Rich Wilson

Dramatic Wind Shift

2 Dec

Another difficult night. The long forecast front came through on schedule, for us about midnight. The wind would shift dramatically from Northwest to Southwest (approximately) with the only unknown being how strong the wind would be, and how rapid the directional change would be.

When it happened, it happened fast. The Wind had been at about 25 knots, and it went up to 41 knots (highest that I saw), and shifted very deliberately, so that our course (which was connected to the wind direction by the autopilot function) changed from an easterly course to a northerly course.

 Front South Atlantic


 Front passage

True Wind

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Nerve-Wracking Speeds

1 Dec

A difficult night. The wind picked up, and the speeds picked up, and it is nerve-wracking. I don’t like it. We switched from the fractional gennaker to the solent to the staysail, all with 2 reefs in the mainsail, and I would have put in a 3rd if I’d had confidence that in the dark we could have gotten the mainsail halyard locked. Yesterday, when putting in the second reef, it took over an hour to get the lock to lock.

We have regularly hit speeds in the 20s, with the high being 24.7 knots just a few minutes ...

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Sail Plan for a Storm

30 Nov

Through the night we had steady speeds, but not so high as the others. In a confused weather system, some will find wind, and some find less wind. I tried to force some extra sleep, as without the wind, there is little you can do to improve the speed.

In the back of everyone’s mind was the big blow forecast for tonight. And so early this morning I went forward and proceeded with the necessary sail changes. First, the genoa (our big, masthead, upwind sail) that was rolled up had to come down and be packed in its bag on ...

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Waiting for the Right Wind

29 Nov

Through the night we had a diversity of conditions, culminating with the 90 degree wind shift when we reached the center ridge of the high pressure system, identified by the barograph. Oddly, it was almost 90 miles earlier than the weather forecasts indicated. I was able to turn off the autopilot before it reached its ‘low boat speed alarm’, as the wind had dropped to 2 knots, and the boat didn’t know what to do. If I don’t get to the pilot before that alarm, sometimes it forces you to re-boot the whole system.

Anyway, we got through that in ...

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Tanker Sighting

28 Nov

A beautiful afternoon with blue sea and blue sky. Sailed with genoa from midnight on. Flew school flags for photos.

ga4-tankerappolonia-3kwpx-gopr0752-cropSpoke the tanker Apollonia, from Persian Gulf for Brazil. First saw on AIS, see photo.

Have gone through several routing scenarios as the next 24 hours are important for getting us going in the south. We have to cross a high pressure system or ridge, and our routing (our simulation of our boat’s performance given the forecast wind directions and strengths) consistently shows that we should wrap around the western end of the high as it moves east and the ...

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Tacking an Open 60

27 Nov

Another long day and night. In the aftermath of crossing the front between the two high pressure systems, which didn’t have anywhere near as much wind as one might have expected, we then headed off to the east, oddly back toward the front, with the forecast anticipation that the wind would shift, allowing us to tack and head south on a more favorable direction.

About 10 hours before this was predicted, it appeared to be happening. Suddenly we had a big wind shift. I waited about a half hour to see if it would stay or not, and it did. ...

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Communication Systems

25 Nov

Yesterday was an important US holiday, Thanksgiving Day, for families and friends. We seem a long way from home, now 19 days at sea, yet almost at the start of this around-the-world adventure and race. So many more miles before we see family and friends in person. Yet we were all brought a little closer by the technology that we now have at sea, email and satellite phones. I remember my first transatlantic voyage, in 1978, from the Canaries to Barbados, and our only communications was by ham radio (I still am licensed as WA1BZE) by hoisting an inverted V ...

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Making Up Miles

24 Nov

In the last two days we’ve made up some ground on the group of boats that have been in front of us for the last week or so. Jean-Yves Bernot, guru of the great French weather routers, when I studied with him last summer, said ‘try to put yourself in a position to get lucky’. So we did, and we did get lucky, with more wind on our track than on the other boats track, and we’ve picked up both mileage and a few places.

The South Atlantic weather map looks distorted, with a vast swath having little or no ...

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The Finicky Genoa

23 Nov

Last night we came up against the precise finickiness of the genoa, our biggest upwind jib. It is masthead height, tacks to the bow, and trims through the ring along with the solent and staysail. Our polars say that upwind it is good to about 13 knots true wind speed. But actually, at that windspeed, the boat is completely overpowered with the sail. What works at 10 knots TWS, is actually then overpowered at 11kts TWS, and I spent the night (see the sleep data!) constantly easing the traveller, pulling it back in, filling ballast tanks 2 and 3, then ...

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