Running the Numbers

24 Jan

Day 71

Noon Position: 48 31S 32 31W

Course/Speed: E7

Wind: NW to 20

Sail: Big Genoa, out full, wind on port quarter

Bar: 1010

Sea: NW6

Sky: FOG!!! And drizzle, all day

Cabin Temp: 56

Water Temp: 45

Miles last 24-hours: 162

Miles since departure: 9241

How far is it back to Cape Horn? How long should the circuit take? What can I expect when I get there?

I do the distance math every day it seems, if not on paper, then in my head, each time hoping to find a carry-the-one error that will magically reduce the miles. ...

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ROUND BARBADOS MEMORIES: The Most Fun Race I Ever Sailed

23 Jan

race start

I have studied with some interest the results of the most recent running of the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race, which this year boasted a record-breaking seven race records broken. I was amused too to see that it was billed as the 82nd running of the event. A deft bit of marketing I reckon, as the race, in its current form, was but two years old when I sailed it in 2012. At that time it purported to be a reincarnation of a much older round-island competition amongst trading schooners that dated back to the 19th century. Tradition has ...

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Collision and death in the Volvo Ocean Race

23 Jan
Vestas 11th Hour Racing after colliding with a Chinese fishing boat
I have been wanting to write about the collision that happened in the Volvo Ocean Race between Vestas 11th Hour Racing and a fishing boat at the end of Leg 4, but still, need more facts before I can put together something that makes sense. The accident resulted in the death of a Chinese fisherman. As you can imagine both Vestas and the Volvo Ocean Race media team are being very vague about things and word is that Vestas have quite wisely lawyered up with a local law firm
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Make and Mend

22 Jan

Day 70

Noon Position: 48 01S  36 23W

Course/Speed: ESE7

Wind: WNW25

Sail: Working jib, one tuck

Bar: 1011

Sea: W7

Sky: Overcast, Fog

Cabin Temp: 62

Water Temp: 50

Miles last 24-hours: 146

Miles since departure: 9079

After a fantastic three-day flight, the poled-out twins came down around midnight. Wind had faded with the day and shifted north, and I couldn’t bend that rig round any more without feeling silly.

We ran till dawn with the large genoa full and free, a breeze on the port quarter just strong enough to fill it. The sail glowed like a ...

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Dumb luck or not – you decide

22 Jan
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag – Leg 4 winners

Like many other sailors out there I have become a tad obsessed with the Volvo Ocean Race tracker especially at the start and finish of each leg. And I confess that  in the last few days I have been keeping a close eye on the Hong Kong entry Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Some that read my stuff on a regular basis will know that I am not a big fan of David Witt, the skipper, although I have never met him and he may indeed be a great guy in person. ...
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Bonaire for cruisers: more than diving

22 Jan


Bonaire: more than a dive destination? For most visitors, diving is THE reason to go, and it was certainly the lure for us to select Bonaire among the Dutch Antilles. But our planned “about a week” turned into nearly three: partly thanks to a circle of friends, but also because the island offered more than we anticipated: easy living for cruisers and non-underwater-based fun, like these beautiful flocks of flamingos. It’s much more than diving: here’s a rundown of how Bonaire hit the mark for our crew.

Welcome to Bonaire!

Clearance was among the easiest anywhere. One office, a three ...

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Observations of a Stranger

21 Jan

Day 69

Noon Position: 48 05S 39 44W

Course/Speed: ENE 6-7

Wind: W 17

Sail: Twins poled

Bar: 1014

Sea: W to 10

Sky: Clear, bright sun

Cabin Temp: 58

Water Temp: 51

Miles last 24-hours: 179. Best single day for miles yet, I believe.

Miles since departure: 8993

I am a stranger in a strange land, an alien exploring an environment for which he is wholly unsuited, can barely comprehend. I cannot swim with the white-sided dolphins. I cannot fly with the chocolate petrel. I cannot surf the waves they both surf. Disassociated from my ship, I am dead ...

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A Fine Day For Sailing

20 Jan

Day 68

Noon Position: 48 40S 43 54W

Course/Speed: SE 7+

Wind: WNW 25

Sail: Twins poled out, heavily reefed

Bar: 1002

Sea: W8

Sky: Rain

Cabin Temp: 61

Water Temp: 51

Miles last 24-hours: 164

Miles since departure: 8754

We’ve been sailing with the twins poled out for three and a half days.

It’s a fine way to make miles.

The Commodore, whose father, Warwick Tompkins wrote 50 SOUTH TO 50 SOUTH, tut-tutted when he saw Mo’s sail configuration. His boat, Flash Girl, was undergoing a refit at KKMI in Richmond at the same time Mo and I were ...

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19 Jan

Day 67

Noon Position: 48 42S 47 48W

Course/Speed: ESE 5

Wind: WNW 10

Sail: Both headsails poled out

Bar: 1006

Sea: Flat

Sky: Overcast, squalls to windward

Cabin Temp: 65 (because I’m baking bread)

Water Temp: 49

Miles last 24-hours: 89

Miles since departure: 8590

I put myself on short sleep last night because the weather forecast called for an increasing wind that would shift into the west. Both big headsails were poled out at the time, Mo could be easily overpowered, and I wanted to be ready to take action if needed.

Each hour I rose, it was ...

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Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag win into Hong Kong

19 Jan
Scallywag approaching the finish line in Hong Kong

It was a hometown heroes welcome for David Witt and his crew aboard Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag as they rocketed into Hong Kong to take their first leg win of the Volvo Ocean Race. The racing had been intense since the Scallywag team snatched a surprising come-from-behind lead as the hunters hunted them with every bit of grit and determination, but they fended off all challengers by employing a well known inshore tactical strategy; they placed themselves squarely between those chasing and the finish line, and the tactic paid in spades. By

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