Yacht Aditi

Morale has plummeted

Tumbling at a rapid pace in the now larger seas. Crew are lethargic, life onboard is uncomfortable and the simple unknowns pushed it all over the edge. The lead up to this point is as follows: One primary winch comes and goes which is unsettling re mainsail reefing or mainsheet control. The headsail reefing is already a Harken mini winch handle operated at the anchor roller! The sea state is a mess as the waves have been driven hard from the north west, then we spent most of today in 28-33kn Easterly, then ESE, now we are due to be seeing SSW to SW! As the wind has dropped we have lost some sail power & stability with the sea being little changed. Nobody understands the ARC weather forecasts . What is an inverted low? A cut off gale? (google a cut-off gale and all you will get is a bunch of cricket so it’s not just us!). The forecasts only point 48 hours ahead so at end of day we can’t plan our next move as the window is so short particularly with half the day gone before we get the SSB download.

Go west? south? wait? The immediate wind prediction is good and we reef to it, plus 50%, at dusk. Forecasts are issued too late in the day as SSB propogation is a problem in daytime so we have to fight for the info. So the advice was to go south, now it’s wait for a squall line to pass and go straight across. We think this means a close reach but no data so no idea. As I expect many tracks show navigation is a guessing game. We ran initially SSW then forced SE all last night in about 28kn targeting Mindelo. But the wind veered so then had to run W all day in 28-33kn.

The Cape Verde pilot warns of steep seas on eastern approach as depths drop 2500m to 80m with current poss. 1kn against wind in the channel to Mindelo. Plus a venturi system between the islands which can double wind speed. With the growing sea state we decided not to risk landfall. Instead we rigged lines and blocks for a staysail or storm jib in case we hit a squall when already in 30kn. Last night’s grib files predicted a peak of 7kn. It then shows W or SW winds for days. We have now changed course from West to SSW heading for Mindelo as we are not satisfied that we have any understanding of weather outlook for next 200 to 2000 miles.

Vital sadistics: Back on heading to Mindelo to stop & assess situation properly/take a break from the sea/consider repairs. 116nm or 85nm to go depending on side of entry.

From the galley: very little, couple of baked potatoes. I am sure we have a lot to learn about being on the ocean including dealing with the lows.

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At Sea Day 6; that was a stupid decision!

By 5am our starboard primary winch had packed up, so had the headsail furling hydraulics again, and by 8am the generator refused to charge the batteries. Running the engine for charging & the wind died. 48 deg C in the engine room so not that keen on checking the hydraulic fluid levels. Got there in the end. OK. Dull overcast day. Motoring.

So started fishing. Running 2 200lb lines and it’s Priceon v.s Marigold Ray. In the port corner Priceon is a professional deep high speed trawl lure. Hold the line at 6 knots and the vibrations go straight through your whole body such that you think you have just retired from 30 years road drilling! Price 22 euros. In the starboard corner we have Marigold Ray which is a squid made with a length of dyneema cover inserted into a pink marigold glove finger with 3 marigold strands as tentacles. The eye is a coke can ringpull just to create a flash of silver and some bubbles. Score so far nil nil. Back to the title.

Looking at the ARC forecast for our sector it says wind NE rising max 19kn tonight & 24kn tomorrow 6am. But we are in squalls so we added 50%. Went to the bow and manually unfurled a scrap of headsail until my wife stuck 4 fingers in the air. I think it meant we were at 4 knots. The remnants of that squall passed and we started to drop to 3.6kn speed. Ah well we are reefed for worst case so I go to bed. In bed in the stern maybe 25 minutes later I can hear the autopilot working overtime. That was a stupid decision were too slow so I have to get up, out in the rain to the bow again, unwind a little more sail. I only have 2 hours of my sleep shift left. So reluctantly it’s up to the saloon. Ha, it’s already blowing F7 and we are actually running at 7 knots. So I move to a quiet midship berth. What a good timely decision we had made. And finally if my Raymarine radar is Paul Daniels then I am Debbie McGee! When the first few squalls appeared I noticed that there was a corridor down the middle on radar with no rain. First couple of times taking the corridor worked – no rain. Then the magic vanished as they got heavier. The corridor? As I have a transom mounted radar the mast creates a blindspot making a ‘corridor’ through the squall…..

