Several boats finished late Tuesday afternoon, including the first boats in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division—Merlin, Kodiak, and Temptation – Oakcliff.
The boats in the second half of the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division Class 15 began to finish after a long wait on Tuesday, led by Privateer, Scott Innes-Jones’ Cookson 50, and Young American – Gambler, the Reichel/Pugh 63 sailed by Young American Sailing Academy. Keeping pace with this group were the first three boats in St. David’s Lighthouse Division: Merlin, the custom Bill Lee sled owned by Chip Merlin, Kodiak, Llwyd Ecclestone’s Reichel/Pugh 66, and Temptation – Oakcliff, a Ker 50 skippered by Arthur Santry. The first Open Division boat, the experimental design Maverick, also finished, and very likely won the competition, as well, for the most Tweets achieved for the race.
As the boats were finishing, the race’s social media commentator Nic Douglass, Adventures of a Sailor Girl, provided this Facebook Live update on fleet positions:
Bloggers aboard Dreamcatcher and Shearwater in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division and Inisharon in the Finisterre Division kept us abreast of the action aboard, as did several other Tweeters in the fleet, which was finally experiencing good breezes.
June 19 – 0700
Has been a busy early morning as the MudRatz are getting the first taste of blue water over the bow of Dreamcatcher. With the rising sea state and breeze, the crew is transitioning and hoping not to fall victim to seasickness, so far so good. The water over the deck is a nice change from the champagne sailing they have seen so far this race. The water was needed to help rid the deck of the ‘phantom crumbs’ that have accumulated on the deck from all the snacks eaten.
A brief encounter with a pod of dolphins dancing in the bioluminescent-lighted bow waves at 430am was a welcome break from confused eddy-generated waves. It soon was over and the crew was reminded of the sad truth of plastic pollution as a cooler floated by. Over the four days at sea so far, the crew has noticed considerable amounts of plastic, balloons being the most prominent. It is a refreshing change to see race organizers ask competitors to track the balloons that they see in hopes to raise awareness. The ocean is our playground, our office and the home of interesting wonders, and it is our job to protect it and keep it clean. A crewmember made the compelling statement that the team is only seeing the big pieces of plastic waste, not the micro plastics that are plaguing the oceans’ ecosystems.
The pollution is not keeping the MudRatz down as the enjoyment of driving over waves and the increase in speed is bringing smiles to everyone. We are at last seeing a small taste of what the younger crew was expecting on the race…the ocean never lets us down.
June 18 – 1430
Today has been busy on our first day of really some spirited sailing. We like our company aboard and with the boats we see around us. It’s impressive how fast the MudRatz have adapted to life at 25 degrees heel, as we blast along toward the island with a full main and No. 1 genoa.
Last night was a major leap for us, as we found the fast current of the cold eddy with some exploratory tacking to the west. We were in good company as we climbed to weather with a major lee bow assist. Now it’s just a waiting game to see who appears from down to the east.
June 19 – 1100
It was a very busy night last night, and crew are showing signs of fatigue. A bit of excitement as both wind picked up considerably in strength and also did not veer as predicted. Our course had expected the wind to veer sooner, avoiding having to throw in a tack, which would essentially send us the opposite direction of Bermuda.
We held out for as long as we could and finally made the call and begrudgingly tacked. It served us well, and we are now making the angles that we needed.
Wind picked up quite a bit as did the wave action. We put in a reef and changed to the No.2 headsail so she wasn’t on her ear. It has proved effective, and we are putting very good numbers on the speedo.
Ride continues to be akin to being on a mechanical bull, very bumpy and wave action is a confused sea.
Our hope is the competition does not fare as well as we do in these conditions. Smaller or lighter boats get pushed around a lot in this kind of conditions, whereas Inisharon tends to plow through it.
No one is jumping for breakfast, given the conditions are lively; I suspect a protein bar or trail mix will be the meal for the day.
Equipment is all good, nothing broken and the boat is getting her legs now.
