up by the wind to crash over the boat. We went out to her and discovered that the long line, that had been securing the front of the boat to the buoy, had managed to wrap itself around her keel and was causing her to spin round. We freed the keel and shortened the rope. The boat looks more comfortable this morning, but it is still not in an ideal location.

Today, we will go out to Hexagon and carry out some maintenance. We will clean up and take some of the fittings off to store them ashore and service them. At the moment, we are looking into shipping our container of spares down to Mar del Plata from Salvador. It may be possible for Hexagon to come out of the water here, for an early refit, if we do not receive a mast in time to carry this out in Salvador. One problem we would encounter, if we were to crane Hexagon out here, is that nowhere local is equipped with the special slings and spacer bars that are designed to carefully lift the boat from the water. We would have to rent these items from elsewhere, and have them delivered to us here. We do have a portable cradle that has been designed to store the boat on shore; however, it is with the rest of the kit in Salvador.

I have joined a local gym and am planning on spending my mornings getting back into shape. I will then siesta, before working on Hexagon in the afternoon. I wish I was at sea, but it is not a bad way of life here.

Bueno viento


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