Saturday, February 27, 2010

Progress on Land and Race Boat Arrival Pending

This week was a winner as we had some nice sponsorship meetings and great prospects that seem engaged and enthusiastic about the race. It is amazing how many declines you have to endure, before finding those that can think outside the box and really take a good hard look at the benefits of sponsoring an entry in this type of event. Thankfully, I am no rooky so we have loads of media results and positive testimonial from previous sponsors. Hopefully, there will soon be some good news on sponsorship but in the meantime we need to ramp up the grassroots fundraising effort to keep things moving as we refit and prepare the boat to the level needed to represent a competitive American effort. As for the on to the water side…

I spoke with the boys yesterday and all is well. They are out of the trade winds and getting ready to deal with the low pressure systems coming off the US. Their position is 21 degrees North and 60 degrees West, and they are sailing at about 11 knots straight toward Charleston. They are feeling a bit closer to home now that they are only 1 time zone away! They do expect to have heavy winds off N. Florida in a couple days, and the lows will throw winds at them from the northwest. Getting into phase with these lows as you try to keep the bow pointed toward home is a real trick. They will have to contend with 2 significant lows that will first feel like a sleigh ride with strong southerlies and then the breeze will clock into the northwest and stick for a while to make it feel like you’ll never get there. Net result is that they’ll be “stair stepping” the way home. We’re likely to get another update on Sunday morning but my guess is a Thursday or so arrival in Charleston. All the best and happy weekend to all!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy to be Home While the Crew is Headed in the Right Direction with Hopes of Sushi

15:00 GMT
13° 09’ North 29° 06’ West
Heading 275°

I must say, it is good to be home, and a good decision to get back here for tending to business. The amount of logistics involved in preparing for the refit is staggering – as we plan to haul the boat out upon arrival and tackle major jobs such as reconfiguring the deck layout, replacing all the sails, lines and rigging, building a nav station, and loads more. We are also working hard to acquire sponsors at every level, with some promising leads.

Jeffrey, JC and Adam are all well aboard the race boat and working their way West. It actually looks like a favorable weather pattern between 13-15° North. They currently have about 10-12 knots of wind from the East/Northeast. Jeffrey reports that the last 2 days they’ve been making good progress on a starboard gybe, but expect the winds to shift more Easterly and force them to gybe their way across the Atlantic. He says it still feels like they are a long way from home!

Adam is getting the fishing lines ready for the rest of their 2,000 mile haul toward North America, with hopes of sushi. The guys seem highly motivated (and a bit jealous) after my description of Valentine’s dinner out with Meg at Bamboo! I won’t taunt them anymore, as we don’t want them to end up fishing in the Caribbean instead of here in Charleston for the refit. I’ll keep posting to the blog as I hear news from the boat.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Skirting the Sahara and Pickin’ on a Pig Leg

16:00 GMT
25° North 16° 30’ West
Heading 195°

Well the boys left Tenerife at about 1100 GMT yesterday with a good start, but it was short lived. The lack of wind that is expected for most of this trip across the Atlantic arrived like a dead weight and they spent most of the night drifting, until it picked up again this afternoon. They are about 60 miles off the coast of the Western Sahara accompanied by lots of oil tankers and commercial traffic. The plan is to continue south, skirting the coast of Africa heading toward the Cape Verde Islands. It may not be until 14° North that they find the tradewinds they are seeking and can head in our direction.

Thankfully they are accompanied by a 30 pound pig leg. JC had begged me to bring along this mainstay sailors’ fare before departing France, but I was pleased to dine on my favorite AlpineAire dehydrated food. Once I made the decision to fly back home for sponsorship meetings, I could not in good conscience deprive them of their requested treat. So the salt cured piggy was delivered to the boat, hoof and all. Now being a southerner for the last 9 years I’ve adopted the love of pork, but at least we disguise it as barbeque or something not so obvious. Needless to say, they are enjoying it immensely as they make their slow drive south. I’ll keep up with the crew as they bring our Eco 60 home, and post the latest news here on the blog.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bad News… Good News: Surprise Port Visit

18:00 GMT
Docked in Tenerife, Canary Islands

Okay, we really did not plan to stop in Tenerife, I swear. We most certainly did not plan on stopping here during their Carnival season, although we all enjoy a party now and then. Tenerife is a small island city bustling with life in the Canary Islands. It is a wild place, with booming sounds of music and a much unanticipated city-vibe, although that may be heightened right now due to the annual celebration. On to the news of why we are here…

