Rich Wilson

Extra: Chart Table Tour

12 Dec

Ever wonder what the chart table looks like, on an Open 60, that racing in the Vendée Globe? Skipper Rich Wilson gives you a tour of some of the instruments that are critical for his navigation, communication, and maneuvering, while sailing around the world.



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Surprise Wind Shift

11 Dec

Last night I went for a nap on a cloudless 2/3 moon night with a starry sky. 30 minutes later I was awakened by the boat laboring, with another mini front with 35-40 knots of wind in it. I was able to just get the fractional gennaker rolled up with seconds to spare when the high winds hit. The wind shift also took us off to the northeast. Due to the big wind shift, eventually I decided that we had to gybe to the other direction. (Actually we’ve been tacking, not gybing, as ifs safer for the boat.)

Then, I ...

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Onward toward Isles de Crozet

10 Dec

Last evening we had a Skype Video with my friends in the Finn Class of France. The Finn is an Olympic class boat, and especially difficult and physical to sail. My friend Christophe Jean sails one and is a member, and during our project development through the years, he has invited me to their annual fete which is held the first Friday of the Paris Boat Show. Through the years, I have met many of these sailors. And what a pleasure to be able to see their faces, and have a brief chat, from here in the Indian Ocean. They ...

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Camaraderie Among Solo Sailors

9 Dec

Last night the next front came through, about 3-4 hours earlier than forecast. I was taking a nap, and suddenly the boat started pounding – crash crash – crash – as if going upwind, or at least into the waves, which we were. The wind had shifted with the front by 100 degrees, and so we were sailing due North. I got my foul weather gear on to go on deck, and then went through the protocol that I had thought through earlier. Gybing will be more dangerous than tacking, so I rolled up the staysail (we had the staysail ...

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35 knots of Wind Through the Night

8 Dec

Last night, with 25-30 knots of wind, we went down to the staysail and mainsail with 3 reefs. Into the dark night, the wind increased, until we had a steady 35-38 knots. Fortunately, we had the best sail combination up, our smallest sails essentially, before extraordinary jumps to the 4th reef or the storm jib. It’s not quite clear where we would be at a steady 50 knots for a sail combination, since our options begin to be limited. Nonetheless, last night’s combination was the correct one for us.

The boat was still flying with that reduced sail and 35 ...

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More Work on the Hydrogenerator

7 Dec

Another full day, and the days and nights run together in one long continuous cycle, so that sometimes its hard to remember what happened today and what happened yesterday.

After yesterday’s near catastrophe with the fractional gennaker in the white squall, I re-hoisted it this morning and went to unroll it. It unrolled halfway. Somehow, in the chaos of yesterday, some part of the roll caught on itself. I headed the boat into the wind to hope that it would shake itself free. It did, and unrolled, and then I could see that it was undamaged by yesterday.

A big ...

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Caught in a Squall

6 Dec

What a day. Although we had crossed the significant Prime Meridian a few days ago to enter the Eastern Hemisphere, today we crossed 20 degrees East, which goes through Cape Agulhas, the southern most tip of Africa, and signals to the mariner the entrance to the Indian Ocean.

As a depression to the south was moving past us to the east, we would get the northern of the winds, and their strength and changing direction. In the morning, to be a good mariner, I went to lower the rolled up fractional. It likely would have been fine in the stronger ...

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Learning New Protocols

5 Dec

Last night and today, after the fractional gennaker was put back in service, our education continued.

It is essentially impossible to put a reef in the mainsail while going downwind. One can winch down on the luff reef lines, but one is putting a huge load on them while trying to get the sail down. It is being blown against the rigging. We have tried heading up so that the sail will flag back away from the rig, but with one of the gennakers, we can’t get close enough to the wind.

So I thought that perhaps the protocol should ...

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Making a Repair at Sea

4 Dec

Yesterday, a small breakage gave a big problem. Today, we have made a repair and are back near 100% on it.

The fractional gennaker, which I have been growing to like with its manageability (compared to the masthead gennaker) and versatility (compared to the narrow wind application of the masthead sail), had its lashing at the bottom of the sail, connecting it to the furling cable, come apart. Fortunately, this must have happened just after most of the sail was furled, otherwise, one can turn the furling cable but it will just spin in the sail until the top of ...

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A Sea-Going Episode

3 Dec

It’s a big day to cross into a new hemisphere. Like crossing the Equator, yesterday we crossed the Prime Meridian, watching the West longitude change to East longitude on the GPS. Now we are out of both of our comfort zones, the Northern and Western Hemispheres!

Into the night, with another blow coming, we decided to head east for a bit to let the bulk of the storm pass to our south. We sailed with two reefs in the mainsail and the fractional gennaker. In the middle of the night, we got over 30 knots of wind, not forecast, and ...

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