Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

This from a couple of days ago...

Weed!

Weed to left of us. Weed to the right of us.  Streaks of weed.  Lilly pad plates of weed 10 feet in diameter.  Weed around the rudders - both of them, which need clearing every 20 minutes!  Weed around the keel - spinnaker down and reverse the boat to clear.  Weed at night that you can't see.  I'm fed up with weed!

Even the weed stick is feeling the pressure.  Fine in UK waters, but not a match for this tropical weed. Now clearly under-engineered, the weed stick has had several modifications.  A corner bracket cut out from a chopping board to support the bend. The main shaft lashed to a broom handle.  And rope to cover the hook so we don't scratch the rudders too much.  Fortunately, now that we are into more choppy seas with winds building to 20kts, the weed seems to be more disperse and we are not having to clear rudders so often. Just as well, as we don't carry a spare weed stick.

Looking forward to a downwind run for the final 1,200nm to Grenada.....

Richard & Rupert

JPK1010 Jangada

Crew member on GER7475 Lunatix

on . Posted in Blogs

Regards from Lunatix!

The days are passing by and we actually dont really know when we last posted anything to this blog so we will have a quick summary of our past days: They have been a variation of all sorts of weather, from as little as 4kn of TWS up to 30Kn everything hit us in a well served mixture. For the remaining days on the water we would like to point out that we prefer 20 to 25kn of TWS and would be delighted if we get this weather very soon, to surf towards the finish line. More than 25kn is not necessary and we we figured out that even on a brand new boat you get pieces to break apart if you push to hard. In our case the Tylaska at the end of the guy went out of service when a big gust hit us. As usual something like this happens during the dead of night and set us back quiet a bit until we where ready to set the kite again and continue under full speed.

We are in the beginning of the third week and according to our plan we should already enjoy Rum and the beautiful island of Grenada but as the fleet can tell, the weather conditions showed to be so beautiful, we just wanted to enjoy some extra days on the Atlantic!

We liked to admit we also accepted outside assistant last night by an eighth crew member: "Larry" as we named him, is a 40 cm big seabird (don´t ask us about the types of seabirds) which circumsailed Lunatix a dozen times yesterday evening before finding the courage to land on our deck (to windward- good job Larry). He proofed to be a fast-learner and even kept a cool head during two night-time gybes including all hands on deck and the neccesary moves and commands during the pitch black night, Larry just wouldn´t leave the scene. Unfortunately he doesn´t seem to be a great team player, leaving the scenery at early morning before breakfast and leaving a huge portion of sh*** on the starboard deck- not cool Larry!

Now we are back on track with our original 7 headed crew and enjoy the last hours of that race. Though the experiences being remarkebly, we still sail under the mindset of race sailors, which means that the last days and hours of the race- as beautiful as they might be- need to be minimized! Need another argument to get to Grenada as fast as possible? Well think about steak and rum !

All safe and sound but thirsty!

--

Crew member on ITA15111 Hatha Maris

on . Posted in Blogs

December 8th, 2017

The Garden

If Matt Damon can grow potatoes on Mars then growing green vegetables in

the middle of the Atlantic Ocean would be easy, right?

The answer is actually yes, with very little effort a small amount of

preparation, the right seeds, and a small amount of space in indirect light

a surprising number of nutritious micro greens can be ready for eating in

3-4 days.

Having already experimented with sprouting seeds on a previous race with

mixed results plan B was formed.

Small packets of organic micro greens which include rocket, alfalfa, mung

beans, fenugreek and basil have been placed in shallow trays on top of damp

kitchen paper (needs to be unbleached) and then placed on a sill in

indirect sunlight. Each morning they are given a little water, turned

every other day and then cut ready for eating in wraps or salads and that

is really as hard as it gets.

The most important thing is to eat them as they are cut, they don’t last

unless you have the luxury of a fridge on board.

Sprouting organic chickpeas and lentils after a day of soaking in water

make really good snack finger foods.

I have done a few races now on a few different boats, without reservation I

can confirm without a shadow of a doubt that meals on Hatha Maris in

comparison would have been awarded a Michelin Star.

If you didn’t know by now, Italians love and honour the food they eat, from

breakfast right through to pre-dinner aperitivo, yes you heard me right,

for example thinly sliced carpaccio and zucchini soaked in lemon juice with

a side of anchovies and pomegranate, If you don’t believe me, then go to

the Second Star Facebook site in a few weeks time and see some of our

amazing meals.

In Lanzarote, I met up with a fellow provisioner, their trolley 300

oranges, 100 5 lt bottles of water and 2 trollies of noodles to rehydrate….

by comparison our provisioning was so yummy that another boat took the

delivery and we had to fight to get our food back!!!!

Sammi

----

This e-mail was delivered via satellite phone using Global Marine Networks,

LLC's XGate software.

Please be kind and keep your replies short.

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

RORC Transatlantic Race - Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JKP1010

Jangada

Tradewinds - normal service to be resumed

Position 14.33N 36.47W

Wind 040-060 degrees true, 10-16 knots

Air temperature 29.7 Celcius

Water temperature 22.6 Celcius

Weather 70 per cent thin cloud

Our spell in stereotypical tradewind conditions a few days ago didn't

last long - barely a couple of days before the skies clouded over and a

succession of squalls brought gusts into the upper 20s.

