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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: December, 2008

  • Dec
    31

    Finally! Some Easy Miles

    12/31/2008 0828utc 51/17S 145/03E 11.0 knots at 100T, 17 knots wind SW, solent and one reef, SMOOTH SEAS.

    We've been making good time today, in the right direction, with little loading of the boat. I can't remember when we last did this. The boat is sailing very well, balanced, nearly full keel cant, for the slight variations in the wind direction and speed that are normal. The balance of the sails and the autopilot is good, we keep charging along, and power occasionally up to 16/17 knots, but without the chaotic charges down waves up to the 20s that we've had in the storms before.

    We can see the horizon, and it's been a while since we've seen that also.

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  • Dec
    30

    No Relief from Squalls Yet

    0646 utc 50/55S 137/38E, speed 11 knots, solent and 2 reefs in the mainsail, course 090T.

    Well the gales and the lows that have crushed us for a week are gone for now, which sounds as though we must be mightily relieved, and we are, except for what has happened in the aftermath. Not quite fetching the west end of the east Australian ice gate, I gybed last night northeast, to get to more wind on the grib file.

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  • Dec
    29

    An Inspiration to Me

    0106utc 50/42S 130/41E, solent et deux ris dans la grande voile, 11.5 knots. Moving toward the East Australian ice gate.

    Despondent about Derek. After returning for repairs after the start, he had sailed brilliantly through the Atlantic, catching up many miles. He was relentless and had gained on our group of 2 (with Artemis) to make a group of three. Brothers in arms through the last week of severe gales of 45-55knots each. Our group talked on the phone through these gales, and through Christmas.

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  • Dec
    28

    One Monster Sea

    0833utc 50/11S 126/55E 9 knots, storm jib, course 095T, gale still blowing, big, big seas still running. Can't tell windspeed as our wind instruments have become erratic, but think in 35-45 knot range now, down from last night, when squalls again to 55 knots regularly came through. The last 5 days are a blur, one low after another after another after another, and not quick ones of a few hours, but 18 hours 20 hours long. In the middle of last night's maelstrom, I went forward to lash the two furlers, thinking that if one of those came loose, either with broken line or otherwise, that would be the end of that sail.

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  • Dec
    27

    Thrown from the Bunk

    12/27 0315utc 49/35S 119/47 W, staysail, 11.7 knots. Awaiting next gale, should arrive in 6 hours, expected severe, will go to storm jib beforehand. Well it was inevitable, the being thrown from the bunk, finally happened last night, and I had a one point landing on my left eyebrow after a fall of 1.5 meters with my head leading the way.

    Cut patched up on Rich Wilson's eyebrowComing out of the bunk and through the opening in the bulkhead is as if your body is funnelled so that your head lands first.

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  • Dec
    26

    We're in Survival Mode

    1105utc we are at 48/54S   115/53E, making 10 knots with staysail only, in 35-45 knots of wind, yet again. Distance covered last 24 hours: 216.6 nautical miles. Cannot in my memory now discern the different lows that have gone by, they just all blur together over about the last 4-5 days, and by the forecast, we have another 2 days of this to go. The staysail is mostly too much sail, the storm jib is right for the 45-50+, but too little for the 35.

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  • Dec
    25

    Merry Christmas!

    1125 utc 48/14s 110/29e, 8.2 knots under storm jib awaiting new low. Distance covered during last 24 hours: 264.1 nautical miles. Thought would be very careful tonight, 40 knots now, baro 987 and descending. Bailed 8 buckets out of forward 3 compartments this afternoon--amazing that water gets through all best efforts to keep it out. With main down and amidships, was able to inspect and improve the lashings i did hanging out on the end of the boom while sailing, a lot easier to do it from the deck!

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  • Dec
    24

    Opposite Ends of the Earth

    1046z 47/06s 105/08e. Distance covered in last 24 hours: 264.1 nautical miles. Passed west Australia ice gate this morning. 45-50 knots of wind again, for duration, grib files are off by 10-15-20 knots continually, 20-25 foot breaking seas, 3rd reef main, no jib thru night, then 3rd reef plus storm jib, now just storm jib, making 8-10knots, giving away miles, trying to save boat, hit 23 knots with 3rd reef main, no jib, doesn't help finishing.

    Emails with folks back home quite emotional.

