Race 12 - Day 9, Sun 27th June

July 5, 2010
 The 3am – 7am watch was pretty eventful. The winds are easing and initially the sea state still confused but undoubtedly easier to handle than yesterday's evening watch. Even though we have been putting the clocks forward an hour each day for the last 2 days, to bring ourselves in line with BST, it is still light at 3am. The full moon is still up but is soon overshadowed by the sun who warms our spirits as it bathes us in the glow of a beautiful amber morning.

We finally make a move to shake the final reef out of the main as we need to move faster if we mean business. However mid way through setting up for this, we head-up and the starboard pole makes a strange 'Twang'. It bent, under the force, at a 90 degree angle. That's NOT supposed to happen!

It takes us a good half an hour to gybe the headsail, get the damaged pole down and made safe before rigging the other pole and re-gybing the headsail back in place. Then we finally get to shake out the reef – the job we'd started initially. By this time we are all desperate to strip off several layers of clothes – a result of hard work and the sun doing it's job well!

Even with the reef out we start to feel that we should be going faster and are chomping at the bit to put the heavyweight spinnaker up but we all know the sea is still a little too lumpy and it would probably collapse in the troughs of the waves, more than it would fly at the moment. We just need to sit and wait for the sea to settle for an hour or so.

Eventually just before end of watch (as is quite often the case when you're most looking forward to your bunk) Justin arrives and declares us ready for the kite hoist! We get it flying and I then realise that he must have got the latest schedules in. The other boats are out of stealth mode and Qingdao have overtaken us by 3 miles! We really DO need to put the foot to the floor if we are to hang on to 3rd/4th place (dependent on Cork's position). We'd like to do better but realistically a third place is the best we can hope for now. Still – we have a first and second place pennant to fly so perhaps it's only right that we should get the full set!

By the time we take over at 7pm Qingdao are now 5 miles in front of us and we really need to start pushing. We are confident that they won't have the angle to fly their spinnaker though, so we are hoping by the time the next sched comes in we'll see the benefit of an extra half knot an hour that we should be getting. The night is once again dark, with stormy clouds around and we watch nervously as black clouds threaten rain and potentially big winds shifts that could mean we have to do a swift drop of the kite. We prepare all the lines in readiness and even change into full foulies so we don't get drenched but most of it passes in front of us and we hold onto the kite.

Towards the end of our watch I start to gets pains down my left leg while holding onto the spinnaker sheet and no matter which position I shuffle into I can't find one that is comfortable. Frustrated I have to relinquish charge of the sail trim and sit out the last hour, desperately trying to stretch out my spine, hoping that whatever might have nudged out of place will click back in quickly. As we go off watch I hope that despite the roll on the boat a few hours flat on my back in my bunk will do the trick.
 

Race 12 - Day 8, Sat 26th June

July 5, 2010
 Last night was the first time I've seen the moon and stars since leaving Cape Breton. It was however only a fleeting view of a few minutes before the clouds rolled over and spoiled my chance to brush up on my constellations. The sea is still pretty wild and the helming fairly challenging – even though the wind has eased considerably, the sea state is still pretty big and confused and we now don't have enough power in the sails to drive through it. After much debate we finally change from t...
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Race 12 - Day 7, Fri June 25th

June 26, 2010
Race 12 - Day 7, Fri June 25th   

3am arrived and I have to admit to being slightly relieved when I heard I wouldn't be needed on deck. We reverted back to our Pacific crewing of just 2 on deck at any one time with a third person on “step-watch” just inside the companionway to act as comms between on-deck and off-deck crew.  I used the time in between to finish the edit of our weekly video and to check our position against the other boats.  It was clear early on that having gained miles, ...
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Race 12 - Day 6, Thurs June 24th

June 26, 2010
Race 12 - Day 6, Thurs June 24th   

This morning we had a little respite. We must have had a total of about an hour and a half of sunshine spread out in sections across our 6 hour watch, It wasn't much but it was enough to remind us why we love this. Just a small amount of sunshine turns a completely miserable watch into the best place on earth to be. It's amazing the difference it makes and it put us all in a better mood. The early scheds also showed that we were the fastest boat in the flee...
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Race 12 - Day 5, Wed June 23rd

June 26, 2010
Race 12 - Day 5, Wed June 23rd  

I've just come off night watch which on one hand was a success as we kept up some great speeds with the spinnaker all night and are now officially back at the front of the fleet chasing Cork.  We're now only 137 miles behind Cork but we are still only 2 miles in front of Jamaica and 6 in front of California and Spirit of Australia.  The fleet has split into 2 packs – which has so often been the case. Most of the fleet are following us and we seem to be takin...
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Race 12 - Day 4, Tue June 22nd

June 23, 2010
Race 12 - Day 4, Tue June 22nd 

Today is pretty well a repeat performance of yesterday (without the toilet drama!). The fog rolled in with the morning light and once again we were playing the 'guess what's more than 50 metres in front of us' game.  Last night we were flying headsails and still zooming along at 11, 12 and 13 knots. We're now back in contention with the other boats with Australia showing as 1 mile ahead in the scheds. We are pretty level with California, Jamaica and Qingdao. If...
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Race 12 - Day 3, Mon June 21st

June 23, 2010
Race 12 - Day 3, Mon June 21st

It's the Summer Solstice today – mid-summer's day and the longest day. It conjures a vision of a beautiful bright sunny day – blue skies with crisp white sails. What you don't expect is thick fog and zero visibility but that's exactly what faced us at 3am this morning. The fog horn was laid out on the deck ready and a couple of flares were also looked out in case we suddenly had 'too close an encounter of another boat kind'!  We also had to post someone on r...
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Race 12 - Day 2, Sun June 20th

June 23, 2010
Race 12 - Day 2, Sun June 20th

To say night watch last night was chilly, would be the understatement of the year. Icily cold or flippin' freezing would be more accurate terms and as we all piled on as many layers as we could fit under our foulies. I mused that one of my early training blogs – where I joked about being on iceberg watch in the Solent, might not seem quite so ridiculous now! In truth we are probably reasonably safe at the moment but we are certainly not too many miles away from...
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Leg 7 Race 12 Cape Breton Island to Cork - Day 1, Sat June 19th

June 21, 2010
Leg 7 Race 12 Cape Breton Island to Cork - Day 1, Sat June 19th

19th June
Today I was more than ready to set sail again. Today I was looking forward to tackling our final big ocean crossing and at the end of it looking forward to arriving in Ireland. All that eagerness is also tinged with a little sadness and trepidation though. I'm sad that this amazing adventure is so nearly over and also concerned about how I'm going to settle back into my old life again.....or not!

So today we waved a fond f...
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Race 11 Day 5, Thurs June 10th

June 21, 2010
Race 11 Day 5, Thurs June 10th 
Leg 7 Race 11

Got up for night watch to find that the Aussies have closed the gap to 3 miles. Not sure how that happened but it's scared the living daylights out of us. I'm obsessive about checking the positions of the other boats on our Nav station computer.  It's a bit like standing on a railway track and watching a train coming steaming towards you. You just stand there transfixed and watch it happen!  Of course we are sailing the boat too but whenever I'm no...
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