Rich Wilson

Sail Changes

19 Feb

We made very good speeds yesterday, right up against my tolerance for stress and waiting for something to break. I think the only way past that is to do more of it, but coming down the homestretch of the Vendée Globe after 100+ days at sea is not the time for that. With fractional gennaker, staysail, and one reef in the mainsail, and wind from 20-24 knots, we were making hight teens and into the low 20s. There was really no point to that at this stage, so I went to the routine for putting an extra reef in the ...

Read More

Through the Azores

16 Feb

Yesterday we had a long fast run toward the Azores. Finally deciding on common sense to go straight for France when we could, rather than follow the routing north, we made many miles toward the finish. Curiously, I had aimed at Faial in the Azores as a target way back near the equator. It seems approximately the southerly limit of the storm tracks, and the northern limit of the Azores high light winds.

En route east, in the middle of the night, we had the AIS alarm go off, a ship nearly dead ahead heading at us from 20 miles ...

Read More


14 Feb

We had strong winds last night as the beginning of the big depression started to move to our area. Actually, ours was a secondary depression to the primary big one off the New England coast and forecast to move North Northeast. We are lucky that it is not headed this way as it has very strong winds in it. The Azores High is looking to re-establish itself on an axis between the Azores and the Bay of Biscay, and this is forecast to fend off the big depression. Actually, there are a slew of confused small systems between Azores and ...

Read More

Off the Coast of Morocco

13 Feb

Mrs. Sudlow’s class in Agadir, Morocco

We are well off the coast of Morocco. Today, we made a nice little video for one of our sitesALIVE! classes that is in Agadir, Morocco. They are only half a kilometer from the beach and said they were going to go look out to sea when we were at about the same latitude. So we reciprocated with a short video greeting to them, Mrs. Sudlow’s class in Agadir. That was really nice.

Had a very long night last night. Our weather conditions were variable, which is a charitable way to say it. We ...

Read More

The Harmattan

12 Feb

Harmattan in the Genoa Swivel

We encountered an interesting condition today, the harmattan, which is when the fine powder sand of the Sahara Desert is blown out to sea. We are about 1250 miles west of the desert. When I went to lower the genoa cable (a mast supporting cable in place of the genoa sail if that is in its bag) I noticed that the white cover was tinted a light brown. And further up within the swivel for that cable, I could see this same fine dust.

We first encountered harmattan in 1993 on our San Francisco Boston ...

Read More

Out of the Trades

11 Feb

We are finally out of the worst of the pounding of the trade winds, we still have 15-25 knots of wind, but the direction has shifted from Northeast to East approximately, and the seas have followed, so as we head North, we are not going so much into the waves.

There is still a tremendous amount of spray coming over the boat, and sitting at the chart table at night it seems that every few minutes there is the ‘donk’ of a flying fish ricocheting off the coach roof. Sometimes they are deflected over the boat and back into the ...

Read More

20 Degrees North

10 Feb

We’ve reached the 20 degree north line, which is approximately the outer limits for the trade winds. They’ve moved north a little bit, over the last couple of days, so we’re still in them, but they should be diminishing in the next 24 hours or so.

20 degrees north is a good milestone. We’re generally aiming in the direction of the Azores. The routing based on these forecasts is all over the place. The weather reports are 6 hours apart and may go in completely different directions. One might go off towards Cape Finisterre. We had one routing that went ...

Read More

Pounding Along

9 Feb

We are at the latitude of the windward leeward islands down in the Caribbean and just about half way across Africa. We are getting occasional notifications through the Inmarsat-C, reports about piracy, warnings to stay away from some of the coastal towns off Western Africa. So we’re in that range, but quite a ways off.

We are crashing as we go across the trade winds, pounding along. It is hard to imagine that everything holds together. Sometimes it doesn’t, but hopefully it will. I think every skipper that I’ve heard from ahead that has gone through this thinks that this ...

Read More

Safety Below Deck

8 Feb

Through the night we continued to make progress north. The trade winds have been moderate so far, which is far easier on the boat and skipper. Nonetheless, there have been some tremendous crashes that rattle every corner and joint of the boat.

The chart table bench is athwartship in the boat, and on a pivot, so that you can make it somewhat horizontal, even if the boat, with fully canted keel, and 3 or 4 ballast tanks filled with 3 or 4 tons of water, is still heeling at 25-30 degrees. I make the bench as horizontal as possible then ...

Read More

Into the Northeast Trades

7 Feb

Finally, the Northeast trades arrived, or we worked our way far enough north to get into them. They have been more North Northeast than Northeast, and we’ve been sailing higher I think than the others before, relative to the wind, but only because we have less of it, around 15 knots.

With 2 reefs and the staysail, we were at about 9.5 knots, so this morning went back to the solent, and got to about 10.5-11 knots. But we are now at the maximum for the solent and will have to go back to the staysail shortly. I know that ...

Read More

More from the AIM Marine Group