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  • Dec
    23

    Albatross Alert!

    0500z 46/07s 97/289e, 11.7 knots @ 085degT, 20 knots wind west. Distance covered in past 24 hours: 248.9 nautical miles. Gybed this morning between two weather systems, en route to Western Australia ice gate.

    A few days ago, an odd event occurred. I thought an albatross made an aerodynamic mistake. On a starboard gybe, the albatross came in low to leeward under the solent, in turbulence, flapped wings a couple of times (rare for an albatross), then looked as though it realized it couldn't bank to make the bow, and nose-dived into the water two meters off the side of the boat.

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  • Dec
    22

    A Very COLD Shower!

    1905 UTC, 45/54S 95/02E, 10.9 knots speed 25 knots wind WSW, 11007 nm on log, solent and 3 reefs in the main. 

    Big seas today with winds 30/35/40. Same as last night. The seaway was very impressive. Spent time toning up desalinator today, snugging hose clamps, un-crimping corners of tubing, as we have a fairly long run to get seawater to the unit.

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  • Dec
    21

    Harrowing Sea Conditions

    46/30S 87/25E, 35-45knots wind, 3 reefs in mainsail, no jib, 11 knots speed at 055T. Distance covered the past 24  hours: 241.5 nautical miles. Hammered yet again, big seas breaking, barograph descended, then steadied as front came through with gradual windshift, not sudden. Had nice conversation w/Jonny Malbon today, he has 50 knots, a bit further south by position and ahead of us. 

    Rolled up staysail a few hours ago when we hit 23 knots down a wave, too much stress, on rig, boat, and skipper. 

    Had Auto ID System close encounter a while ago.

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  • Dec
    20

    Phone Call Home

    1300utc, 48/14S 81/15E, 25-30 knots west wind, making 12.9 knots at 065deg course True, solent and 2 reefs in the mainsail. Distance covered in last 24 hours: 201.9 nautical miles.

    Had the reacher up for several hours this afternoon, much effort to get it up , much more effort to get it down when the wind built to 30 knots, one of the sail changes that shows very little result for the effort. Thinking of Yann all the time on the foredeck.

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  • Dec
    19

    Today's Report

     0918 UTC 46/51S 73/59E, 12.5 knots speed, 20 knots wind SW, Solent un ris dans la grande voile. Off the Kerguelen Plateau at long last, seas much smoother. Mini-front came through last night with wind shift. Wind dropped to 15 knots from 25/30 knots, had 3rd reef and staysail, rolled staysail to make gybe easier if we had strong gusts, then never did. But I remember distinctly in my study with Jean-Yves Bernot in the summer, he said "do not take Indian Ocean fronts lightly." So I didn't, gybed the 3rd reef, went along for a while awaiting a blast, and this time didn't get it, the text report had suggested perhaps gusts to 55/65 S of 46S, where we were, but didn't materialize.

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  • Dec
    18

    Kerguelen Crossing

    46/46/s 68/46E 1349 UTC 12/18/2008, 10 knots, staysail and 3 reefs in the main, 28-34knots wind, WNW, making E course. Distance covered in last 24 hours: 260 nautical miles.

    We were at 2 reefs and solent for a while, then we rocketed off too many waves at high speed, buried the bow, and loaded up the rigging too much for my comfort level. So we backed off, put in the 3rd reef, and then to the staysail when wind got up further.

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  • Dec
    17

    Repairs Underway

    Distance covered the last 24  hours: 246.3 nautical miles. Making fast progress with solent and 3 reefs in the main. Read Seb Josse's account of using his reacher and 3 reefs in the main, talk about front-wheel drive! So tried with solent and worked well. Lashed the two pieces of the broken titanium support railing together with vectran (non-stretch) 6mm line. The two exposed ends of the titanium weld are nasty sharp, and the opening between them had already captured the windward staysail sheet.

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  • Dec
    16

    Messy, Lumpy Seas

    0817z 47/11S 53/43E, south east of Isles Crozet. Distance covered in last 24  hours: 186.3 nautical miles. The wind is down from its hear hurricane strength last night, and the leftover sea is big and messy, and the boat is bouncing off waves in every direction, very unpleasant. We had steady 55/57 knots with periods in 60s also. The storm jib did good work, keeping us on a beam reach to get past the lee shore of isles Crozet. When we started down that south side, it was a nice broad reach, and it looked as if we'd be able to get past before the wind changed, but no....