After some spirited surfing that saw Jangada hitting 14 knots, the sea

state became such that it was no longer feasible two-handed to continue

with a spinnaker set - when well offshore it's usually sea state, not

simply wind speed, that dictates when to drop.

We then spent 24 hours running with a poled out No4 jib, or reaching

with the jib and one reef in the mainsail, still hitting boatspeeds well

above 10 knots and making good progress towards Grenada. However, the

next obstacle was an area of high pressure, right where you'd normally

expect the north-easterly tradewinds to be well established.

We negotiated the worst of it last night, when the wind speed dropped to

less than four knots. Unfortunately, the larger boats in Classes 0 and 1

got past that point well before the high became established, so we've

lost out compared to them. Nevertheless, we have a few in our sights

that we can realistically overhaul on corrected time between now and the

finish, and we're still leading both our own class and the two-handed

division by a comfortable margin.

In terms of distance we're only half-way through this 3,000 mile race

after 13 days at sea. That's certainly frustrating, but the second half

should be much faster - we're now below 15 degrees north Latitude and

the winds are forecast to build between here and the finish, which gives

a prospect of consecutive 200 plus mile days and finishing within 9 more

days. The 100ft supermaxi CQS took line honours on Wednesday, but given

her IRC rating is almost 1.9 times greater than that of Jangada, we have

until the early hours of December 16 to beat her on corrected time.

However, there's one more potential obstacle to negotiate before we can

think of the finish - today the CAPE index (a measure of the energy in

the atmosphere that can create thunderstorms and squalls) is quite high.

Apart from that the routine on board continues. We still have some fresh

fruit and vegetables left, but stocks of both are rapidly dwindling,

although there are plenty of treats to eat, including excellent Iberian

ham and chorizo, tasty Spanish olives and more.

Although the winter nights are long here, hiding from the relentless

tropical sun is still important during the day. Depending on which gybe

we're on the afternoons are not so bad if the sun is behind the black

3Di mainsail, although the white spinnakers and the Code 0 doubtless

have a much lower Sun Protection Factor.

Crew member on ITA15111 Hatha Maris

on . Posted in Blogs

Dec 6th (again!) 2017

News from Deck -2 yes, you read right, Deck Negative2

You know those days when you take a great bucket shower, you put a clean

bikini on, and think to yourself: now I am going to go back outside, and -

yes! read my book, just a chapter, then we can fly the big genny if the

angle is right.. Maybe I should put some sunscreen back on, since I

washed it all off. Oh ok, since I am still down here I should first check

in with Brian, the bilge, and then put the sunscreen on, so I don’t get it

all over the interior of the boat. And while I am at it, introduce Thalita

to him, she hasn’t met Brian yet.

So I call Thalita and open up to say hello to Brian, and find that we have

A LOT of water in there. A LOT, sloshing around. I had just checked it

less than two hours ago, and there was nothing. Immediately I do the most

important test and stick my finger in and taste it, to see if it is salty

or sweet water:

a) yuck.

b) it is salty.

c) shit.

First thoughts running though my mind: Where is it coming from? What part

of the hull is damaged? Is a seacock is leaking? Did we hit anything and I

did not hear it? Does anything sound different? WHERE is it coming from?

Dang, what if it is the keel bolts?

We tear up all the floorboards and we have water in all the bilges on the

starboard side. I check around the keel bolts and they seem ok, but won’t

be really able to tell until we get the water down some. And it keeps

coming in, slowly seeping in from the communication holes between the hull

and the bilges. It is a light grey/cream color, cloudy.

Paranoid skipper brain already goes though the sinking/evacuation scenario

and I immediately send a satellite message to the office, alerting them

that we might have a problem and our position.

Then start checking each and every seacock. Thalita checks the port side

ones, I go for the starboard side. Nothing seems amiss. Engine seacock is

dry. But the engine bilge is wet? What?? We mop up 10 litres of water,

and I am able to check the keel bolts. They are OK. Then we each crawl

into the back of the boat, all the way to the stern near the steering shaft

(there is water mostly towards the rear of the boat not forward..) so that

we can methodically check as much of the hull as possible. Port side,

nothing.

When I crawl into the stern on the starboard side I see water both on the

bottom and splashed on the walls of the space. This is where where our

engine exhaust is located, as well as the cockpit seacock drain. New

evacuation scenarios run through my mind and I wonder if I should mention

something to the rest of the crew, who are up on deck helming, reading and

hanging out… ok just a few more minutes and I’ll do that. I dry around the

engine exhaust and its seacock and have Thalita run the engine, to see if

that is the cause. No. Phew, I don’t have a replacement piece for the

exhaust line anyway, and we might need the engine to keep water out or get

us somewhere.. What am I thinking? Where would we go? We are so far from

anything right now and have not seen a single boat in two days. Not even

on AIS.

I test the drain. No, it looks gross but its not leaking. Then I look up,

instead of below or around the waterline of the boat. That’s when I notice

that the outside shower handle is hanging, somewhat caught up in one of the

hoses that crisscross the space. Huh? I realise that the cup that holds

it outside has been cracked and pushed into the space. I test the water on

the walls - just icky this time, it is clear - and it is salty, but not as

salty as it is in the bilges. It dawns upon us that it might be the

culprit. I ask Thalita to shut down the water pump, although I don’t see

much evidence of active leaking, and to check our water tank level. The

tank is now empty. Great. So maybe we have a source of the problem.

