Rich Wilson

Catching Our Breath

2 Jan

It’s January 2nd, 2200 GMT, and our position is 45 degrees south, and 162 degrees west. We’ve had a difficult last 24 hours with the storm and the front approaching, getting through the front, very challenging, made some maneuvers that didn’t go quite as planned, but we have come out the other side and are heading north, to get a little more north before the next depression comes along. So we’re not going along with the depression to the east, yet, but in about 3 or 4 hours we’ll turn, this way we’ll have the opportunity to get ...

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In the Gale

1 Jan

We are in the gale. We have 35-40 knots of wind now and it looks as though this will last for another 18 hours. Then we get to the center of the storm, and then the same, about 24 hours of storm from the south. Depressions rotate clockwise here in the Southern Hemisphere, thus the two directions on opposite sides of the storm.

We have 3 reefs in the mainsail and the storm jib up. We are trying to be very conservative to save the staysail that was laboring in the beginning of the storm with a higher wind angle. ...

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Crossing the International Date Line

31 Dec

A big event happened today – crossing the International Date Line, from East Longitude, to West Longitude. We are opposite on the Planet from Greenwich, UK, where the Prime Meridian is. Think of it, we are upside down from them – or – they are upside down from us. Especially since we are at almost the exact Latitude also. And for that, we passed in the night the Antipodes Islands, named for that fact of being opposite to Greenwich, UK.


Now, we start counting down longitude, toward Cape Horn, toward France, although at the moment, both seem very far ...

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And So We Go North

30 Dec

As the smaller low changed the wind direction on us, we gybed northeast. Not only did we have to do that for that low, but there are two depressions coming from New Zealand in the next week, and after much study, we decided to try to get north far enough to minimize the very strong winds forecast.

We’ve sailed northeast now and the wind is shifting again, so we’ve gybed back, to try to get to stronger winds to help us. We sailed past the Antipodes Islands, opposite Greenwich on the planet, and were heading for the Bounty Islands, but ...

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A True Mariner & Friend

29 Dec

This morning I had a wonderful Skype video call with Captain Murray Lister of our Team of Experts. He and wife Jenny live in Nelson, New Zealand, on the South Island. Murray and I have been friends since he and his shipmates welcomed Steve Pettengill and me into the Pilot door aboard New Zealand Pacific, the largest refrigerated containership in the world at the time, after our double somersaulting capsize aboard the 60′ trimaran Great American at 55°S x 79°W on November 22, 1990.

Murray is a Master Mariner. All Oceans, All Tonnage. I’m not sure of the exact nomenclature, ...

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

28 Dec

Slowly we continue to catch up to the trailing edge of the depression, as the barograph has descended. The wind has stabilized at about 20 knots plus, we continue with the mainsail with 2 reefs, and fractional gennaker. But the storm is stretching out and it will slowly get quieter.

I’ve been in touch by email with Arnaud Boissieres, who was alongside us on the finger pier in LSDO for Vendée Globe 2008, and have been in touch with Eric and Alan as well.

Later today or tomorrow, I’ll have a Skype call with Murray Lister, my good friend from ...

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Chasing Down a Storm

27 Dec

We started up again yesterday when the beginning of the depression had passed over us in its early development. I’m pretty sure we started up first of the group of 4, as it seemed that unless we got going, the depression might just run away to the east of us and we’d miss latching onto the western side and having it pull us past New Zealand.

So interestingly, we closed to within 30 miles of the trio, but then, when they got going, they were, yet again, just going a knot or so faster, and so have pulled away again. ...

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Christmas at Sea

25 Dec

Christmas Day 2016, we are a long way from home, and have a long way to go. Usually in my voyages, I haven’t gotten too lonely. But today I did.

I’m sure it was exacerbated by the big depression that is forecast to develop ahead of us. The timing of this one is lucky for us, since we can slow down, let its early development sweep over us, and when it intensifies into a serious Southern Ocean storm, it will be moving away from us to the east

Yet by the fact of our slowing, essentially stopping (we were down ...

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Storm Planning on Christmas Eve

24 Dec

“This is Rich Wilson, aboard Great American IV. It’s Christmas Eve and we are down here south of Australia. We’re going to give you a little video ship’s log today, to show what I’m looking at as far as the big storm that’s coming up the day after Christmas…”


47° 47’S x 138° 30′ E
118° True
10 knots
14, 055 nm
Mainsail (2 reefs), Fractional Gennaker
True Wind Speed
15 knots
True Wind Direction
Air Temperature
61°F / 16.1°C
Sea Temperature
54°F / 12.2°C

Winch Pedestal Revolutions (daily) Amp Hours: Alternator (total) Amp
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Magnetic Variation

23 Dec

One must be careful of the Routing function of navigational software. It will give you the theoretical fastest route, but may be impractical to sail.

Earlier today, the software saw a gybe south to go to the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, then gybe back when the next system came along. It seemed enticing as our little group has gone faster and separated, the other 3, Alan, Eric, Enda remaining in the tail of stronger winds, and we being overtaken by lighter winds, so that they really were pulling away.

But a lot would have had to go precisely on the GRIB ...

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