    It was very cold.

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  • Dec
    15

    Tough Going

    No position 0930z (covered 255 nautical miles in last 24 hours), but I'm OK. Beacon problem i guess. Under storm jib alone, no mainsail, another 50 knots of wind not forecasted on charts; did broach then crash gybe this morning with pilot, terrible big seas, boom into runners, they held, grabbed helm, crash gybed back, then trimmed in storm jib to go upwind to let me lower 3rd reef  mainsail to boom, no mainsail now, tied down. Only storm jib.

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  • Dec
    14

    Getting Beaten Up by the Lows

    45/26S 42/44E 0710UTC. Distance covered in last 24 hours: 139.4 nautical miles. Another day, another low pressure system in the Southern Ocean. Yesterday, the problem was that I had a plan for sail changes, and then didn't follow it. 2 reefs in the main plus staysail, then 1 reef and staysail, then staysail rolled and storm jib.

    The winds were forecast for 30/35/40 knots the highest in a few places. So in the previous night, when I got to the 3rd reef, and the boat was going really nicely downwind, I rolled the staysail but didn't put up the storm jib.

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  • Dec
    13

    High Winds

    The weather files said 30/35 knots, 40 in some place, we had 45-55 knots gusting 62, for 16 hours. Came through. Now we have another low lining up behind us. That's all for today.

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  • Dec
    12

    Planning the Next Move

    47/01S 32/52E, staysail and 3 reefs in main, course NE. Distance covered in past 24 hours: 275.4 nautical miles. Planned to gybe mid-late afternoon as the wind shifted before the front, but on starboard gybe had a big lift, which may have precursored an early arrival of low. So gybed on it, and then the wind shifted again, so I'm heading off to the NE, not where I wanted to go, thought ENE, but here we are, not going to gybe twice again to save the miles, too much risk in gybing boat in 35 kntos of wind, which is what we have.

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  • Dec
    11

    Quick Update

    45/52S 27/50E, 13.4 knots, surging 12 to 20, in strong winds 30-35 knots gusting higher. Distance sailed in last 24 hours: 258.3 nautical miles. A low pressure system is forecast for tomorrow night. The weather files showwinds 35-40, and for now, only 25, but the much stronger preliminary winds may suggest a much stronger storm wind. Have staysail and 3 reefs in main. Have storm jib hanked on and ready to go.

    Put extra vectran lashings on two runner blocks after the terrible dismasting of Gitana 80.

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  • Dec
    10

    Cap de Bonne Esperance & Remembering 2001

    45/29S 21/13W, passed Cap de Bonne Esperance (Cape of Good Hope) this morning. Distance covered in last 24 hours: 214.8 nautical miles. Have shockingly beautiful sunny day, crystal blue sky, big bank of clouds overtaking of course, but great sailing today so far, reacher and 1 reef in the mainsail. Spent considerable time working on video editing and conversion and uploading this morning, many computer battles fought, some won some lost, but did get some good video last night of the moon and got it uploaded.

    Inspected forward two watertight compartments today in anticipation of low coming along in a couple of days.

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  • Dec
    09

    A Tired Brain

    44/44S 15/08E, course 075T, 12.5 knots, 224.8 nautical miles sailed in past 24 hours. None of the files showed the flat calm this morning for a whole bunch of hours. Found myself at 1.7 knots desperately trying to go S for more wind, so headed SW. It sounds bizarre, but moving ahead in the wrong direction is better than going nowhere at all. Wasn't far enough to the east in the strong wind train of the last days to get to the corner where it wrapped around the high and gave the mid-pack group a chance to gybe south, so when I got a shift myself, went southeast, but not enough, and lost a lot.

    In calm, switched pilot to fixed boat speed, then when the breeze finally came back, and with full main and reacher we were surging to 17/18 knots, pilot was wildly all over the place, why? wracking brain for solution, for Perf2, Narrow, Sport, RGAN (B&G users will recognize nomenclature), grabbed helm in wild broach, got it back, back to pilot, wild broach again, finally the little molecule of a solution came into my tired brain (only 45 min sleep in last 20 hrs) - put it back on boat speed!