Great. Well, that was intended to be sarcastic, but at the same time, we

might now also have a different type of problem. I then grab the plumbing

diagram and see if I can shut down only the outside faucet somewhere, but

it is not an option.

Thalita and I start really emptying out the bilges of water to see if it

keeps rising, and slowly we make progress. The electric bilge pump is

making a funny noise.. and I become uneasy using it as the cloudy stuff in

the water turns out to be fibreglass dust, and it becomes cakey mud, at the

bottom of the pit, potentially clogging up the impeller if it gets sucked

in. I just changed it in Gibraltar, and now I do not have a spare of that

one on board -either.

I finally feel comfortable enough to send a message to the office that I

think I found the problem.

Music is turned on, nice and loud. Thalita and I smile at each other,

making faces as our hands start stinging more and more from the fibreglass

dust in the water. So we manually remove the water, container by

container, with sponges and - since the backup manual hand pump won’t fit

in the small crevices, and we are creative, 10ml at a time with the used

syringes I gathered up after the Medical Care at Sea course we just took in

the UK and threw into the toolbox (Sue: thank you… probably the first time

your antibiotics injection practice leftovers are used in this way.)

Finally after two hours, the water has stopped rising and just comes into

the bilges from the interstitial spaces when we have a sudden movement, but

it is minor. Enough that we are now monitoring it, and simply trying to

get as much out as possible at every watch change.

We did lose at least 1/4 of our freshwater Tank1 to this. So forget

seawater bucket shower rinse-offs even for 10seconds. And I have to fix

the handle and the faucet outside. And maybe replace the junctureT valve

with one with a shutoff lever. I think I might have one of those of the

right size… so voila’ added it to my “oh look, I have a spare moment, what

should I do?” list.

The rest of the crew, you ask? Apparently had no clue. They thought it

was normal to spend close to 3 1/2 hours “playing” in the bilges. Thalita,

thank you for all your help, especially for laughing and keeping me sane

while it was happening. I promise I will not suggest you have a second

date with Brian. EVER.

On the positive side, we now have very very very clean bilges. All the

food that was stored in some of them has been removed, dried, reorganised.

We now know that we have a vast quantity of mais cans. Looks like our

menus will be focusing on this fabulous ingredient in the foreseeable

future.

That’s all from the Deck Neg2 problem resolution desk. It is time to put

some sunscreen on and to go outside and sail, so please come back with any

issues after 4pm.

Lyssandra

Crew member on ITA15111 Hatha Maris

on . Posted in Blogs

Dec 6th 2017

Santa Claus day, or how we call it in Switzerland - Samichlaus

Nicole and I had what I call the ‘sleep in’ watch (from 3 to 6am and

then off till 10am). Breakfast, helming, have a chat with the other crew

mates, clean up the cabin, getting excited to hoist the gennaker later

on.

Today is shower and laundry day - really necessary again. Back on the

stern on Deck 2, the Wellness Deck, a queue builds up for the shower.

Lyss is hanging outside the lifeline and throwing buckets of refreshing

25 degree sea water over herself, Nicole takes her time and enjoys a

Hammam in the very private shower area whilst singing, Sammi is happy to

be able to finally wash her hair again and rinse it with fresh water and

Francesca is getting a whole spa treatment with pedicure including nail

polish, body scrub and face mask (she was so happy) whilst I just have a

quick shower as always and wash my hair by putting my head into the

bucket. Today is a good day, everybody is happy and now also smells

good.

Lyss wanted to introduce me to Brian (the bilge). So we opened up the

bilge and o-ohhh - full of water! This was not much fun. Quickly we

opened up the whole boat and …. you will know tomorrow how it ends.. So

we decided no more introductions for the day and to leave the meeting as

a one day stand, :-).

Early in evening I could also hear Santa Claus. Yes, he came all the way

from the Swiss forest to bring us our little ‘Samichlaus Sackjini’. For

all the non-Swiss, Santa Claus in Switzerland does not show up on

Christmas. He has his own day on December 6th. Everybody got a little

Samichlaus bag full of treats and I was as happy as little kids are.

Never cook pasta for Italians I have been told! But I wanted to learn

how to cook it properly and decided - tonight is Carbonara night.

Francesca gave me all the right advice and, at the end, on the tricky

part, a hand. At this point I should mention that it is not easy to cook

even when the boat is not heeling very much. We lost about ten eggs this

night. First the bowl with the eggs and parmesan ready for the pasta

flew into the sink, so we got some more out of the cupboard, (shh...a

few broken ones in there too!). Second time, just before putting the

eggs into the pasta the boat heeled suddenly, — swear words in swiss

dialect wich I can not write down — and the whole bowl flew over my hand

and leg and onto the floor. Oh well, will do better next time!

And then it was already night again and we were back on the short

shifts!

good night

Thalita

Crew member on GER59 Red

on . Posted in Blogs

Good morning from the tropical zone of the Trades. Another wonderful night in the light of a beautiful moon (perhaps why I always get in a writing mood during the night shifts?). Many people celebrate today the Nikolaus-Fest. The kids find sweets and small gifts in their boots. We wouldn't put anything of value now in our seaboots. After 11 days on the ocean they have their own unpleasant microclimate. (although we mostly wear crocs these days).

