Rich Wilson

A Sail with Eric Bellion

21 Dec

Fractional Gennaker Snaking through the boat

We had a fantastic encounter today when my friend Eric Bellion came roaring up from behind us and passed us close aboard. I had seen him coming on the position reports over the last few days. He has a ‘secret weapon’ in a special sail that Michel Desjoyeaux dreamed up and that gives him about 2.5-3 knots extra speed, and with less load on the boat. It is for downwind as we have and seems to pick the bow up a bit. See the video here, and visit Eric’s website to learn about him....

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Encounter with Enda

20 Dec

Yesterday’s rush with the big fractional gennaker was amazing. We hit 27.5 knots of boat speed on 29 knots of wind. For me, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Those speeds may be natural for Armel Le Cléac’h or Alex Thomson at the front of the fleet, but a lot less so for me. So before dark, I rolled up that sail and rolled out the smaller staysail, at about 25% of the area. We kept the 2 reefs in the mainsail. The forecast was for the wind to go to 30 through the night.

We proved ...

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Video Connections

19 Dec

Before the night, it was grey, grey, grey all day as we were in between then depressions. Then, as in the lyrics of Camelot – ‘for one brief shining moment’ – we had sunshine and the temperature shot up to 18 centigrade. I jumped at the chance to have a shower and shampoo in the cockpit, since it’s been 2 or 3 or 4 weeks since my last one somewhere off Brazil! I thought it would be interesting to see part of the process, so I made a little video of it.

Get seawater from our sink faucet (it’s too ...

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In Between Depressions

18 Dec

Last night we had a high speed power sail, still it seemed tacked onto the tail end of the previous storm. 25-30 knots of wind, 2 reefs in the mainsail, plus solent (J2), and with 25 knots of wind, we might surge to 22/23/24/25 knots of boat speed, simply thundering along, bouncing off waves, burying the bow on rare occasions, and logging miles.

There was nothing to do on deck, so I slept, with a batch of solid naps at the chart table. I had all sorts of clothes on – and then I would get into the 20 degree ...

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Watching the Barograph

17 Dec

Last night I watched the barograph, tenth of millibar by tenth of millibar rise, but incredibly slowly because essentially we were going at the same speed as the storm, and couldn’t slow down and let it go away. But finally, after many hours, I fell asleep for a nap, and when I woke up, there was a similar crashing of the chaotic sea state, but less howling of the wind, and a look at the data log of windspeed for that hour or so that I was asleep showed that the speed had come down to 25 knots.

Bohlken Baro

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A Storm Primer

16 Dec

A primer about the storm we’re currently in, in the Indian Ocean. How did choosing to go to the south turn out?




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In the Eye of the Depression

15 Dec

Last night we endured the warm front and strong winds of this depression. The barograph plummeted, the wind got up to 35-40 knots. We started with 3 reefs in the mainsail and the staysail. At 35 knots, our sail charts say that the staysail is still ok, but borderline. So to save the sail for the rest of the race, we went with the storm jib.

Earlier in the day, I had rigged the storm jib, and hoisted it to make sure everything was led properly. But then I lowered it and put it back in its deck bag. At ...

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Iceberg Watch

14 Dec

After the big 2 hour sail change effort last evening, I zipped myself into the 20° F / -6.6° C sleeping bag, and had several hour long sleeps through the night. I got up to look around a few times, but only did minor trimming of the sails.

We continue east, toward the northern end of the Kerguelen Shelf. When we get there, likely about dinnertime tonight, we’ll probably bear off and head a little East Southeast, just depending on the latest weather forecasts, to try to be in the least wind, and least headwind, area that we can find ...

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Pushing East

13 Dec

We are pushing very hard to get east across the top of the Kerguelen Shelf before the big depression gets here in 36 hours. Our plan is to then head southeast to get to where the strong winds will be at least less as the center of the depression passes over us. The Shelf is an area where it is more shallow, and so the waves will build up bigger there. If we can get across and then get into deeper water it will help.

We have never gone this fast. We hope that everything holds together. We are within ...

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A Very Cold Night

12 Dec

Yesterday I was happy to make a nice repair on the hydrogenerator leg pull down rope. But it was a bit scary. The hydrogenerator is like a reverse outboard that you put in the water and it generates electricity for the batteries. I couldn’t reach the leg from deck, but we have 2 hatches in the stern where I might, if I opened one and leaned out as far as I could, reach the leg. I would only have to get at it for a minute or two. The risk was that a big wave crest into the stern of ...

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