Suffice to say the wind soon dropped in the final few days although usually enough to keep us moving in the rolling swell generated by the recent typhoon off Japan Save one nightof swirly winds ,rain,cold and twirly helms We had sailed ourselves firmly into 5th position ahead of Zhuhai andwith Halong Bay well to the south. Fortunately the wind had moved forward of the beam meaning spinnakers were not required. Yes ,something happened again the shackle connecting the bobstay to the bow had mysteriously dissappeared,and lines of the bobstay were hanging limply dipping in the sea. The bobstay runs from the end of the bowsprit to low low down on the bow providing a countertraction when a spinnaker is set off the bowsprit – so spinnakers not possible
Anyway the fleet had compressed on the final day such that we could see Bermuda ahead and Zhuhai behind who were bearing away for more speed a vain attempt at making us think they were gaining. So round the final turning mark we went ,Bermuda 4th ,Sanya 5th, Zhuhai 6th and that’s where the rewards should have been for 6500 miles of sailing. But no. Instead the race committee have set a finish off a sheltered point where the sea compresses into a channel and the current is going faster than any breeze. All 3 of us get pushed past the finish line and have to sail back to it Hours later Halong Bay get pushed across the line,just!, and take 4th place and are followed a while later by Seattle.
The next incident should never have occurred. Diring a radio conversation between Zhuhai and us Zhuhai inform us that they are not going to attempt to sail back to the line and are retiring from the race – but they also had a 6 hour time penalty due to a previous breach that had to be applied. Bermuda,who have been pushed further away, are thinking the samebut have not retired. This unfortunately puts a mindset into the skipper first mate and some of the crew that retiring from this race after all we’ve been through is somehow a possibility! This is now put to a vote by the crew. However the crew are under the impression that both yachts ahead have retired(untrue) and that it’s going take 12 hours to wait for favourable currents to get across a finish line 1.5 miles away. In disgust after putting in my vote I head back upstairs to join Afshin at the helm. The vote is 7 to 4 in favour of retiring. Up at the helm (it is night),I note our compass heading is at the finish but our course is actually backwards away from where we need to go. Within minutes however we are making 1/2 a knot at a COG of 230 degrees towards the finish. Yes it might 3 hours ,maybe more, maybe less. WTF, we’ve been out here for the 36 days,who on earth thinks of tossing in the towell at this point. But there is no re assessment of the situation , there is no re discussion ,there is no updating of the crew with current situation .Had the hitherto radio conversation not occurred none of this would have come to pass. The Yankee is inexorably dropped ,and our speed plummets. I congratulate Afshin on his efforts. (In the end Bermuda don’t retire and finish 7th,and had we been out there they would have had to comepast us). After the next days motoring Bermuda dock in Seattle barely a few hours after us. Nuff said.
Unfortunately as you now no due to COVID I don’t get on the next race. Such is life.
We enter the ‘Ocean Sprint ‘. This is an area where there are 2 lines drawn on the map and no matter where you are when you get the 3 yachts with the fastest times between those lines get extra points.In this case the distance is 250 miles. Initially it is a fast close reach but later winds are less favorable . What we do well is pick the favorable gybes compared to the yachts around us. We entered behind Zhuhai and now are ahead of them,again, and we are now neck and neck with Halong Bay who were well ahead previously. It’s a little less cold with the wind from the south . As we find out 2 weeks later we were 3rd behind Korea by an hour and so we get one extra point. Qingdao who came through 2 weeks later win it bymore than 8 hours.
I wrote a song which was the story of our race pretty. I caught by surprise by Shiyi our media person- we were just practicing!!
Zhuhai and Sanya Saga Lyrics
yes we did it again
we sailed past Zuhaii
we sailed past Zuhaii
oh yes we did
we broke our mainsail
Took a long time to fix
downwind under staysail
in 40 knots
our backing plate broke
we sailed under bare poles
in the wrong direction in40 knots for a whole day
then beat back into it and we lost at least a 100 miles
we broke our main halyard
our main halyard
it snapped like a twig rpt
Mary went up the mast
to drop down a string
a new halyarrd was done
and Zuhaii went by
Zuhaii clawed their way back
sailed well through the night
they were ahead alongside
we sailed through a storm
and Clyde held his form
kept us downinD
in 50 knots ,then
Zuhaii broached really bad
they sat on their side
They sat on their side
came out a 100 metres ahead
then they put in a reef
they had some grief
they had some grief
chorus (variation Mike at the wheel)
but our headboard was broke
we couldn’t unreef
Zuhaii with more sail
went by again
then we entered the sprint
we got a favorable gybe
The next morning we have two 40 plus knot squalls ,the second hitting 50 knots at its peak. I manage the coach Sir Clyde through the situation and he experlty keeps us downwind at an angle 160 degrees plus. This prevents us rounding up.