After so many days on the boat, we are completely in the routine. But what does that mean for four guys on a spartanic Class 40 in the middle of the Atlantic ocean? First of all it makes us think that our almost empty hull is a kind of very trustworthy home, where you perform everything which is neccessary for the well-being of its crew. We eat our Müslis in the morning, nuts and small sweetbars during the day and then comes the afternoon feast: dried salami or cabanossi with small rounds of pumpernickel. Drinks: Real Coffee (we even have a Coffee press on board), some tea and the rest is bottled water only. In the evening we have our freeze-dried food, mostly from the polish producer Lyo, the rest is good old Turmat from Norway. Freeze-dried food has improved immensely during the last years, especially Lyo, who won awards and whose meat and potatoes taste almost wonderful. Try Beef Stroganoff or Pork in Dill Sauce...

Routine also means sailing, of course. Everyday we look out on the same ocean, from the same boat. But every day, every moment on the ocean, is also very different than what you have seen the hour before. As autopilots are not allowed in this race, one of us is always on the helm, steering RED as quickly as possible across the bumpy waves. The other is assisting with trimming the sheets, feeding the helmsmn, and throwing the awfully stinky flying fishes which land in the cockpit as quickly overboard as possible (this night I got hit by one in the chest and now I have the smell in my nose whenever I wear my wetgear jacket).

Routine also means getting along as a crew, as we all depend on each others abilities, in sunny times, but also in crises like the night before. We handle the boat with very few words, everybody knows what to do, where and when to pull or ease. This is the best crew ever! But if we don't need words for sailing, what do four guys talk about the whole day and during all those magical nights? Well, not what you might think: girls are in some ways off topic. Of course we talk about boat stuff - how we could have done something better or improve this and that. We talk about our feelings, life on the sea, but also issues at home. How the partner is doing, goals and dreams in life, parents, family, even politics. And sometimes we are simply quiet and just enjoy being on this ocean, in this world, in this life.. Sounds all too boring? Well, come along...

Follow "Red" here: Team Red on Facebook

Crew member on GER5500 Broader View Hamburg

on . Posted in Blogs

Finally the Genaker is up and the boat is running fast. Its been a great trip so far!!

Today we will cross the half way point and to celebrate that we all enjoy a cold beer and a nice meal. The crew is doing very well as we finally reached the Passat-trade-wind which all of us expected sooner. The first week was rough, tough good for us. With the wind coming from the front we were challenged with some more weather tactics, but due to our excellent navigator and skipper we were able to position our self in a good and motivating spot. It has been an amazing experience so far. We've had our ups and downs but all in all everybody is happy. A few days ago we saw some wales really close by (little scary to be honest) and every now and then some Dolphins give us company. Night sailing is really impressive as we are chased by a trail of glowing plankton which looks beautiful. During the night we have a light that shines into our sails for us to see, but it also attracts flying fish, so that we have to clear our boat regularly from dead fish on deck :D Ill have to say that although we have been sailing for such a long time its hard to understand how ginormous the Atlantic really is. The surrounding is pretty much the same now as it was on the second day.... water..... But never the less are we looking forward to sail well and maybe even lead the father-son challenge...looking good right now ;)

best regards from the middle of the Atlantic

Benedikt Woge + Broader View Crew

Crew member on ITA15111 Hatha Maris

on . Posted in Blogs

Dec 6th 2017

Crew member Thalita explains:

Why do I cross the Atlantic?

I have learned you always have two options. Either you stay in Europe through

the winter and freeze or you go to the Caribbean and enjoy "coco locos".

The decision is quite easy. Then there are two options again, you can

either fly to the Caribbean or sail. Why would you want to fly if you can

sail?!

I’ve sailed across the ocean for last two years and both times I just loved

it. It was not always Deck 4, 2, 5 or sleeping. Sometimes it can get really

tough, soaking wet at 3am, at the end of your watch and you have to change

the jib in rough sea, or cook a meal for your crew mates whilst everything

is just flying around ‘cause of the heeling' (don't even mention sea

sickness). Or you are going crazy just bobbing around in a wind hole for

days and not moving away from the islands.

And then there is another beauty of those crossings. Being in a small boat

with only few other people, using nature to move, staring at the incredible

starry nights or helming under full moon in an open sea... you know what I

am talking about. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful sceneries I’ve

ever seen (mmmh, maybe not as beautiful as my mountains though). The

endless horizon (even if you only see about 3nm) and cloud formations, the

short chats on the VHF radio with the cargo guys on collision course (yes,

it is a biiiig ocean, but it happens all the time). You get the feeling

there is nothing and nobody around and then suddenly 20 dolphins are

playing on the bow, sailing into the sunset with the full moon rising on

the other side. It’s not only the sailing, it’s a life experience every

time. Learning a lot about sailing, fixing and maintenance (if you sail

with Lyss it is a big part) boat management, cooking/ food (thank you

Sammi), peoples’ behaviour and myself. And if you forgot something or

missing a part, there is no Amazon to deliver the needed parts and

creativity is needed.

It is a challenge every time, you make friends forever and it fills you

with happiness.

Thalita

Crew member on GER6261 Emma

on . Posted in Blogs

Hello,

We are on the way to Grenada. Our headingline is 273 compass course.

