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  • A Call to AntarcticaOn March 10, 2009 at 13:43:19 French time, Skipper Rich Wilson and Great American III crossed the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne. Race time: 121 days, 41 minutes and 19 seconds
  • Thank you for all of your kind notes, and for joining us on another educational adventure at sitesALIVE!

 


Ship Log Archive: November, 2008

  • Nov
    30

    4913 Miles Down!

    Slept more last night, at the chart table, but with sleeping bag, boat rocketing along, the pain in my rib is stable/moderate. Had a big rainstorm in the middle of the night, but fortunately, no great squall accompanying. My friend Raphael Dinelli has detoured to Isle Trindade, east of Rio de Janeiro, to make a repair to his mainsail halyard. Apparently, the cover and core of the rope are presenting a problem through a jammer, and the sail (2 reefs) cannot go up or down.

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  • Nov
    29

    Paying the Penalty

    Way back at the start of the race, in the difficult conditions of a bad seaway six of the fleet, including us, missed a buoy that was supposed to be respected and left to starboard. We were notified of the infringement that afternoon. Finally this morning, the Jury assessed its penalty for the six boats, 30 minutes. This means that each boat that missed the buoy has to, according to the race committee, set a waypoint agreed to by the committee, sail to it, turn around, sail somewhere else for 30 minutes, and then come back through that exact point at least 30 minutes later.

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  • Nov
    28

    Ice Gate

    This is a screenshot of MaxSea, a weather analysis and routing software program that many of the boats use. The red icon is Great American III. The two blue lines, southwest of South Africa and in the Indian Ocean are ice gates. The boats are required to leave one point on each line to starboard. The two lines with many small boxes (each a time interval) show two routes. the northerly one goes through both gates. The southerly one was tried to see if by chance aiming at only the second gate would give an optimum route through the first gate.

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  • Nov
    28

    C'est un bel jour

    Le soleil brille, c'est un bel jour. Je suis arrete hier soir pour une heure et demi avec la grande voile pour fair une petite ajustment a la drisse. Je sais la raison pour l'equipe - pour hisser la grande voile! Aussi, j'ai fait un petit reparation a la zipper pour la trinquette. Aujourd'hui, j'ai fait une petit reparation pour un petit fuite dans la systeme pour le scoop a tribord. Mon dos semble meilleur et maintenant possible a faire ces petit reparations.

    Yesterday I had a nice talk on the satellite phone with my mother and sister.

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  • Nov
    26

    Rib Redux

    Today was an easy day for sail changes with only minor adjustments, but it was a difficult day for my back. Yesterday the pounding of the boat was so bad that I re-injured the rib that I think is fractured.

    Over the two weeks since the start of the race the injury had slowly gotten better, although sometimes it seemed like there was a sharp knife in my back when I was grinding the pedestal winch to hoist the main sail from one reef to the next (360 revolutions!)

    The pain had eased until it felt like only a butter knife in my back instead of a sharp knife.

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  • Nov
    24

    Making Choices

    95 miles to the equator. We thought that we'd escaped the doldrums yesterday, but that was not the case. On the weather maps you could see the pressure gradient chasing us south and ovetaking us again. 13 sail changes in 15 hours last night and this morning. It was beyond fatiguing trying to keep up with the squalls and light air spots, to keep the boat moving in the right direction. It was also very painful for my back and rib, but I can't stop for that.

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  • Nov
    23

    The Doldrums

    I think that we're through the doldrums, finally. Yesterday was a bad day. We sailed into the doldrums in the dark of the morning, under a cloud so black and foreboding that it seemed as though we were entering a tunnel or cave. We got through, but then it started to get light as the sun rose, and by mid-morning we had 0.0 boatspeed. The sails were slatting (flapping around and not filled with wind), and this is very bad for them.

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  • Nov
    20

    Repair Consultation

    13/25N 24/31 W, about 100 nm south of Cape Verde Islands. Genaker (biggest jib) and one reef in the mainsail. Making about 11 knots in 16 knots of NE wind. Noticed that the port tube that holds the sheaves that control the keel had rotated on its axis and moved slightly out of its position. Remembered that when serviced, sledge hammers were involved. I was nervous that perhaps I could not get it back to where it is supposed to be.