I look to starboard of us. Zhuhaii ,who have been gradually catching us again, are less than a nautical mile south. They have rounded up ,this is a situation where the pressure of sails forcing the yacht to turn into the wind have overcome the turning force of the rudder and the rudders has stalled and the helmsman no longer has control. Because you’ve sailing downwind you have alot of sail up so as the yacht turns into the wind the yacht heels over long way like at a 50 or 60 degrees.The boom is usually dragging in the water the sails are flapping ,the rig is shaking and there is a lot of noise. Zhuhai is an eery sight ,it is still dark but the coming dawn light is reflecting off her sails which are nearly on the water. She looks like a ghost as she sits there on her side for a long time ,like 2 to 3 minutes before they finally gain control. They had been passing but now ,just as the dawn breaks they come out just a 100 metres directly ahead of us. It is surreal that we’ve been at sea for weeks sailed maybe 5000 miles and there are 2 yachts so close together. They still have their main topped up and are putting in a second reef which takes them a while. And we sail past ………again
<span;>Soon the waves are as big as houses and the conditions demand a 3rd reef.
In the evening I am on mother watch cooking when we hear a big wave hit us side on and the water floods the cockpit and washes one of the crew into the handle of the pedestal grinder. She sunstains a severe bruise over the cheek and a deep laceration to the bridge of the nose. Fortunately there is no serious head or eye injury but the laceration needs to be closed. We convert the galley into a mini casualty . Now obviously I’ve sutured thousands of lacerations . Fortunately sitting on same surface as the patient means I’m moving at the same time as she is as I inject local anaesthetic and neatly close the wound as the yacht moves over the 4 to 6 metre seas.
Back on deck it is noted the headboard at the top of the main is becoming disconnected from the ‘cars’ that slide along a track on the mast that keeps the mainsail connected to the mast. When we broke the halyard this was damaged and Mary had put some lashing round to fix it and was now coming undone. When the wind drops we are unable to shake the reef out and have to wait for more benign conditions to fix it . So we sail a little underpowered in waves as big as houses and yes Zhuhai sail by !!!
Today started as as April 13 but we crossed the dateline back to yesterday. The code 2 goes up but we only get 40 minutes out of it . Really it should have been launched a lot earlier and we would have got a few hours out of it. The wind has got up again so it is a brute of a drop with A team foredeck crew of Afshin, Cameron and Rick on the coach roof. For a change we have a
cruisy night with the moon out and a clear sky.
By morning we have nice white sail reaching conditions.
The other watch are reaching at over 20 knots several times but the sea and wind are a bit more subdued by our turn. We still average over 10 knots .
There is little bit of Cafe Sanya ,I play yesterday of course.
I hear the yacht surfing as i go off to sleep.
People are and happy relaxed .
We are finally heading fast eastwards toward our destination.
Next morning we turned more southward to get a better angle on an expected wind shift.The days are the same, cold and overcast, winds of 20, 25, 30 knots seas to 4 metres ,not as cold on the hands with more southerly breeze. Just the
routine of boat life ongoing .It’s lentil curry tonight ,a crew favorite.
I reproduce my Easter email to my kids in which I tried to give them an idea of what things are like.
Hi kids,life out here at sea is just the one day after the other ,sail,eat,sleep repeat.So really no idea of the days or what might be happening anywhere.So hope you’re having a happy Easter ,just happened to hear it is good Friday today ,at least here. A few days ago we crossed the international date line so our clocks went back a full day.My watch is on Honolulu time but the north Pacific up here at 44 to 45 degrees latitude is rather chilly.A few days ago at our morning watch change it snowed! Is relatively easy to keep the body warm with multiple layers under the drysuit but keeping hands warm nearly impossible. Few days ago became a bit easier when the wind turned more southerly. We’ve just gybed on a favorable northerly shift and wind blowing is rather cold again. Oddly it’s rare to see the sun out here there is pretty much continual cloud which is a stark contrst to the Southern Ocean where there were plenty of clear skies between the cloud days. Conditions have been relatively benign with the max wave around 6 metres and not 17metres that’s sometimes reported out here. The yacht is charging along at 11knots avg(the speed of a cruisy bike ride)so well over 200 miles a day .We have 600 miles to the end of the ‘ice limit’ which is a line at 45 degrees latitude we have to stay south of to avoid icebergs then we can turn further north towards the finish a further 1000 miles a way .Then we will motor up the waterways to Seattle .So maybe a bit more than a week to be in port.
<span;>Hope you’re all well and having a happy Easter ,guess Lachie will up for his first Easter egg hunt.
love Dad from somewhere between Russia Japan and America.