We waited a quite long time to get the Passat wind, which we have now

since 4 1/2 days. The day before we werde able to get into the famous Wind

stream we had a day off in zero wind and the absolute high light was a

wale which joined us while we werde swimming for at leas half an Hour.

Everything on Board is working. One of our genackers was crashed in the

morning hours two days ago. As soon as we catch a fish Mathias prepares

shushi. We are happy to have a well working bread baking mashine on board

so the noon snack is always a joy. Our fresh fruits and vegetables are

gone But our freezer is full and our board cook Matthias prepares every

day one phantastic meal.

Please do not clear the wellcome zone, we will definety arrive in Grenda.

:-)

Best regards from Emma 6162

Crew

Alfred

Sven

Matthias

Ingo

Steffen

Ole

Gerald

Stefan

Peter

Crew member on GBR301 Challenger

on . Posted in Blogs

Hello from Spartan Challenger. Well we've done it- we’ve stopped going West and have fallen in step with the rest of the fleet in the long dive South to avoid the upcoming patch of light air and make our entry into the strong belt of Easterlies below 13N that will blow us into Grenada. For the navigators at home you may be interested to know there was a possible routing option for us up and over this windhole- taking us further North and West totally at odds with the overall consensus of the fleet. I thought about it-I really did-but one flyer per race is enough for me (these days) and now the team have settled into their sailing I think a drag race against the other competitors is more appealing to us now than a throw away attempt to circumvent everyone and claim glory. For all my years racing I can count the times that has worked for me on .. well.. one finger.

Meanwhile things have been going very well on board- the crew as I say has come together now as a functioning unit and are able to perform all the necessary sailing evolutions. They can helm as smoothly as I’ve seen and trim and work the sails and I am once again amazed that people coming from four different countries, with skill ranges ranging from absolute novice to circumnavigator and ages ranging from 19 to 73 can work together as a cohesive focused group with only a week's exposure. I guess being 1000 Nm offshore living in a tiny 20ft section of a 60ft boat is the kind of thing that makes one try that little bit harder with creating positive social interaction- besides I tolerate no shouting unless it is a question of safety and that soon calms things down in a sport already awash with testosterone.

A little excitement whilst I was writing this blog- the tack line holding the front lower corner or 'tack' of the spinnaker to the bowsprit blew out with a rig shaking BANG! What ensued was a perfect example of newly found professionalism and restraint. No shouting, swearing, running or waving of arms- the guys just snuffed the kite within one minute and we went forward to inspect the situation. A quick work around was conceived and implemented and within 20 minutes we were back up to full speed.

I really like it when it gets this on board - a calm, courteous, clean, enjoyable environment to work in. Now if only I can persuade this team to come back for the Caribbean 600 and we can start from this point and move forward - wouldn’t that be something?

All's well on Challenger.

Crew member on ITA15111 Hatha Maris

on . Posted in Blogs

Tuesday, December 5th 2017

Another long or short night (depends of the point of view) is behind us and

a beautiful morning welcomes us to another day in the Atlantic. Finally

good wind (15kn from the quarter) is moving us closer to our destination at

a more reasonable speed (averaging 6+ kn lately). The big swell keeps us

awake whilst at the helm (I love to surf on it, but I don’t like those

erratic side kicks), and helps us fall asleep when in our bunk… I feel more

and more comfortable by the day to sail Hatha Maris through the ocean.

And you may wonder, what we are doing beside sailing, sleeping, eating, or

cleaning?

It may be just a 40 feet boat, but put a bunch of crazy girls on Hatha

Maris and it suddenly feels like a big cruise liner: Welcome on Deck 4, our

crafts desk; Is there something to fix? is there some technical stuff to

do? do you want to create a new fancy bracelet using lines? Join us on Deck

4. Do you need a massage, wanna do some fitness or yoga? Then Deck 2 is

your place! Of course our Sun Deck is open the whole day. Should you wish

taking a bath in our thousand miles wide pool, please help yourself to Deck

5 (or was it Deck 6? Can’t remember…), no need to ask our butler, the pool

is always open during daytime. And today we actually welcomed all our crew

members on Deck 2 for a much needed shower! It was really time now. The

dirty laundry instead can be dropped at the reception. surely someone will

deal with it...or not?!?

Being so close together in a confined space like a small boat really does

make you more creative. We are never bored, there is always something to do

when we are 'off duty'. For Thalita it’s sleeping, Francesca is studying

hard for her Yachtmaster, Sam instead takes care of her herbs garden down

below, whilst Lyssi has always something to fix and to check whether we are

still in the right direction towards Grenada. As for myself, I read a

book, sunbathe or nap. What else… I’m on Deck 4, where else!

Nicole

Ps. The Dolphins visited us yesterday evening again! We love them. And the

flying fishes are all around us. I am just waiting, till the first one

jumps onto our boat, people say they are very smelly

Crew member on GER7475 Lunatix

on . Posted in Blogs

Hello from Lunatix, on direct route to Grenada!

Both Crew an boat are doing well and enjoy brilliant sailing conditions for a few days now! After the upwind week it´s a pleasure to sail in winds between 15 to 25 knots and downwind sails have been up since Friday morning straight.

The on board routine is shifting with more attention to be paid, more crew being deployed at deck, just in case wipe-outs occuring in the sometimes bumpy conditions. Since todays dinner we know: There is no worse point of time for a first class wipe-out (including the boom almost halfway underwater) than the moment when dinner is served in half open bowls. It also told us the story of flying freeze dried noodles EVERYWHERE in the cockpit!

