Good winds today, in the 25 – 40 knot range. “A” team is happy to report being the first team to achieve 42 nm’s on their 4 hour shift. That’s an average of 10.5 knots per hour fro the shift. The competition between A and B teams are heating up with each successive watch wanting to “best” the mileage of the previous watch. It’s become quite serious with no one allowing early hand-offs of the helm from one shift to the other in fear of losing a tenth of a mile to the other team. In fact teams are “dragging their feet”, attempting to sneak in extra time on the helm in order to steal just a fraction of extra mileage from the other team. It does get frustrating when you’ve calculated it takes 36 seconds or so to do a tenth of a mile and you saw the odometer click over close to the end of your shift, then to realize that the next team is calling for time to give up the helm and you know there’s almost another tenth about to click over.... just a few seconds more. I’m sure it was about thirty seconds ago that the current one clicked over, if I can just squeeze out another 6 seconds... Yesss!!!
Albatross! A common sea bird, an amazingly agile, very large bird that rarely stops flying and rarely flaps its wings. It’s a master at gliding and taking advantage of the up-drafts created by the large winds, waves and strong breezes. In and out of the waves it weaves itself in a seemingly endless search for food. We’ve had one bird follow us for nearly 24 hours now and decided to name it Eric. I don’t know why, it just sounded good ... Eric the Albatross. A second one appeared late today, we think it’s a female, we named it Erica. They are now Eric and Erica Erickson. All albatross’s are now either Eric or Erica, all from the Erickson family, silly but fun.
Another lunar rainbow, 2nd time this trip, also calling them “moon bows”.
A halyard failure at 2:45 pm today. The primary load one, port side broke and fell to the deck. It had chaffed clean through, probably at or near the turning block at the mast head. This wasn’t a big surprise as we had been keeping a close eye on it, but it’s failure meant that another trip up the mast was in order (the 5th for Dave) to re-run a new halyard, inspect the strop bridle and assess the set-up. We need another 36 hours or so out of it, it’s come such a long ways, our entire effort and placement in the race is dependent on that strop holding up.
As Don said: Three halyards in repair, top engineering effort needed.
Up Dave went, repairs successfully completed he reports that another 36 hours is “guaranteed!”
“All Hands! All Hands!”
The call went out at early in the evening after the start of the 10 till 2 shift. “The spinnaker has blown!” The B shift was on watch, Don on the helm Dave and Brian in the deck trying to pull down a ragged, flogging S4 spinnaker. Dan and Gunnar in the pit working the halyards trying the lower what was left of the sail.
Keturah was the first to spring out of her bed. With her PFD always at the ready she was at the top of the companionway stairs in a flash. Not knowing what exactly what the problem was but clearly knowing a problem had arisen she repeated the “All Hands!” call. Soon we all were topside working to get the boat and the sails under control.
The S4 spinnaker had blown its seams and was tearing itself up at the top of the mast. We needed to get it down! A good five feet of the sail was still flying up at the mast head, which kept pressure on the halyards so the sail wouldn’t drop to the deck, it needed to be pulled down. The problem was there was only a very small, very strong luff chord available to us and it was barely the size of fishing line. We could pull the sail down using this line but it is so thin that the risk of it sliding through our hands, cutting our fingers was very serious. We had to wrap it around something, we needed to take the pressure on something other than our hands and fingers. The extreme wind and flogging of the sail was creating a situation that sustaining an injury was very possible if we were not careful. The solution came in the form of a wrapped up, unused halyard at the base of the mast. We wrapped a section of the thin spinnaker line around this large bundle of halyard and worked the spinnaker to the deck of the boat. Down it came, four to five feet at a time. It wasn’t a quick douse but it was safe and no one was injured.
We had also success with Steve’s safety, it worked to keep the spinnaker from falling into the water in front of the boat. Although the spinnaker failed, the halyards, strop back up and safety had not.
Back to white sails for the night, we’d contemplate going back to our spinnaker “Aqua-man” in the morning when we had light.
Our speeds were still good, only losing .75 to 1 knot under white sails. But that was over the water, our VMG wasn’t as good as we couldn’t point onto the course heading (210) as well under white sails. This is the beauty of a symmetrical spinnaker better down-wind angles.
Gunnar assessed our position and that of the other boats and figured out that if we sailed carefully and reasonably fast we could consolidate our position as first in our division and possibly gain on one or two boats to improve our overall standing. This was our game plan.
Hurricane Darby has been part of our weather considerations for a few days now, but in watching its speed (10 knts +/-) we have determined we can out-run it and be across the finish line before it reaches Lahaina. We are seeing its speed drop and know it will soon be a tropical storm, but it is packing some good winds projected to reach 50+ knots. We don’t want to be in that kind of wind.
208 miles to go, we’ll be over the finish line tomorrow in less than 24 hours!
Quote of the day from Steve: We don’t have problems, we just have solutions!