Reports from Boats, June 22

From Spirit of Bermuda, Captain Karen McDonald

Spirit of Bermuda starting   Friday. (Daniel Forster/PPL)

Spirit of Bermuda starting Friday. (Daniel Forster/PPL)

Saturday, June 21, 0800. It was an exciting yet slow start to the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race yesterday.  At 1300, Spirit’s start time, the gradient wind (NW) was being overtaken by the sea breeze (S).  We made it across the line a few seconds after the gun.

Once we cleared Narragansett Bay, the sea breeze won out and gave us a decent breeze til sunset.  As the wind dropped out, it became very shifty, with much sail handling.  After midnight we found ourselves in the midst of the fleet, with some large commercial traffic passing through as we crossed the Nantucket to Ambrose traffic separation scheme.

The breeze has filled in again this morning and we are back up to 7+ kts.  The wind is expected to lighten again later, before we begin to feel the wind effects of a low pressure and associated front moving off of Cape Hatteras tomorrow.  Watch to watch competition is fierce on who will cover the most miles before we get to Bermuda.

Sunday, June 22, o800.  We had more wind than expected during the day yesterday morning and were able to maintain 6-8kts until the wind began to drop out around 1400.  In the evening and overnight, the wind dropped out completely and set us and the rest of the fleet nearby adrift in the Gulf Stream.  We had a few close quarters situations with other participants, which was only an issue due to the lack of maneuverability for all parties involved.  Significant precaution was taken on all ends and we have carried on safely.  Around 0600 this morning the breeze filled in out of the east at 12-15kts, and we have been making 7.5 -8 .0 kts under full sail.  Spirit is slowly beginning to pass much of the fleet that has been surrounding us over the past two days. . . .

Everyone is having a good time despite the frustration about the drop in wind.  The energy on board has picked back up now that we have some wind in our sails.  Watch out fleet!  Here we come!! The competition between the three watches continues to be exciting….we will see who wins!

From Gryphon Solo 2, Captain Joe Harris: “Parked Up”

Gryphon Solo2 at the start. (Barry Pickthall/PPL)

Gryphon Solo2 at the start. (Barry Pickthall/PPL)

We are in day 2 of the 2014 Newport-Bermuda Race and while there has been some really nice sailing at times, we are currently “parked up” as the saying goes, waiting for the “re-start”. We are about 200 miles out from Newport and only about 38 miles from our target entrance to the Gulf Stream, the river of hot, fast water within the ocean that crosses at nearly a right angle to the rhumb line course from Newport to Bermuda. We were expecting to be there tonight but our journey has been delayed by the complete absence of wind, which is a necessary component to this mode of transportation. My co-skipper Rob Windsor and I have been duking it out with our fellow Class 40 Pleiad Racing and I think we have exchanged the lead four times and remain within spitting distance of them at the moment. So our Class 40 battle within the double-handed class rages on, however we read that Mike Dreese on his new “Toothface 2” retired from the race (don’t know what happened but the report said everyone was OK), so that just leaves three of us to battle for the Bermuda Race Class 40 title.

We can see at least 20 other boats with sails slapping and the boats drifting on the glassy calm water. We had a nice interlude of fast sailing earlier today and were really looking forward to the warm water and interesting marine life in the Stream, but at this point we are simply part of a lovely sunset still life painting. It is tempting to take the sails down and take a nap, but the paranoid, neurotic instincts keep one glued to the tiller, trimming flapping sails and searching in vain for that next wind line.

Hopefully my next report will be a bit more exciting.

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