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  • Dec
    08

    Charging Ahead

    43/39S 10/58E, reacher and full main, heading SE at 11 knots with 20 knots of west wind; 222 nautical miles sailed in past 24 hours. Did two gybes after big starboard gybe lift, but that new gybe was a bad direction, so shortly thereafter, gybed back. Perhaps need spinnaker, but with more wind supposed to come, think this combo is suitable. Except for the grey bank of clouds from which we emerged this morning, right now it is a crystal clear blue sky, sun is shining brightly, waves are crisp and blue, birds circling the boat.

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  • Dec
    07

    Weekend Update

     41/33S 7/21E, 7031 nm on the gps log, making 10 knots SE. After the strong winds of the last few days, sandwiched between a high and low to create a good gradient, we finally slipped out of the funnel and were faced with lighter winds to the east. Our mid-pack group, several of whom had been slipping away, are far enough downstream that they'll get a windshift while they're still in the wind. So I decided to gybe south toward the stronger breezes, likely for a day, then to gybe back for the next ice gate, hopefully in stronger wind.

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  • Dec
    06

    Surge Stress

    At 1510 utc today, at 40 deg 20 min S and 01 deg 05 min E, 297.5 miles covered in past 24 hours, Great American III passed north of a point of the first ice gate. We are with gray overcast skies, periodic rain, 25-30 knots of wind, and making 12 knots with solent and two reefs in the main. The pilot is doing a good job. The barometer is rising slightly as the very steady weather pattern of the last several days--being sandwiched between a moving low to the south, and the South Atlantic high to the north--is changing finally.

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  • Dec
    05

    Out on a Limb and Beyond

    38/36N 5/21W, staysail, 3 reefs, 12 kts, surges to 22 kts, 301.6 miles in last 24 hours. Had two exciting experiences in the last 24 hours. Last night, at 0230z, with staysail and 2 reefs, hitting 22 knots (fast for this boat and very fast for this skipper!), with no exact end of high-speeds in sight, I decided to go to 3rd reef. Broad reaching, trying to do more quickly than my usual methodical self (pull in each line a meter at a time so that everything--and I mean EVERYTHING--stays organized).

    Well, I ended up with a mess of lines up against the mast, spreaders, and rigging.

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  • Dec
    04

    Delicious Sleep

    1400z, 36/45S 11/18 W, 296.2 nautical miles sailed in last 24 hours, 11.9 kts, surges to 20, staysail and 2 reefs in the main, 25-30kts wind, clear skies. Trying to hover between the edge of the high and the strong gradient, to get less of the strong winds. Have hanked on storm jib (clipped the sail onto the forward stay) in anticipation. Building seas, albatross around at a distance.

    Map of Tristan de CunhaPassed to north of Tristan de Cunha group of islands.

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  • Dec
    03

    Good Vibrations?

    Received new coordinates for Kerguelen ice gate.

    Last night had a development. Normally, at 12+ knots, we have a low hum in the keel. At about midnight, suddenly there was a new sound, a very high pitched vibration, very loud, coming also from the keel. Rapid inspection of bulkheads, plus the two huge stainless steel pieces that hold the keel hinge, plus inspection inside the keel compartment, both visual and manual, feeling for cracks, or anything unusual, showed nothing.

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  • Dec
    02

    Blessed Sleep!

    Reacher and full main, trimming corner of the S. Atlantic high. After the doldrums, I figured that things would revert to normal (since the doldrums are so abnormal and unpredictable). Since I wasn’t at the front of the pack and forced to go straight south, we eased over to the east a little, so that if the high moved, perhaps we could cut the corner. So far it looks as though this tactic might work, although I have one eye on the computer screen and the other on the barograph looking for any small move upward in air pressure.

    The low to the west will slowly impact the area, the pressure lines on the grib files show it should be declining for us, and it is, slowly.

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  • Dec
    01

    A Physics Problem

    The boat goes well and the skipper also. The boat structure has a wave-focusing physic into the cabin, when the bow pounds down, the cabin, after a slighly delay, sledgehammers up. This is what re-opened the rib problem a week ago, and did so again last night. Standing in the cabin watching the instruments, braced in every direction, the boat leapt off a wave and pounded down up forward. 1/2 second later, a sledgehammer shot was applied upward through my feet and skeleton, and I could actually feel the rib healing area tearing again.

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