Since being in the trade winds another spectacle entertains us during the watch hours: Dozens of flying fish sometime appear out of nowhere and fly through the air, over the deck and sometimes unlucky pilots hit the cockpit which leaves us to rescue them as quick as possible, sometimes we are not sure if the flying fish emergency troops are fast enough to get all of them in time, sorry!! However an evil attack of one of those flying fish against our helmsman last night, hitting him right into the legs proofs: They are out for no good, so watch out guys.

Another battle has begun about the individual speed records for the guys on the helm with the leader board being refreshed every other hour.

Indeed these games help us to deal with the distance to sail still being quiet long given the fact we are already more than a week in that race! So a high downwind performance is all we need right now!

--

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

Jangada RORC Transatlantic Race - Day 9

Trade wind routine

Position 19.43 North, 28.36W

Wind 050-080 degrees, 12-21 knots

Weather 3/10 cumulus cloud

Air temperature 27.5 Celcius

Having been in the trade winds for a couple of days - our latitude is

now below 20 degrees north - we've settled into a routine of brisk

downwind sailing. We have mostly 15-17 knots of true wind speed, which

occasionally builds to 21 knots, from the east north east. That means

running deep at true wind angles of 160-165 to maintain our best speed

towards Grenada.

There's a complex swell pattern - we've now left behind most of the big

northerly swell that came from a low pressure in the north Atlantic, and

the local wind driven waves are growing in dominance, but there are

still awkward waves from the south east. If you sail too deep downwind

the seas knock the air out of the spinnaker and Jangada slows down.

Coverserly, steering high delivers impressive boat speed and a feeling

stability, but velocity made good suffers dramatically.

While it's not as exciting as reaching at hotter wind angles, we're

making good progress, mostly clocking speeds of 7-10 knots with

occasional prolonged surfs of up to 12 knots.

However, there's an obstacle in the way - a large area of high pressure

sitting right in the middle of where the trade winds should be around

700 miles to the west of us. That's why the fleet is predominately

heading west-south-west, to stay in the stronger favourable winds to the

south of the low. We've just gybed west to take advantage of a

favourable wind shift, and will then gybe back onto port tack early

tomorrow morning.

We're following on the heels of the much larger boats IRC Class 1,

hoping to pick off as many as we can on corrected time before the

finish. Otherwise, all is quiet out here, although there's more sealife

than in the apparently desolate zone north of the tradewind belt - we

have occasional dolphins, sea birds and flying fish, the latter in

schools of up to 20. We also have in sight the first two cruising yachts

we've seen since the start, who are also heading west towards the Caribbean.

Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JPK1010 Jangada

Crew member on GBR301 Challenger

on . Posted in Blogs

Hello from Spartan Challenger.

The last 24hrs have seen a remarkable change for us - gone are the flat waters and open skies of the high we traversed in the last few days to be replaced by the fluffy white clouds and evenly marching lines of waves forging ever West that mark our entry into the trade winds. For those not in the know, at this time of year between approximately 15N and 25N the trade winds in the northern hemisphere blow in a continuous band flowing North East to South West creating a wonderful downwind ride for those wishing to sail from Europe or North Africa to the Caribbean; our ancestors were not unaware of this and hence the name 'tradewinds'.

For modern race boats these conditions are near perfect to eat up the miles, surfing along on waves that are themselves doing 15 knots in winds that blow constantly in the direction we wish to travel- it is not hard to understand therefore that this route is considered a nirvana for those with seasalt in their veins.

On board Spartan Challenger we continue to hone our skills- those who last week were piloting Ruffians on lakes in the North of England are now getting used to the scale of things on a Whitbread 60. The spinnaker is the size of a tennis court, the ropes have a breaking strain of 8800kgs, the rig is 90ft and the boat's desire to set off like a greyhound must be constantly

held in check until I feel everyone is happy with 'what comes next' should things start depart from the game plan in unexpected heavy winds. Such is the life of a Sail Training Boat- maximum performance is only ever possible on almost the last day of the event!

Last night crewmen Rob Copely and Rupert Powlesland report having a great watch helming by the stars under a nearly full moon with the A3 kite & full main up. As they enjoyed their sailing dolphins dived and played next to the boat in the bioluminescence creating great plumes of sparkling light under water and backlit torpedo trails that criss-crossed the boat's bow and wake. It was a unique night of sailing that will long be remembered I am told; however, if I know the tradewinds as well as I think- it is just the first of many such fantastic transatlantic memories.

All's well on Spartan Challenger.

Crew member on ITA15111 Hatha Maris

on . Posted in Blogs

Thursday November 30th

Still not a lot of wind... Everyone tried hard to keep Hatha Maris moving,

with (no) wind around 3 to 4 kts. Sometimes we even went backwards :-0 !!

Early this morning Sammi, Francesca and Lyss saw a whale and later a

turtle! At 6 am, when the watch from Thalita and myself started, the wind

was coming back a bit and we had the best thing for a good start of the day

– dolphins! At least 20! For me it was the first time (nearly everything

that happens during this trip is the first time for me...) to see them

playing so close to the bow! So great! And with this beautiful start we

then enjoyed a great day with steady wind, sun and many happy people. Sam

feels much better now (she is been quite seasick lately) and we are more

and more into the onboard life. Dancing, singing, laughing…. and sailing of

course!

