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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
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Rudders and Birds

  • Nov
    19

    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. I think that airplane radars may be setting it off. At any rate, it is hard to sleep with the alarm going off and you have to go on deck to look for ship lights.

    This afternoon I finally lowered the reacher and hoisted the big genaker. I targeted a full-on effort to do the swap in 30 minutes. Made it to the minute. Part of my fatigue through midday was also that in gybing this morning several times, the last one had a sheet go over the side and get jammed in the windward port rudder, between the blade and the cassette that holds it. This was difficult to resolve. As Francis Stokes once said, "the sea finds out everything you did wrong", and I made a mistake in letting the extra sheet go over the side, then to catch up on the rudder.

    The rudders are supposed to kick up out of the water if they hit something hard enough, but the rudders on this boat don't come out of the water all the way. So after the sheet hit the rudder, it only came out part of the way. A rudder that is partially out of the water is a bad situation, because if it gets hit by a wave from the side, it could break. I knew I had to get the rudder out of the water as quickly as I could.

    I put a line on the rudder and hoisted it clear of the water. Then I hung out over the stern with the boat going about 10 knots, and I pulled on the line until I was able to work it free. Going downwind as we were, the boat can use the effect of both rudders, so we were lucky not to have a wipeout or gybe.

    A bird came aboard late afternoon. I took a short video and will send it in. It's never a good sign, either the bird is sick, or injured, or old, if they can't just fly along at sea, and need a lift. Hopefully, we'll get to within 20 miles of the first Cape Verdean islands, and he'll go, to try to get to land. He's beautfiul, white, preening, and when I go to the cockpit (he's standing on the stern now), he'll fly to the masthead and stand up there, hopefully taking care with our instruments.

    Had a Radio Vacation today with Vendee Globe headquarters at Gare Montparnasse, and this time we had several others on the line, not skippers, but Dr. Richard Lapchick, from Northeastern University who has been very creative in using sports for beneficial means for students. He was joined by the Cultural Affairs office of the US Embassy in Paris. He is visiting for a big EU meeting on sports. So a good round day it was.

    Had a cockpit shower late in the afternoon. That was very refreshing, as its getting hot, and the sail changes are very strenuous.

    A demain.