Title: The wrong kind of waves!
Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JPK1010 Jangada
Position 11.27N, 47.45W
Boat speed 7-10 knots
Wind ENE 18-22 knots
Air temperature 29.7C
Sea temperature 32.1C
Weather 9/10 clear skies with bright sun
Instead of the 3,000 miles of glorious downwind surfing we were
promised, we started with calms, then days of headwinds, squalls and
more light airs. As a result, we've had to go well south compared to
traditional routes to get into solid tradewind conditions.
Even then, we're not getting the sustained easy surfing you might expect
thanks to a confused sea and wind-driven waves that have such a long
wavelength that most refuse to crest. A couple of days ago we gave up on
running with the S2 and S4 spinnakers, as the sea state meant we had to
sail more than 35 degrees off the flat water downwind polars just to
keep wind in the sail.
Instead we have a poled out jib and mainsail - an easy old-school
arrangement that allows us to point dead downwind at Grenada. An initial
screening of progress after dropping the kite showed a 4 per cent
decrease in boat speed, accompanied by a 5 per cent drop in distance
sailed - in otherwords a small net gain. Importantly, for a race of such
marathon proportions it has also significantly reduced wear and tear on
the boat, fittings and sails.
The other frustration is huge amounts of weed that wraps around both
rudders and the keel. In day light it's possible to steer around the
biggest clumps, but at night impossible. An advantage of running without
a spinnaker is that the frequent luffs head to wind to allow the boat to
back up and clear the foils are much easier if you don't have to drop
the kite first, especially as we are double-handed.
A wind shift this evening will see us gybing onto starboard for the
final run into the finish. Hopefully the new wind will break up the
patches of weed... and the forecast wind angles look promising for a
fast blast with the A5 spinnaker.
Routine on board continues as before, although less time is needed to
analyse weather and routing options as we close on the finish. There are
also minor changes to diet as the last of the fresh vegetables are
The routing software suggests we will finish sometime between Saturday
evening and theh following morning local time. We're pushing for the
former on the premise that Grenadan rum will taste better on a Saturday
night than a Sunday morning.