Francesca and Sam are now getting ready for their watch – time to go to

sleep and get ready for the night. Still not my favourite watch. Good

night. Nicole.

Friday, December 1st 2017

Close encounters of the spanish kind

At change of watch last night a huge light was noticed tucked under the

jib. Look once, look away. Look twice, look away. Look 3 times, and its

definitely not an optical illusion. IT IS another vessel! the AIS showed

not a light house but a 50 metre boat with “moored” as its status while

doing 8-9 knots straight at us. Hailed them on VHF channel 16, nothing.

Dial MMSI, still nothing. Alienic light getting closer, we shine the

searchlight on our sails to make ourselves more visible. After 10 minutes

of watching the “strobe” light as Francesca called it, the alien answered

in Spanish, sounding shocked at encountering our little 12m boat in the

middle of nowhere. Lyss got them to change course and the excitement was

over. Made for a quick watch though… Sammi

Saturday December 2nd, 2017

It is fantastic being the skipper of the boat… you might think it means you

get coffee in bed and tell people what to do, but no, it basically means

that even when we are becalmed I don’t sunbathe, sleep, eat snacks, relax,

or read like everyone else… unless it is instructions manual. At this

point I have had the opportunity to fix a bit of everything, from small

gluing jobs to replacing the pin holding the vang to the boom which had

severed (!), sawing off a piece of a batten of the mainsail, whipping

lines, sewing a new bolt rope tape onto the genoa, replacing a piece of

chain on the forward stay with dyneema (really proud of my splicing that

one)...

Also, I have now developed a much more intimate relationship with Brian and

Kurt: Kurt has been behaving as of late and is not too jealous, but Brian

keeps acting up, gifting us with water and fiberglass sawdust so that I

have to hang out with him a few times a day. No we don't have men onboard

and no, we are not losing our mind (yet)...Brian and Kurt are the names we

have given to our bilges. Much easier than saying 'the bilge forward of the

sink to starboard..' More names to come in the next episodes for sure!

The current challenge at the moment is managing our power as we have

something that is draining the batteries more than is logical. Solar

panels are working, but yesterday our course had them both in the shade

most of the time, making for fun amperage consumption calculations.

And finally our main issue so far has been solved: yesterday was the first

day that our satellite phone actually enabled us to get updated weather

information, and transmit files since we left, hence the three days blog.

Thank you Franco and Brook on the home team helping with that! Weather

routing using the clouds or via satellite sms doesn’t make us very

competitive…

Oh and yes, I admit I did get to go SWIMMING while we were becalmed. It was

absolutely beautiful! Always good to know you can breaststroke faster than

your own boat. Ok, while I was at it I did a hull check and made sure that

the log still worked as we were getting 0.00kn of boat speed for over two

hours… but more on that later.

Lyssandra

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

Swell!

Swell to the left of me. Swell to the right of me. That pretty much

sums up the past 24 hours. There is a gentle 2-3m rolling swell from

the north, fuelled by the low pressure systems. In the opposite

direction from the South East is a small swell, from the SE Trades

perhaps, or is that a little far fetched. On top of that the NE Trades

have started to kick in a little chop from behind. All of which

conspire to knock us off course or collapse the kite. Rupert is now

doing his best to maintain that magic 130 degree wind angle.

Meanwhile I have an irritating nursery song on constant replay in my

head - "We're going this way, that way, over the deep blue sea....."

All I need now is "....a bottle of rum to fill my tum, and that's the

life for me"! Grenada - only 2,180nm to go.

Richard and Rupert

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

Jangada - 7 days since race start.

Position: 24.0N 24.5W

Distance sailed: 939nm

Distance made good: 640nm

Average course speed: 3.8kn

7 days since we started and we have finally made it over the top of the

hill and running down to the finish line.

With an average course speed of 3.8kn it's been a long slow climb up

that hill. We normally reckon on around 5.5kn for course speed (average

boat speed + extra distance sailed for optimum routes).

It was 48 hours ago that we made the decision to turn south. The

European weather models that we have been using predicted an opportunity

to pass over the ridge with light northerly winds and no big "park up"

stuck in the middle of a High. The forecast was spot on. The pressure

is now falling and we have an 8kn NE breeze, champagne sailing!

Code 0 flying to speed us south towards the more consistent and stronger

breezes. Our heading due south is 60 degrees off course - a pain we have

to suffer now to pick up those Trade Winds.

Although we are leading IRC Class 2, and the two-handed boats, we are

currently 13th in IRC overall. The wind shadow north of Tenerife was

not kind to us and is reflected in our ranking. However there are still

three boats north of the ridge that need to get south. There is also a

pack of five IRC0/1 boats up to 300nm ahead. With 2,200nm still to go

the race is still on. The IRC0 fleet are probably out of reach now, but

it would be nice to claim a few scalps from the IRC1 fleet.

Time to change spinnakers...

Richard & Rupert

Jangada

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

The Tapas Bar at the Top of the Ridge

Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JPK1010 Jangaga

Position: 25.24N 24.26W

True wind speed: 6.4 knots

True wind angle: 58 degrees

Boat speed: 5.1 knots

Air temperature: 27.4 Celcius

Weather: Sun

One of the joys of sailing long distances is that it gives time to slow

down and appreciate the joys of some the important essentials of life.

