Yacht Aditi

Day 25: The Arrival

Perhaps we should attempt to explain events of the last few hours. Most importantly we picked up the Reggae radio stations about 45 miles out. We sighted land about 30 miles out as the sun started to close the horizon and our key concerns were firstly not to hit it and second not to get blown past it. We had been working all day to avoid arriving in darkness as we wanted to take in the sights but it just wasn’t possible. As we reached the northern point of St Lucia, about a mile off, there were 3 yachts all closing the point. Although the stand on vessel Ocean Breeze cut under our bow about 200 yards ahead – can the competition for something like 220th place so intense? Coming round the top into the lee of the island where the wind went from 30kn to, you guessed it, 30kn, we passed the dark shadows of Pigeon Island. The final turn is then into Rodney Bay for the finish line. Rather than see an open bay you see an optical illusion as shaeds of light and dark look like islands right ahead, and no bay.ARC2013_CP_sml_MG_0934.jpg

Everyone arriving at night has said they questioned their plotters, charts and sanity. The finish line was tricky to find but we crossed at 20.40 on 19/12/13 local time. A photographer whizzed out in his rib and took the arrival photos. In our case we had rolled away all sail so they hardly look like the arrival on the wind of ocean sailors… Seriously loud, keel bolt shaking Reggae pounded across the bay. The next challenge is to pick your way through many, many anchored yachts, lit and unlit. Slowly we crept into the marina and were waved into a berth by a yellow shirt using one of those aircraft parking torches, very cool.

Gradually in the shadows we made out more and more of our welcoming committee from Silver Slipper, Duplicat, several yellow shirts, the rum punch guy. We were thrilled to see our friends had turned out. The pink rum punch was great. The yellow shirt guys gave us such a good welcome. Jerry suggested that perhaps we can now rest to which we said no we will buy you a beer….20 minutes later….with more and more friends we were buying the beers by the iced bucket load. Eventually we managed 2 hours sleep but then had to get up to welcome in Charlotta under tow. Berthing next door along came the rum punch guy who kindly said ‘you want some?’ and breakfast was served. 36 hours later and we have started to drift back down off the high of arrival. Thank you to everyone reading our blogs and for contacting us with your kind support and encouragement. It was a tough one.

Next day, as the sun rose, we could look around and find out what was around us. At 10.00am Charlotta arrived and were presented with their rum punch. The guy from the tourist board was well stocked and feeling generous so it was a case of more rum all round.

The last photo shows our track in yellow relative to the rest of the fleet.

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Day 23: It’s a Miracle

The ‘I’m not working beyond 200 miles offshore’ headsail furling system decided to operate again at 230nm off St Lucia! Perhaps the catastrophic mechanical noise that I was hearing was an airlock at a 1,000 psi or whatever the pressure is. Still taking it carefully… Last night we switched to staysail as it got dark and awaited the arrival of the Beast like a small village shaking in fear in a horror movie. The Beast was 4 miles to port and also to starboard so waited to be engulfed having sacrificed good speed. 18.00 hrs, nothing. 21.00 clear skies, nothing. 0300 hrs and surely it’s coming…0600? A clear night for the first time in days.

Sailing conditions were excellent this am with 15-22kn E so we removed and packed away the staysail. Darkness descended and clouds built. The Beast is back with each squall about 2-4 miles apart and 20 min gaps. Reefed and lashed at the headsail we are doing from 4kn to 9kn with peak wind 42kn. The night watch is back to being tough with every 15 mins a change. When planning 3hrs on/off shifts throw in a few squalls, bilge alarms, col regs events, wind shifts etc and then decide if it’s the experience you are looking for. Shaking like a jelly – 4th squall tonight coming, wind shift turned us 90 degs hdg Florida! ARC yacht Jambo 4nm to port is picking up the full squall.Hopes of Vegas have again turned to desert sand.

Maybe tomorrow park up the boat and throw away the keys; that’s what being out here feels like at this moment.

Vital Sadistics: DTG: (can’t we have just a few normal sailing miles for once) 113nm  Galley: Chicken Mayo Sandwich, Cottage Pie

 

Day 22: Squall Fever

Nurse(N): Doctor, Doctor, the patients are showing some signs of life
Doctor (D): Ja? You zink?
N: Ja, I mean yes, they are responding to a little music and are taking some fluids
D: Good, good, zo, they have suffered a trauma of post-ARC stress disorder
N: They have been squalled out for over a week, no sleep and on staysail for over 3 days?
D: Ja, it is the right dose for the level of squall fever zey have. Are zey delusional?
N: They mumble something about ‘got to get to Vegas’…
D: And zis morning zey took a little genoa?
N: For the first time. And there was some communication amongst them, a little nourishment was taken, they look squalid.

N: Doctor, Doctor, a patient is asking for a winch handle at all times? He is blubbing furl, unfurl, furl, unfurl over and over?
D: Zis is a serious defect zo ve vill refer it to the hydraulics, gears and motors consultant. How long since has he had the condition?
N: Since 200 miles out of Las Palmas.
D: Vy do zey have such latent onset of squall fever?
N: 30 minutes welding in Mindelo took 4 days!
D: Ja, ja zo ve vil insert a special Mindelo handicap clause in ze race calculation as zis is just not cricket.