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Vital sadistics:

From no wind to currently running 6.2kn south at 170 degs to wind in F6/7. Squall after squall. Heading for Mindelo 180nm to go; no sign of trades on the grib.

From the galley: Bacon, eggs, mushrooms, toasted rye bread, butter & honey Chicken mayo on baked potato Home made salsa & nachos The end of the storm batch of spag bol on gnocci Coconut flan desert

Outlook – rough night and rougher morning.

Pictures – working the deck in 35 knots

Day 5 at sea; Talking Filty

Motoring toward Mindelo during all of today’s daylight hours but as soon as darkness fell we picked up a 7-10-12kn southeasterly so are doing over 6-7kn under full sail (unusual as we normally reef at night being a family crew). It’s totally dark. You cannot see 6 inches infront of you. Staring into the blue black of the radar at 1.30am and hallucinating over the pretty colours of orange and light blue which could be a boat, waves or rain! Amongst flashbacks of a Pink Panther in 12 inch heels not counting sheep but counting filters…how many are there on this boat? 3 watermaker, 2 hydraulic, 2 eng oil, 3 fuel, 3 water pumps, 1 fresh water, 2 sea strainers, 1 bilge. 17 perhaps? Talking of radar let’s talk visibility. I was getting a large number of echoes last night at about 6am and I knew one was an ARC yacht due to the AIS display. But it looked like a possible 2nd echo about 2 miles to their starboard bow. I called up the ARC yacht and they confirmed no other traffic but I wasn’t sure so went straight between the ARC yacht and the possible echo. Dawn came quickly and looking back in the light there was the potentially unlit, barely radar visible yacht under their bow. I brought it to the attention of the ARC yacht.

 

Learning from Starblazer with their excellent virtual bar we ran a virtual Indian Takeaway on VHF with orders for Chicken Jalfrezy, Dhansak, Korma and Tandoori with Kingfisher. Tomorrow evening we will run a virtual DJ session.

Rotting vegetables and chocolate cake

Day 4 at sea Following a dawn calm reaching into a southerly wind at up to 6 knots before reefing down as darkness fell to make 4 to 5kn on a course of 220 deg. Rain showers, which missed us, disturbed wind flow and gradually reduced boat speed to 1-2kn. Motoring again until 7am when sails were set for a couple of hours before wind dropped to 5kn. Back under motor. Perhaps the downside of the ARC, as in any rally, is the fixed departure date which has not coincided with a suitable weather window.

The option to divert to Mindelo and see Cape Verdes whilst waiting for a weather window is very attractive. An ARC Plus Plus is forming. Alongside yachts Saphir and Catara for almost 24 hours. We thought we had a crew member with seasickness upon departure but turns out that it is a stomach bug which is being passed around. You could hardly blame seasickness when you look at the mill pond that we are motoring through. Our sixteen year old daughter is therefore having a great time running the boat for a fair proportion of the night.

Vital sadistics: Veg rotting quickly. High % of carrots thrown over the rail, others saved by surgery. 395 miles to Cape Verdes (a possible 395 more litres of fuel)

Sea calm & sky blue

From the galley: Chinese Noodles Chicken and homemade coleslaw 1 Papaya, 1 Mango, Cereal Freshly made Chocolate Cake

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Day 3 Wind?

Morning of Day 3. Wind overnight left the rig banging in the swell as the breeze fell below 8 knots. Started motoring. Wind now 4 knots SSE and grib files show no wind/headwinds until at least Dec 1st, about 5 days time, so we are now on course to Mindelo to wait for a change in weather. Current ETA under sail would be just under 40 days not factoring in the expected headwinds. Expect to see a large number of ARC boats at anchor unless the outlook changes suddenly or they are secretly fitted with oars. An ARC Office guide to Mindelo would be appreciated to aid our arrival. Our veg is neatly packed away. This will turn out to be a bit of a mistake in the coming days.