After five full-on days of racing in constantly changing conditions, and

often confused seas, that have demanded constant attention today has

brought a welcome change.

By breakfast time the wind had settled into a steady 6-7 knots from the

west-southwest, giving a much easier day in prospect as we head south on

starboard tack into the narrow ridge of high pressure that's separating

us from the tradewinds that will eventually push us the rest of the way

to the Caribbean.

After 30-40 minutes of tweaking sail and pilot settings we got the boat

set up to look after herself, with human intervention only needed to

keep a lookout and monitor course and speed. As I write we're hitting

more than 100 per cent of polars, even though neither of us has touched

the helm, or a piece of string, for more than four hours. As for other

traffic, it's 24 hours since we last had a target on the AIS and the

only other life we've actually seen is dolphins.

That's given time to sleep, to do a few small jobs around the boat, and

have a leisurely lunch: freshly-made hummous, Iberian cured ham, cheese,

pate de campagne, fresh vegetables and tasty Spanish olives, washed down

with a couple of cold beers - the first we've had since Friday last week.

Even if the normal fare when racing is easier to prepare, there's still

time to slow down when eating to savour the flavours of the different

ingredients. The same is true even for snacks, where a flapjack isn't

something to be rushed in a couple of bites, and a couple of slices of

dried mango make a great treat in the middle of a long night watch.

The normal routine on Jangada consists of muesli or porridge for

breakfast, wraps with chorizo or ham, cheese, iceberg lettuce fresh

pepper etc for lunch. Evening meals are invariably pre-packaged dinners

that can be boiled in the bag, using the Jetboil, with added rice or

noodles and veg. To keep energy levels constant through the day and

night we also have a huge variety of snacks, including fresh and dried

fruit, nuts, cereal bars, homemade cake and the aforementioned flapjacks.

Caption: Lunch in the Tapas Bar at the Top of the (high pressure) Ridge.

Crew member on GER7475 Lunatix

on . Posted in Blogs

Hey Ho from on board Lunatix,

Wind?! Anyone seen any? If so send some over please.. We are not asking for much but a little to keep our Lady moving and the crew in a good mood. The last 24h have been a moral test for anyone on board. Result: Everyone passed, at least so far.

On our way to the trade winds we have to go through a belt of very light winds, thats at least what we hoped for, it turned out to be even less than light. To be exact 0.0kn TWS for a good part of last night and only a very light breeze in the morning hours. The bright sunshine and hot conditions lead to a interesting debate if we would prefer cold weather and wind or stay here in the sunny no wind conditions. No result found here, well no need because we are not moving anyway.

Over the last hour a it looks like a bit of pressure has established and we are able to move again. The S2 is up and we are slowly sailing towards sunset, thats at least the right direction.

Biggest question of the day is: Whats coming up for diner? Rumors occurred that there is a good chance of noodles. (What a surprise, we had noodles for diner in different variations every night so far.) Buuut we figured out what turns all kind of noodles into a delicious meal al la Italia: Cheese, more cheese with a topping of even more cheese and chili powder. Terrible rumors came up that both will run out pretty soon. Which leaves us with the hope of wind, to reach Grenada and a restaurant without noodles!!! But maybe with Bar and some Rum attached..?

Crew member on GBR301 Challenger

on . Posted in Blogs

Hello from Challenger!

Some keener minds may have noticed that we have taken a somewhat different route compared to the rest of the fleet-choosing to head South rather than West after leaving the Canary Islands in a bid to A. Avoid a protracted period of beating, B. Avoid going straight into the forecast strong downwind conditions thereafter with a crew who were new to the boat C. Take a punt- why not.  Whilst our progress so far in the race might not have been meteoric I can say without a shadow of a doubt that so far we are really enjoying the trip  and the crew although new to Spartan have settled well into life at sea.

The past 48hrs have without a doubt been frustrating and I feel for those across the fleet who still have a similar experience ahead of them as they make their own passage across the snake of zero wind that is presently sunning it’s self across the mid Atlantic. Whilst of course as a crew we knew going in that the conditions would be very light south of 25N it is always still a surprise to me when even with such a decent power to weight ration, new code zero and a lot of crew focus the boat finally inevitably grinds to a stop.

It's bizarre that even after so many miles at sea my initial instinct is still that somehow the boat should always keep moving whatever the blue/purple hue forecast on PredictWind. When that foundational block of 'quantifiable progress' is removed and the bus parks it’s self it always takes me a good few hours to shake off the stress of immobility and start to appreciate the beauty of my new surroundings.

For those who have never been in such a situation offshore surrounded by absolutely flat glassy sea, may I share with you one experience from the other night.

Just around sunset the entire sky became filled with vivid shades of lilac and pink but in such a manner that the boundary between the sea and the sky became uniquely obscured . The resulting effect of the sea reflecting sky and the sky seemingly reflecting the sea was that everything merged into one homogenous, beautifully coloured sphere within which we floated. It was quite beautiful and yet strangely unsettling as it left the observer with a feeling of total disconnectedness to not only the world outside but even such simple seagoing securities as the horizon, clouds and stars.

It’s a race yes but wow there is more to it than that. We intend to get our money’s worth.

All's well on Spartan Challenger.