Day 1 – Leg 1 – Old Pultney CV29
The start was probably the biggest anti-climax from yesterdays celebratory parade of sail in London.
We slipped the moorings at 07:00 and motored with the rest of the 12 boat strong fleet to Southend Pier.
There was no sign of life, no sign of the enthusiastic crowds that lined the river Thames from the day earlier. No spectator boats even. We had three race control boats and a couple of onlookers from the shore.
CV29 didn’t get off to a great start, with 12 minutes to the start the knot attached to the mainsail slipped and we have the bigger issue of the halyard falling back down through the inside of the mast. Either way it was all to late to proffer solutions, get the topper of the boom and lets just get this show on the road. It was a late start but we were in similar company. Maybe one boat crossed on time.
It wasn’t long before we tried the brand new asymmetric spinnaker. Pop. Out she came. For a code 2 it certainly was big. Wind was only in the region of 8-10knots but it powered us along at a good 9 knot average. The crew have been in pretty good spirits. The skipper Patrick had a grin that could only be translated to “thank god we are on our way”. I believe most teams were done with the formalities on shore and ready to get some sailing.
We dropped the kites after a while as we negotiated the fickle winds around Ramsgate. The in-shore boats ahead of us were suffering and we opted for a more easterly route. While we did get sucked into the hole that becalmed the fleet we were on its outer edge and pushed through with GBR and another unknown Clipper.
The race separated and compressed a couple of times in the first six hours but as the wind shifted from the pleasant 10-12knts it veered onto the nose. We faced a short chop now as tide fought the wind. The pressure increased to 24knts. Through the following hours there was several headsail changes and main reefs put in and shaked out.
The conditions we not easily below decks as Ross and Charles battled on with the Chicken Curry.
Charles braved the galley for as long as he could but the dreaded sickness finally made itself know.
While the determination to wipe free and anit-bact his hands, he simply wasn’t of much use. His only contribution as he went from patchy red to ghostly white in complexion was the consistent direction to Ross, “You don’t need to stir the Rice”. I finally made the decision and directed him to get on deck or into your bunk, lulling around the food in a galley while sick is not a place for the poorly.
I took position of mother up, dished the dinner Ross cooked and washed up. 21 bowls came from the deck and below, many still half full. Clearly the sea state was beginning to effect more than Charles.
The evening closed in and it continued to come from in front. Sail and watch changes were the running order of the night. At around 0430 the wind began to shift and become light and variable.
While still in contact with the majority of the fleet it was decision time. DO you hug the English south coast in a battle to hunt more breeze or Do you dive south, cross the channel in the ebbing tide and try get to the French side? Patrick decided lets dive south. The grib files seem to indicate a slightly more favorable angle and an increase in wind with its change. A decision that will make or break us. Let us see how much of a gambler our Dutchman is????
Here’s the video diary from today.
Day 2 – Leg 1 – Old Pultney CV29
The Dive south is proving to be extremely slow. We had Garmin hunt us down on a Code 0 for an hour or two, finally rolling us to windward about 20 boats lengths out. The crew peeled to our biggest kite onboard which was the Code 1. We hooked into a little pressure below them and pulled a lead back. The gap opened up between us by almost 2 miles and Garmin decided to gybe back toward the English coast. Why they decided on the edge of the shipping lane NOT to commit to the French side is baffling us. They are now in the middle of the extremes of the fleet. One could suggest they will take a 50/50 best of the boats to the port and starboard approach. But not committing to a side on the turn of a foul tide is not advisable. We will wait to see how it goes for them.
We are of course committed rightly or wrongly. We don’t have any French onboard but we like the idea of crossants and beating the fleet to Brest. Conditions were calm enough to send a person up the mast to re-mouse the main halyard. I took this voluntary roll to take some photos while fixing the problem. I managed to spend some 40mins up there but it seems that the halyard is stuck half way down the mast. Patrick seems to think it will fall the remainder when we take Code 1 down and the halyards become freer.
The crew are now baking bread, unblocking sinks and doing the never ending list of tasks which come hand and hand with these boats. Mean while I’m sitting on a Peli case forward charging batteries as the wind and activity onboard is quite.
Not much of an improvement as the day came to a close. I suspect the will to live in these conditions are starting to penetrate the most dedicated of those onboard. Skipper suggested i get some sleep and i agree not much point in wasting energy if nothings happen.
I tucked into my sauna bunk, stripped to boxer shorts but the sweat kept running from me. I had an amazing discover while there. The side pockets of the boat used for storage seemed to emanate some source of heat. I blinding fumbled with my hands and could certainly feel an increase in temperature where the deck and hull join. It literally radiated. I closed the cloth covers to the areas which seems to relive its unwanted presence but I suspect the latency will keep me very warm though-out the night.
I continued with my book; “Finding Alaska”. It’s held my attention, which is another discovery. I have never finished a book. I hope I read the last page of this one for the first time in my life.
The day of discover continued. Patricia was found. Patricia is the mascot for the Ellen MacCarter Cancer Trust of which the crew of CV29 are supporting the Southampton Childrens’ Oncology department. John the now named “rig monkey” joined me for another excursion up the windless rig for a chat and a talk about Patricia. Not the most usual place to do an interview but this crew is certainly not usual. An eclectic mix which right now is working in harmony but i think it has the potential to deliver some interesting exchanges when the pressure limit hits Max.
Not much else to say that the water maker has been fixed, we had our dinner of corned beef and mash. The wind seems to elude us and we expect a sea fog to work its way in. More tomorrow.
Day 3 – Leg 1 – Old Pultney CV29
Not much to report. The sea fog consumed use in its wooly embrace at 0500.
I woke with serious back pain, i’m not sure how it all developed but from 0600 until i got my first hit of Coedine at 11.30 I made movements from my bunk about twice. I wasn’t to concerned about the filming or photos. It was grey and nothing worth getting upset about.
Some time just after 1300 UCT the race director Justin called us on Iridium to inform us of a shortened course. I thought it wise as average speeds were poor and the fog didnt seem like it was going to lift. We had a 3 hour race to get as far west to a lighthouse of the north of France. The closest boat to this point wins. We pushed hard in the fog and we think we got 2nd place. We will need the result ratified but it’s looking good. I can’t say we have had any edge of your seat sailing yet. Its all been rather dull. Motoring to Brest now. 120Nm’s estimated ETA 09.00 on the 5th of September.
Oh P.S. I finished the book in 3 days. A first for me.