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The Start, Days 1 & 2 at Sea

We let the lines go in relatively warm sunshine and headed out from the now almost clear wall from which the race boats and large yachts had all left. The wall was packed with spectators and well wishers. We were in no particular hurry to mix it up at the front so we moved at our own pace. We fell in nose-to-tail as we were funnelled toward the marina exit, creeping along and often just holding position, the band played, the fuel pontoon rocked, and we held our place inthe procession. By the time we were through the emotionally charged gate, the ends of the harbour wall, we knew we were committed and that we wouldn’t be seeing land for about three weeks. It was a great feeling to be under way at last; no more checks, no more 4am parties, no more project lists with fast closing deadlines. If it hadn’t been done at this point it was now too late.

Moving down to the start line the skies darkened. It didn’t take long to drift downwind onto the start line so we did a u-turn and headed back upwind. Passing close to another ARC yacht looking at us heading the wrong way we just shouted across “We forgot the milk!”

The start gun sounded, we were under sail, a huge front moved across the start line and in came a squall. Visibility dropped and somewhere ahead were a couple of hundred yachts, at least they were there a minute ago! And so the ARC began in rain, wind, poor visibility and in fact relatively unfavourable passage weather for the days ahead.

We hit the wind acceleration zone toward the south of the island. It was bizarre with clusters of yachts often 50 metres apart. One would suddenly get hit with 25knots of wind whilst the one immediately head was motionless in a flat calm. We had a Pogo alongside, one minute not moving, then almost knocked down, suddenly flying from our starboard to port sides totally out of control. Then we got blasted by a gust while the guy immediately ahead moved across our bows at close quarters but barely moving. We elected to get some sea room and headed eastwards to avoid more of the acceleration zone and to get some clean air offshore.

Talking to others it was a quiet night within the main fleet to the south of the island. As darkness fell we started to pick up a steady Force 7 and reefed down to genoa only and started our run. At some time during that night food poisoning started to creep up on the crew. We initially confused it with seasickness but the latter isn’t something that we normally get troubled by. It took us the next few days as one crew member then the next went down with the affliction. It wasn’t pleasant. I missed one of my night shifts during the worst 12 hours.

Air has been very turbulent up to 200 miles south of Canaries so first we went east, then across the swell (yuk) to avoid shallows off Africa, then when clear of the coast turned south to run on the other tack at about 220 degs. Beautiful day today until about 4pm when our hydraulic h/sail furling packed up. Our initial reactions were to look at returning to Las Palmas, or going to Mindelo, and possibly to carry on. We consulted a number of boats on the ARC radio net and after an hour on course for Mindelo we switched back to a St Lucia heading.

Just been on deck for a 1am walk around and the emergency manual furling is totally smooth and easy so I again tried the hydraulics. Seems to be working but I can’t be sure it’s operating normally due to engine noise which prevents me from listening to the unit. Motoring as winds dropped to 4-8kn and the swell was bashing the rig.

ARC Nets proving to be fantastic on SSB and VHF. Starblazer’s evening virtual cocktail party on VHF was a great social occasion. Only issue we have is SSB voice turns off our autopilot computer. Boat still quiet due to reducing levels of seasickness and adjusting to watches of 3 hours on/3 off. Vital sadistics:

Miles sailed last 24 hours:130.1

Miles to go:2508.1

ETA: who knows! From the Galley Chinese noodles & Green Pepper Pate Spag Bol re-cooked 3 times Homemade guacamole with nachos Oranges: 2 down Apples: 2 down Avocados: 2 down

Pictures Las Palmas and the Start1404410_581061048634159_1563078395_o copy.jpg

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Weary Traveller

DSC02028 GOPR5493Our traveller is being filled in by a welder as it is 50% worn through by the mainsheet shackle. It was a two day job to remove and so far a 1 day job to fit. Sourcing an M12 countersunk bolt took a couple of days. And of course I borrowed an impact driver which had the only bit of it’s kind in Europe; a drag bar socket made for American jeeps. Then I find the poor guy who lent it to me is paid crew and he had to tell the owner…