N: Doctor, Doctor, all of them want a rum punch?
D: No I forbid it.
N: They say their COG and SOG is good and under 48 hours to run?
D: Ja, ja, ja zis is a known side effect of squall fever, too much bouncing, wild noise and surfing gives much wishful zinking. La la la.. Hysteria will follow ven TTG levels stabilise. In 36 hours we will know if it’s Elvis and Black Jack or Sorry Mac ve are closed….day turns to night, squalls gather
N: They say they reluctantly decided to play it safe and came off the genoa which was a 30 minute sail change and that has probably cost them Vegas. They are so looking forward to seeing their friends in the village.

Vital sadistics:
DTG 280nm with daytime arrival & Vegas hopes fading
Wind E over 30kn till 1300 dropping 24kn
On edge from 16.00 dodging squalls of up to 16nm long. Seastate disturbed.
Galley: Baked potato, Chicken Tikka Masalla with Pitta Bread
F&G Over the rail: two cabbages (here’s a tip, don’t buy a farm’s entire stock in Las Palmas)

Day 21: Sail review

Big seas, big wind, small appetite – again. Under staysail only, again. Hunted down by another squall, again…darkness now means OK bring it on we’re ready…and if we have to go down to the storm jib (looks like a sail stolen off a windsurfer!) then we will take it there. But rather not.

Saw a sail on the horizon today but no contact. Later talked briefly to TA-B catamaran. VHF range seems to be under 5nm in these conditions.Tonight’s squalls seem mainly about rain but it’s only 0100hrs so we will see.

After over 4,000 miles we thought we would review our sails:

Mainsail, big, powerful & fully battened. Great down Portugese Coast but far too scary for us in the Atlantic winds to set, reef or control Genoa, great sail, battened, foam luff, let down by the reefing system. Sets OK at 30 knots but forces so high something’s going to break. Pleased to wind it away.

Cruising Chute: The nice man said this is all you need for the ARC. Of course being called an A4 that sounds too familiar and comfortable to our office dwelling ears. In fact choices are all photocopy paper related A3, A4, A5. Far too heavy, far too powerful and the idea of socking it and tying it to the rail when a squall comes is a non-starter. Bit of a lemon for a short-handed crew & conditions in ARC 2013.

Staysail, pre-owned and unwanted we gave it a new home. Best decision ever made. Reduced load on rig, very settled in 30-45kn, hanked on, can’t unfurl, low risk & saved us mountains of stress. Invest in small sails as this is where the dangers lie. Our top sail on this ARC.

Storm jib; nice man said hopefully you will never use it; we have been this close to deployment and we are pleased to have it onboard as our last resort. A top sail on this ARC just by being here.

Vital sadistics:

415nm to Vegas, hold on we’re coming…

Galley: Scrambled egg on muffin, Chinese Chicken Curry w. Noodles, Chocolate Soup (mousse but impossible to keep in the bowl to whisk).

F&V overboard: 2 onions, a bag of red green peppers that pulped themselves to 50% juice. You can see why fish are not vegetarian.

Day 20: 9 out of 10

As dawn broke after a sleepless drumming with highest wind at 46.7kn we stared at a strange phenomena; everywhere you looked the sea appeared to be uphill! It seemed we were sailing up a steep incline which messed with the head. With the heat after sunrise the squalls dissipated.

By 0900 the seas were huge but beautiful, organised and perfect long waves of azure with turquoise crests shining in the sun. They gave a smooth ride in 30kn E so we set about with our new arts & crafts project, storm sail or staysail? Not much in it but the staysail is cut lower and may have more power; it was hoiked out of the forward shower, manhandled through the companionway and clipped to lifelines for a kind of drag down the deck. Once out of the bag it was keen to slip over the rail but on went the hanks, grab, hank, grab no you don’t, hank…. I cranked away at the furler and lashed the headsail to prevent the furler unwinding.

Done the deck walk many times so pleased to have a low maintenance alternative with a simple hanked on sail. Up went the tiny stay sail, the sheet barber hauled to the rail via a snatch block, and we settled steady as rock. In a 30-35kn nearby squall we were making 6kn and we were so steady that you wouldn’t even spill a ginger beer laid out as if on a Sunday picnic….then the wind died. Bang, wham, the rolling starts. Our new problem is we need min 28kn wind to keep powered up.

As the moon rose so the sea became a heaving mess and for a couple of hours we were shaking like a jelly. We have had to wait till 23.00 to get the wind back with the squalls. Our target – VEGAS PARTY – hold on were coming! All milestones plotted for arrival 1500 Thurs 19th. Vital sadistics: 566nm to go. Little sleep, stop start, 18-35n E, under staysail only, 0200 hrs now in sustained F9, bonkers.

Galley; deteriorating situation, dry pitta & pate, spaghetti & coriander pesto. More veg sent to the deep.

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Day 19: What da ya mean worse?