Got to run, all the best.
June 19 – 1200
What a difference a day makes! Overnight, the winds picked up and Shearwater is finally in her element. That being said, it’s not quite the crews’ element. Conducting normal activities like cooking, dressing, showers, using the bathroom, etc., are vastly more difficult in weather conditions.
A disclaimer: Those of you who are susceptible to motion sickness might want to skip this section…
OK, if you are reading this then you are comfortable with the (those not, ought to have a bucket ready) rolling, pitching, heeling and thumping for hours on end accompanied by (in the cabin at least) some pretty rank gym and cooking smells and slippery floors. Visualize? So that’s what’s happening now, its not conducive the blogging, cooking or otherwise relaxing below decks. Topside, the deck is wet and slippery with water from rain squalls or wash from the rollers that are creating the up-down-corkscrewing-yawling motion (still with me?). Oh, when on deck, we suit up in foul weather (and by now smelling) gear which, while waterproof (mostly) from outside moisture are most definitely up to the task of keeping sweat in. Our gear also includes life preservers we call PFDs (probable because if they don’t save you, it should make your body easy to recover) and safety tether which, when used as directed, should prevent inadvertent separation from your boat.
Squeamish people can join back in here.
Last night we were a bit east of the course we wanted, so we decided to tack west for a period to stay closer to our intended course. Shearwater is a cutter-rigged boat, which means that she has a mainsail and two sails forward of the mast. When rigged this way, tacking is a bit more complicated. So, because it was 10 pm and dark, all hands turned out to accomplish the task which went off without a hitch.
Winds picked up, and we dropped the jib, leaving the main and staysail up—an easier tacking proposition when we decided to return to our prior course. Around 1 pm, Thora who had been overtaking us, approached from our port quarter and we initiated contact on the VHF to make sure that she passed us safely. Thora confirmed her intentions and said we ought to be fine so long as Shearwater maintained her course (I’m pretty sure that was a not too subtle dig at my driving competency). Gretchen sighed off with a perky (for 2 am), “Bye!”
Later that night Dan, Mark, Rich & Dennis made additional sail changes as conditions changed. Their help on things during our watch, coupled with increasing winds and seas meant that they had very little sleep last night.
Our watch started at 6 am, and conditions are as i described above. We’ve reefed the main, so now we’re sailing with the reefed main and No. 3 jib on course for Bermuda (196 miles south). We’re making good progress with boat speeds in the 7-8 kt range. Our AIS system is showing 8 boats in close proximity to us.
I expect this might have been a drier post than usual, I just don’t think I’ve properly described sailing Shearwater when she’s at her best.
Weather permitting, I’ll try to get another email out later today.
June 19 – 1330
Luxury Experience – Rolex? Mercedes? Michael Kors? Cartier? – NOT
Klondike Bars mid-Atlantic – YES! What would YOU do for a Klondike bar?
Luxury, seriously sourced, responsibly driven.
June 19 – 1700
Good afternoon from about 150nm miles north of Bermuda.
I wanted to take this opportunity to relate a little drama unfolding right now.
Earlier this afternoon, Whisper, a boat in the double handed class radioed to the fleet that they had experienced complete electronics failure and were limited to hand held radio and GPS units with no ability to recharge them. The call was answered by Legacy V who took Whisper‘s problems under their wing, relaying messages to the race committee and family. In doing that, Legacy V enlisted the cooperation and potential aid of other fleet participants in Whisper‘s plight. At this time, according to the radio communications we heard, Whisper had a plan to finish the race and was in good condition (electronics failure, excepted). Even as I write this, Legacy V continues to initiate communications in Whisper’s support.
What I got out of this is the close community these participants form – they might not know each other, but they are willing to assist at the drop of a hat. Even though we’re in the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 150 miles from Bermuda, we are not alone so long as there are competitors like Legacy V and the others willing to lend a hand. It is truly an honor to be among these people.