Rich Wilson

Shocking & Noisy & Bouncy

14 Jan

Every 6 hours I get a new GRIB file for the weather forecasts. Every 6 hours it seems that the essence stays the same, but the wind strengths at Cape Horn increase. I plot out various scenarios, trying to keep moving, but with an idea to stay near the north of the depression for lighter winds than out at the periphery where it is 30-35 knots now.

We have tack gybed several times in the last 24 hours. Last night we also maneuvered to miss the Estimated Drift Position of various possible icebergs spotted by satellite on December 21. A ...

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An Eventful 24 Hours

13 Jan

What an eventful 24 hours. We were in the bulls-eye of the strong winds for the depression. Solent to staysail to storm jib, and 1 reef to 2 reefs to 3 reefs in the mainsail. A big sea built, and it was, as usual, cold and gray. We had 35 knots of wind, and although the polars call for more sail than I had, I still felt it was correct for me.

Finally, I thought it would be best if we tried to escape to the south, and so tack-gybed, which we accomplished in the big seas gratifyingly. We headed ...

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In the Depression

12 Jan

Wednesday, January 11th: The depression that is forecast approaches. As we are 4th in the group, we will likely get it the worst, since it will slide to the East Northeast, and with the confinement of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, which goes East Southeast, there is unlikely to be an escape south, along the AEZ, except for the front 2 of our group. If we would be stationary, it would sweep over us in half a day. Since we will move with it, it will be 18-24 hours ,maybe 30-36, before we can get away from it.

Thursday, January ...

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A Chat with Jonny Malbon

10 Jan

The defining characteristic of these past few days has been gray, gray, gray, overcast and gray. It seems as though we have not seen the sun substantively, except of one afternoon last week, for weeks. Amazing, and one hopes that that will change.

We have 1500 nautical miles to Cape Horn. We have passed into the Rocky Mountain Time Zone, and more pertinent to ship operations, our Inmarsat-C has logged out of the satellite for POR, Pacific Ocean Region, and logged onto AOR-W, Atlantic Ocean Region – West (there are four satellites in all, two in the Atlantic, East and ...

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Halfway Across the Pacific

8 Jan

We stayed just in front of the strongest winds of the second depression, and squeezed up against the high. As that depression then slid Southeast, the wind relaxed. The group ahead were slowing, already within the high, and prevented by the Antarctic Exclusion Zone from finding better winds to the south.

So in the last 24 hours, we were very lucky to still have the wind, and have been able to gain many miles on the group, in essence bringing the wind to them. We won’t catch and pass anyone likely, although we are within about 20 miles of Alan, ...

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Extra: Spiritual Force

7 Jan

At sea, there’s skill and then there’s luck. Sailors need equal measures of both.

This year’s Vendée Globe is proof that skill is sometimes not enough. Eleven out of the original 29 starting skippers have had to abandon the race because of various types of bad luck, including collision with unidentified floating objects and autopilot failures leading to dismasting.

Considering the importance of chance, it’s no wonder that sailors are a superstitious lot, appealing to a host of spiritual powers to protect and bless their voyages. One spiritual power that has played a particular role for us is Tin Hau,

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The First Adventurer

6 Jan

We got through the night OK, close reaching across the waves and into them a little bit, with staysail and 2 reefs in the mainsail. Mostly 25 knots of wind, and 30 plus across the deck. The motion was tolerable except for the occasional huge crash , but the noise was what became intolerable. The constant howling of the wind through the rigging just reminds you, second, to second to second, that it is not hospitable outside. That is reinforced by the noise of sheets of spray, from almost every wave, hitting the cabin top. The combination puts the nerves ...

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Sunshine & Blue Sky

5 Jan

Our plan to stay east in front of the next depression was a good one, and we mostly have done that , but have been caught by the front of the depression as it moves Southeast. Plus, given that there is a merging of highs forecast into one big High in the center of the Pacific, the only way past is to go Southeast ourselves to ultimately try to squeeze between the wall of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone and the High. The AEZ rears its ugly head again in closing off options. So the route to the Southeast has reduced ...

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Pacific Swells

5 Jan

This has been the nicest day of sailing that we’ve had in one might say months, which is probably just about true. We’ve had a lot of sunshine, we’ve had some clouds along the way and about 15 knots of wind. And had a strange motion to the boat today, which is a result of a leftover swell from the previous depression. Watch this video for the explanation and the rest of today’s ship’s log.


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Gray, Gray, Gray

3 Jan

Today we are trying to get to the east enough to be spared the next depression, or at least the worst of the next depression. But we have light winds and are in the southern part of a small pressure system.

Although the boat specifications call for the downwind gennaker, or fractional gennaker, we decided to go for the genoa, which is a primarily an upwind sail, but can be used downwind also, and thus has more versatility. The forecasts suggest we will have downwind (now) and upwind later, and I am frankly too tired to do two of those ...

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