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  • Nov
    19

    Rudders and Birds

    16/14N 22/19W, wind NE at 15, speed 10 kts, course 200deg, approaching ne islands of Cape Verde Islands. Went through the night last night with the reacher and a reef in the main. Was very tired, and so even this morning, when the wind lightened, I held off changing sails not wanting to completely overreach in my fatigue. Last night was a beautfiul night, but the radar detector kept going off for th second night in a row, but I saw no ships.

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  • Nov
    17

    Sail Changes

    24/07N - 18/17W, 17 kts NE, boatspeed, 12 knots, spinnaker, full mainsail, autopilot. Changed from spinnaker to genaker last night at midnight when the wind dropped to 5 knots and the spinnaker would drag in the water. The genaker was better, more stable, made about 5 knots through the night, trying to escape to the west, from the little low pressure that spun off the African desert. We'd headed west, to cross paths with Pakea likely, he is in light air too.

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  • Nov
    16

    The Spinnaker Challenge

    26/35N 16/42W 7 knots north wind, spinnaker, full main, 8 knots, on course of 223degT. Last night, we sailed close aboard Gran Canaria Island in the Canary Islands. We sailed to the east fo the island to not sustain the lee of the easterly breeze. The lights of Las Palmas shone brightly, planes took off and landed at the airport, ships came and went from the port.

    It was almost exactly 30 years ago that I sailed my first trans-Atlantic passage, Sardinia-Gibraltar-Canaries-Barbados.

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  • Nov
    15

    Among the Canary Islands

    28/40N 15/23W, 1520Z, 22kts wind at ENE, course 180T, at 14 knots, solent and 1 reef in mainsail. Heading to pass Gran Canaria Island in the Canary Islands just to the east so as not to sail through her lee on the other side, and to not sail downwind slowly. Yet we do sacrifice some mileage to the west, so not sure if this is the right choice.

    Spoke with Dr. Brien Barnewolt last night at Tufts Medical Center in Boston again, for our daily info session on my back.

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  • Nov
    14

    Autopilot Adjustments

    33/06N 14/01W, Wind NE @ 18 kts, boatspeed 12 kts. Worked considerably today on the autopilot setups. This race is between sailors, but also between boatbuilders, sailmakers, riggers, and the autopilots. I found that I couldn't carry the sail that I thought I should be able to carry, because the pilot couldn't hold the boat if it started to broach. Thus we were giving away speed. After much reading in the manual, and a consultation with our electronics advisor ashore, I made two adjustments.

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  • Nov
    13

    Lighter Wind & Interview at Sea

    Wind is North at 17 knots, barometer is 1028mb and slowly dropping, boats speed is 10-13 knots, sails are reacher and full main.

    Last night I rolled up the solent and hoisted the reacher at about 10pm. The wind had dropped and we were not going up to speed. I then hoisted the mainsail from the first reef to the full main, 260 revolutions on the pedestal winch, and my aching back from the fall I took felt every revolution.

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  • Nov
    12

    The Challenge of Rough Weather

    As the cold front approached the fleet, there were periods of intense rain. Before the front, there were forecast to be 40-45 knots of wind. These appeared. With big seas, heavy rain being blown at 45 knots, it was difficult to see, and when our radar detector signalled a ship approaching, I could see nothing on the horizon in any direction. I decided to try my new goggles, and they worked better. After 30 minutes, still without seeing a ship, the detector stopped beeping and I went below.

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  • Nov
    11

    A Tough Beginning

    The winds at the start had been predicted for 10 days to be very strong and building. My great shore crew got off into our rented inflatable after hugs all around. I started with staysail and one reef in the main, to be safe and under control. After clearing the fleet of spectator boats, only the zodiacs with shore crew and the helicopters followed the fleet to sea. One by one they dropped off to head back to shore. Zodiacs with friends from other teams swung by me for a last wave of encouragement.

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  • Nov
    11

    Preparing to Leave Les Sables d'Olonne

    Nov 9, 2008

    At the boat by 7:30 am, we had been given special tags to get through the police barriers which blocked certain roads near the port. At 7am, in the dark, there were hordes of people walking from cars parked well away from the harbor. The French are amazing. They had pondered what was about to be undertaken, to sail around the world alone, and they wanted to be there to send off the skippers. They wanted everyone to do well and come home safely.

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