Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Restless Sleep, Fresh Food,Family & Fellow Racers

Since arriving in Cape Town I have been enjoying relatively long nights of restless sleep. After 28 days of severe sleep deprivation offshore, my dreams have been pretty wacky since offered a more “normal” overnight rest. The transition is a bit tricky. I am always restless overnight, partly out of habit and partly because I really don’t want to get out of the groove of the offshore environment. It may seem like we have a lot of time on land, but December 12 is right around the corner. I attempt a nap each day to try and stay in the groove, but it does not always work out.

I have also been enjoying red meat, fresh food, and spending time with my family. We went up Table Mountain over the weekend, which was the first time I have ever done it despite being here twice before. We are going to try and get away together as a family and explore South Africa for a few days, which will be a total escape from my work on the boat.

Jeffrey, JC, and Nitro are busy going through the boat work list that I prepared before my arrival. I am spending most of my time on the electrical side and heading up the charging system modifications. We are changing how the hydro generators and the rest of the charging system keep the batteries charged on the boat, to provide the electricity for the autopilots and other important electronics. I’ve been working closely with B&G to make sure the autopilot and instrument package is fine tuned for optimum performance in the Southern Ocean.

I have learned a lot about the B&G system and I must say it is absolutely amazing. There are so many variables; it is like you can keep making the system better and better as you go. They auto-learn, so they adjust their own parameters as I encounter different conditions. My time on this is critical as I need the autopilots to drive through anything and everything. Over the first leg of the race I’ve been learning the system, and it has been learning itself – both great assets for the upcoming Southern Ocean legs.

I’ve also really enjoyed being onsite to greet the other competitors as they have arrived Cape Town. It is a race tradition to greet your fellow competitors, and inherently the time in port creates great bonds and friendships. I cooked a steak on the dock for Derek, which he promptly enjoyed with South African wine at a small table beside his boat with his wife. CSM arrived yesterday and we all went to the local pub for a beer.

My focus right now is trying to get the boat work sorted enough for me to take off on a short walk about with my family. Thanks for checking in,


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finish in Cape Town

I felt like I had the boat totally prepared for the finish. Not so. I was hit by 40 knots of breeze last night. It was upwind conditions in 40 knots of breeze with a following Southern Ocean swell. Not what I was looking for in the final hours of my 27+ day voyage.

Welcome to Cape Town! The weather systems are notably unpredictable and challenging. Following the chaos offshore was a painfully slow approach. All the noise stopped. It took one hour to go from 40 knots to nothing. And I do mean nothing… I think I could swam faster than the boat edged along off the coast of Greenpoint headed to the finish.

The joy of seeing Meg, Tate and Wyatt was awesome. Velux delivered a cold beer and burger, which was much appreciated. Thanks to all that have followed the journey this far. I need a shower and a bit of sleep! More tomorrow…



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Le Pingouin seems to be less of a bird and more of a raging bull!

Le Pingouin seems to be less of a bird and more of a raging bull! It has been full noise out here trying to keep up with this front and shaking Gutek. Cracking along at 20-25 knots on this thing is something else. The other night the forecast was 28 knots, but it piped up to 40+ knots. I wish I could have captured footage of those few hours on video, but it was pitch black. From the air this boat must have looked like a mast and sails sticking out of a surfacing submarine! It was nuts and a whole lot of work with no sleep, food or water. All I could do was hang on to whatever I was working on at the moment.

All is well and it feels good to be within 1000 miles of Cape Town, even if I will have to sail more miles than that to actually get there. Thanks for keeping up with the action offshore and stay tuned for the finish in South Africa, which I am hoping for on Sunday/Monday.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gutek the Hunter on my Tail

It has been constant sail changes and working non-stop to keep my slim lead on Gutek. He has been hunting me down, and doing it at Mach 2 speed with precision. Thankfully I am hauling right now on a tight reach. A satellite pull on the boat earlier today had me trucking along at 22+ knots. I’m averaging 14-15 knots and it looks like the weather pattern is pretty good for the foreseeable future. I was really frustrated that I had to work my way around the high pressure system and Gutek was able to cut the corner, devouring my hard fought lead. It will now be a full-on drag race with an unknown outcome.  

The data you see online shows a margin of about 100 miles between Gutek and I, yet remember that is based on distance to finish in Cape Town. The reality is we have both chosen a lane. Gutek has been forced to try and come down closer to my latitude. I have a slight advantage on him… let’s say VERY SLIGHT. My advantage is of course being in front. I have a strategy and I’m sticking to my plan. My disadvantage is that I am being hunted. Gutek can come up with tactics to crush my plan.

The St. Helena high is a series of high pressure systems that form and come off the Brazilian coast. They tend to march toward Cape Town and I am hanging on to one the best I can. When it gets out in front of us, we’ll have to start gybing. This will offer up tactical opportunities and passing lanes right to the finish. The situation will keep me very busy, but should also make for exciting racing!

Thanks for checking in. Don’t forget to view some of the videos at www.velux5oceans.com.