Bad News:
The bad news includes a dismal forecast for weather across the Atlantic. The light weather hit us like a brick wall after the wild surfing we did two days ago. It was so intense that we decided to check in with Ken Campbell, and review how long this trip really could take given the worst of weather circumstances. It became clear that there was potential we could be sailing for the larger part of a month instead of 14-20 days. This presents a problem, as I have a couple important sponsorship meeting coming up. To be honest, I can’t jeopardize these potential partnerships that we have worked hard to nurture, thereby jeopardizing my main goal of competing in the Velux 5 Oceans. I will depart Tenerife via plane instead of boat with the intent of balancing the competition and training side of this venture, with the business side. Dr. Kevin Hogan will also head back via plane, as he has equally important commitments with patients.

Good News:
The good news is that we have put the boat through her paces, covering about 2,000 miles and every imaginable condition, from 50 knots upwind to no air downwind. We have achieved a lot since leaving France, including a detailed plan for the refit and a timeline for all to happen with room for considerable training offshore. The other good news is that we have sponsorship meetings, and an energetic team on land lining up more as we speak. I feel good about the decision to take off and let the boys deliver the boat to Charleston, while I do what I can to support the sponsorship quest and reach our ultimate goal.

The blog will continue once Jeffrey and JC (plus Adam Currier coming aboard in Tenerife) are underway again. They are adding provisions and water to the boat for the additional time expected offshore. I’m sure they will not mind the Carnival atmosphere here in Tenerife while awaiting their weather window! All the best to those following our adventure and more news as we move on…


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blasting A Giant Horseshoe in the Atlantic

17:50 GMT
Lat 29°47’ North Long 15°17’ West
Heading 195°

Yesterday was full of big breeze and we made the best of it, blasting off in the high teens and reaching 20 knots on occasion.  The boat handled it well and I am very impressed with her - it was a good day.  And if our destination was Morocco, it would have been a great one!

We call this route 'the Atlantic horseshoe," and the first leg is basically straight South as we leave France and head past Madeira and the Canaries.  We will likely not be able to start our Westward turn another 1000 NM past there before this silly route ponies up with the trade winds. To put it in layman’s terms, our Transatlantic has really not begun yet.

The crew is all doing well, and with all the free time that this kind of delivery allows, we're exploring every nook and cranny on the new boat.  We have a daily meeting (quite a formal step considering the personalities aboard) with Kevin Hogan as the acting secretary.  We haven't yet pulled out Robert's Rules of Order, but we incorporate them during our meetings in a slapstick way - the laughs never end here aboard Team Lazarus.  Today's debate was about deck layout, while yesterday was all keel all the time.  It may sound silly, but all the brainstorming means we will be exceptionally prepared for the refit when we hit the ground in Charleston, and every second of thinking we can save now is a second we get back later.

At the moment we are headed towards Santa Cruz de Tenerife and we expect to get by it tonight, it's slow sailing now, and looks like it will stay slow for some time.  Quite a downer after our wild ride yesterday, but hopefully there are some more white knuckle moments to come soon.

Here is me snug as a bug during one of my few periods off deck!

Thanks for checking in with us,


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's Gonna Be A Long One

February 1, 2010
20:05 GMT
Lat 39°44’ North Long 11°26’ West
Heading 260°

We continue our trek south to Madeira and possibly even further than that before we get the tradewinds that will make our trip across the Atlantic manageable.  How strange that we are pointed right at my home in Charleston right now - so tempting - but we are soon to gybe to port and head on down the rocky and forbidding coast of Portugal.

The good news is that I think we are through the roughest of the North Atlantic winter weather. Thankfully, today was a bit dryer and we took the opportunity to dry out a bit (both our gear and bodies). One thing to never forget in this part of the world: The Bay of Biscay SUCKS this time of year!

We are currently sailing at 10.5-11 knots with the Code 5 and mainsail up with the wind at about 15 knots from the North-Northeast.  The crew is all well and we checked in with Ken Campbell from Commander's Weather today on weather expectations. He is a great guy and always an excellent resource in addition to the data we have onboard.

This is no doubt going to be a long trip. I talked with my 7 year-old daughter Tate today just as she was getting out of school. She is already anxious for my return, and my heartstrings get tense when I hear her ask “how many more days?” It is tough to think about the moments I will miss in her young life and that of her brother Wyatt (5), while I am at sea. They will be on my mind often and in my heart always.

Thanks for reading these reports and for sending them on to your friends - we've got a long road ahead of us and hopefully you will enjoy the ride.

Back on deck now for the gybe!