Tuesday, December 22, 2015

RORC Transatlantic Race Update III

Grenada's Port Louis harbor (Port Louis, Grenada)- Grenada is one of the most spectacular islands in the Caribbean and is called the “Spice Island” for good reason; cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg, chili and cloves are very much part of the economy. Grenada is just 21 miles long and 12 miles wide and has 40 beaches with sugar-like sand. Virtually half of the island is verdant tropical forest, rising up to nearly 3,000ft with spectacular vistas and enchanting waterfalls. The scenery both on land and at sea is absolutely stunning.

It’s not surprising that sailors have taken the “discovery route” from Europe, down through the Canary Islands, and powered by the steady trade winds on the south/ southwest course down to “the Windwards” in the Caribbean island chain.  Grenada has so many sun-kissed white sand beaches with blue water so crystal clear that boat hulls cast shadows upon the ocean floor - perfect for resting for your aching bones after an exhilarating hike around a tropical volcanic crater lake, or a long trans-Atlantic sail!

Still working their way to the finish line is the J/120 NUNATAK sailed by Elin Haf Davies and Chris Frost from the United Kingdom.  They’ve had their fair share of thrills and quieter moments.  Here are their latest reports, always entertaining and insightful:

J/120 Nunatak- Elin Haf Davies and Chris Frost“December 11th
Well it’s been a funny old time here. Wind is just ever so slightly too high for us to be able to fly our kites safely (especially in pitch black nights). We’re therefore going dead down wind just on black sails, and seem to be ticking off the miles okay. Less than a 1,000 miles to go ...

We’re down to sharing one cup of coffee between us at morning and night.

In other random news, last night while on watch, I was admiring the stars when an UFO certainly appeared, and started circling around us. It stayed with us for ages, with bright colours of red, green and white. Petrified I was about to call on Chris (thinking he might have to rescue me from being abducted by aliens), the UFO promptly disappeared again, and the only thing left in the night’s sky was the boat’s windex and tricolour ...

Yes. I think that cabin fever might be setting in!

December 13th
Sorry for no blog update yesterday, we were kidnapped by aliens and had to enter difficult negotiations for our release.

At the same time our comms stopped working, and took some time to re-set – thanks to Roger.

Day 13 at sea was a challenging one for us with nothing quite going right. As night came we got the twist in our A2, and dropped her for an A4. I think I’ve said before, but helming in this pitch black where you can really see nothing is a nightmare. Soon after a squall came and we had to go for a quick drop. Sadly our drop line had dropped under the pole so it wouldn’t work. We had to revert to using the lazy sheet to get her down, which was a mammoth effort. After that we decided to revert to just a conservative sail plan of just black sails over night. Not ideal, but allowed us both to get some good sleep in.

There’s so much seaweed in the ocean now that we must be getting close to land. Seen quiet a few other yachts, and had a chat with a couple.

Been pondering a lot on whether flying fish breath in and/or our of the water? Anyone know?

Other than that, all is going well. We’re both really struggling to cope with the heat– me in particular. Celtic blood was not designed for such climates, that’s for sure.

Off to do some needlework repair, which I’m sure will make my mother proud.

December 14th
We hear that all the other boats are now in! A huge congrats to all, I hope that you enjoy much deserved land celebrations– but please do save some rum for us!

Even accounting for boat size/ design/ crew size it’s fair to say that both of us are a little bit disappointed that we are last boat to finish by sooo many miles. Having said that our objective for this race was always about just getting across, and getting the experience for future campaigns – which has been just perfect. We now expect to be in by the 17th and our prize will be getting there in time to party at prize-giving night as Louay has promised that he’ll buy all the drinks!

Our other objective was to raise much needed awareness about our nominated charity, Findacure (http://www.findacure.org.uk). As mentioned before Findacure work to support patients with rare diseases, and to facilitate drug re-purposing as a way of discovering cures in an affordable way. There are nearly 7,000 rare diseases, but currently there are only 103 drugs authorized to treat them in Europe, and only 37% of which are being reimbursed by all health care agencies. The approach used by Findacure is instrumental to finding affordable treatments. Please support them!

December 15th
Well, our adventure continues as we search for favourable winds that will take us to Grenada. We’re struggling to make the progress that we would like, which is frustrating. But I remind myself that compared to the 77 days 7 hours 37 minutes it took me to row across the Atlantic our current pace is super speedy. I came in last in that race too, and as I keep telling Chris, someone always has to come last.

To pass away the time yesterday we played ‘hangman’. After much initial confusion about the exact rules of the game and whether we were playing in English or Welsh we had quiet a giggle for about 5 minutes before deciding that it probably wasn’t the game for us after all.

To celebrate reaching the 500-mile mark we opened a chilled bottle of Spanish sparkling water. Lush it was too. And, of course, no major celebration would be complete without a bag of Haribo sweets! Yesterday we had the Frenzy Edition! Living on the edge that we are.

P.S FOR SALE- six tins of Spanish meatballs– still in original packaging - open to offers! Haha!

December 16th
Shame wind has died to slow our final approach but what a great sail Elin and I have had so far.  We have seen wind from 0 to 38 knots, lost count of the number of spinnaker peels and gybes we have done. Thank goodness for the easy-to-gybe asymmetric spinnaker!

Almost everything has gone to plan and Elin and I are still talking (just). I have lost count of the number of times I have woken thinking we have sailed into a fog bank with a symphony of fog horns only to realize it is Elin singing along to her iTunes.

Oh bollocks!  As I type, a big bang as the second spinnaker halyard block explodes.  Damn.  Kite down.  Rapid repack.  Hoist this time on the jib halyard.  Will have to go up later to run a second halyard.

I have to congratulate Elin on bringing the dog food meatballs which have made the freeze dried food seem simply divine!

Dwi yn hoffi hoylio efo Elin…”

As you read this, it’s likely that NUNATAK will have finished.  Congratulations to Elin and Chris on the TransAtlantic Race adventure and their entertaining blogs!  For more RORC Transatlantic Race sailing information