After yesterday’s pounding we awoke to an ARC forecast that said things were going to get worse! Bigger winds & waves. What da ya mean worse – did you see yesterday? So along came dawn and the usual roll of squalls. Then the wind started climbing to settle in the 28-33kn band with squall peaks again at 39. But the sea state was so much better than yesterday at 2-3 metres that this was a breeze. We were gliding along and having adjusted the auto-pilots max rates of turn and sensitivity levels upward the previous day all was well. We were keeping a speed that would get us to the Vegas Party! Then came 14.00hrs. No change to wind but the swell racked it up a couple of notches and we were on our way back down memory lane – almost, but yesterday was worse.

But given the forecast we set the staysail/stormsail sheets just in case. But another roll of the die – then came darkness and we thought it usually eases up at night…great. First squall and bang it’s up to Force 9 and we are doing 9kn plus surfing out of control. Reef or not….so it’s up to the bow to unlash the headsail roller, crank in more headsail and slow down, lash the roller, then lash it again just in case. Then it got worse alright…waves built, bigger gusts, more speed and we suddenly have someone on radar; we are closing ARC yacht Ocean Breeze. On AIS they are hove-to and yet are making between 4 to 9.5kn across our path and we are already a runaway train. No luck discussing the state of affairs on VHF so we feather the headsail until they pass our bow. Then we reefed again as slower felt so much better. The storm sail was hauled to the saloon. Now midnight in much bigger seas running a scrap of headsail surrounded by white foam seas getting pummelled. Gusting 45kn should have gone to storm jib.

Vital sadistics: yup sums it up. Top speed over 12kn thru water

Galley: Chicken & chilli wraps, Spaghetti & Coriander Pesto DTG – right now who cares we just hope tomorrow allows us to get back in control. All respect to the boat!

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Day 18: No Celebration at 1000nm

Just as we hit 1,000nm To Go at 8am so the day started for real. Seas very confused, squalls and wind 24 to 39kn. Seas building all day to about 5m. Any sailing club chat that waves are long etc so no issue could not be more wrong. Back winded, thrown on our beam end a few times, life onboard became hard and the ship went quiet.

A couple of waves over the stern and the coachroof. A long day. Soon after dusk sea state calmed a little but as at 2am (we just gybed as wind veered SE but now it’s back on ESE 20 mins later so we have too much south in our heading) the squalls are churning it up again. Passed Charlotta 1 and had a good chat. They are likewise not enjoying the sailing experienced from Las Palmas to current location and were pleased to have someone concur. Amazingly they said they went diving to 30m mid-Atlantic!

Vital sadistics: Enduring but not enjoying; counting down the miles 873nm DTG. Galley: pre-cooked roast chicken in a wrap with raw cabbage and sweet chilli sauce, baked potato and cheddar

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Day 18: Nothing, which is great!

Nothing happened today which is great news. Bright sunshine and 17-24kn ESE but slow progress due to lousy wave sets. Tonight much smoother in 20-27kn E under headsail only making c. 6.8kn. Clear skies and bright moon. Always rolling, lots of motion and noisy; waves hitting the hull, general water flow, wind & waves.

The Perils of Sleep: 1. Waking up mid-air whilst being thrown from one side of the cockpit to the other 2. Falling asleep whilst standing at the top of the companionway and waking as legs give way 3. Waking after a fantastic long sleep anticipating that many miles rolled off only to find it’s been just 20 minutes and barely 2 miles have passed. Sailing relatively short-handed are we tired? We don’t know as there is no stopping & no reference point so it’s just 24×7 and get on with the next shift and 100nm mark. So looking forward to breaking through 1000nm.

Vital sadistics: Whoaa where did that roll come from! DTG 1048nm From the galley: Muffins, Spaghetti Carbonara (without mushrooms)

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Day 17

Having got under headsail only in the early hours the wind built to 18-26kn Easterly so we are following our great circle route on 268 degs. The sea was a mess all day with a 10ft cross swell hitting us beam on. In the morning I got thrown out of my bench and across the cockpit about every 3 minutes, by pm I could hang in for 5 to 10 minutes and now 16hrs on I can mostly remain seated! But just when you think it’s all coming good the sea builds again… Today’s problem child? As it was getting dark (of course) found the engine exhaust syphon breaker was leaking. It has pinholes around a mounting bracket weld and this is an issue with salt water leaks and a pulsing exhaust flow that we can feel through the floor. Have removed and bounded it with silicone tape. The arrivals snagging list is growing.

Kapow! I thought the headsail block had exploded. But just another flying fish hitting the doghouse, or the Dawghouse as Duplicat would put it. Vital sadistics: DTG 1189nm, very excited at prospect of being below 1,000nm Speed SOG varying by the wave from 4 to 8.6kn Nothing sighted but catamaran TA-B just crossed bow From the Galley: Ploughmans, Burger (strange Las Palmas beef marinated in red wine although Sophie and Claire enjoyed them) & sweet potato.

DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPROOur Nav Screen & Tracking boats we know

Day 15 &16; Hot & Roll

We are rolling constantly in the swell with no wind to stabilise the boat. Carrying lots of fuel we motor past a number of yachts overnight that have decided to wait for the wind. We should probably join them but instead we will charge the batteries and tick over at low revs to keep moving although slowly.