Wednesday, September 22, 2010

09:00 UTC
Lat: 046 degrees 30.491 North
Long: 004 degrees 54.009 West
Heading: 105 degrees
Average SOG: 4.61 Knots
In early fall a high pressure system centered on the Bay of Biscay is a very unlikely occurrence. It is actually currently centered on just about our exact location. Le Pingouin and my anxious crew are slowly motoring the last 200 miles of our voyage to La Rochelle.  An open 60 is not a very pleasant motoring environment, with barely a cover over the engine to keep things from getting fouled in the moving parts.  While our 27 horsepower Italian friend (the engine is a Nanny built in Italy) bangs away in the living compartment, talking is more like yelling at each other and ear plugs are a good way to keep from going hard of hearing while sleeping. We endure this to watch the speedo register 4.5 – 5 knots.  After averaging better than 10 knots over the last 4,000 miles we have sailed, and being so close yet so far away, it seems an unjust reward.

This transat has proven to be exactly what the boat and I needed.  I have learned a great deal about the boat and have become comfortable with the new Harken deck layout and handling characteristics of the latest version of Le Pingouin.   In the meantime, we have had every weather condition and sailing angle. Over 4,000 miles we have shaken the boat out pretty hard.  We have a long list of minor repairs and tweaks to do that is headed up by battery charging and water maker issues.  The improvements and changes to the boat have already proven their value.  The new set of sails by Quantum are awesome and the nicest I have owned. The B & G autopilot and instrument package has proven capable of taking over the helmsman position whatever the conditions, which in 50 knots of North Atlantic slop is saying something.   The speed record for the yet to be named pilots is so far 22.4 knots but I am sure that will be a mere memory as the new Le Pingouin crew of "B & G and me" get more miles under our belt.  The Samson rope package is now pretty well fine tuned with the ongoing tweaking that we were doing as we plodded across the pond.  All this and the lifestyle package of Gill foul weather gear, Dubarry sea boots, the familiar Alpine Aire food that has accompanied me on my 2 previous journeys around the world, and some Grawnola for breakfast have proven to provide for a comprehensive yet minimalist approach to long distance voyaging in the name of safely getting to the next stopover as quickly as possible.  If this all sounds like a sponsor plug it sort of is, but the reality is that not only are these suppliers one of the reasons we have gotten this far, but they are also hand chosen to create a comprehensive on the water package for successfully pursuing a 3rd circumnavigation. 

The whole team is anxious to re-assemble in France.  The shore support crew has a daunting list and with a super limited budget they need as much time with the boat as possible.  Meaghan and I are anxious to be together with the kids for a couple of weeks before the race starts, while we are also distracted by the very serious business of keeping the campaign alive through an ongoing and exhaustive sponsorship search.  It is a bit shocking that we have come so far and have yet to find the sponsorship necessary to ensure we can make the race happen. Through the help of companies like Ondeck and many others (some of whom would rather not be named) we will be qualified with a race ready boat on October 17th when the fleet departs on Leg 1 from La Rochelle to Cape Town.  Now it is time to pull a rabbit out of the hat and get some big bills paid before the start so the show may go on.   I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it!

As a way to thank everyone who has put their back into this project I am going to randomly and periodically give a shout out in my updates throughout the race.  It may not mean something to all who follow these reports, but to those who do know it is a small tribute of appreciation.  So, Kurt Oberle and his crew from High and Dry Boatworks… you are the inaugural super stars.  The Awlgrip job is hangin' tough.

It is great to be back on the line with my feet in the chocks and I look forward to sharing another great adventure with all who may be interested.

Until next time,