Rolex Transatlantic – Day 4

May 25, 2005   

Gone are the light and medium winds and the spinnaker flying we are in an area of 20-30 knot southerlies east of our entry into the Gulf Stream with gusts to 40 knots. The waves have built quickly to ten feet, with breaking tops and blown spray. The boat heels over to 25 degrees making every movement slow and difficult. We reef as the wind builds and change down to heavier smaller jibs. Two or three hours into the stronger winds and we are down to – no mizzen, a double-reefed main and a storm jib – sailing more upright and at 9-10 knots. We are again leading on handicap and have changed to 3-hour watches.In late afternoon the low sun came out behind us as we charged ahead. The spray flying from our bow reflected back miniature rainbows, and we sailed in a magical tunnel of momentary color – quite beautiful.Life below has become messy things are getting lost, wet foul weather gear and clothes make everything damp. It is slow and awkward to move food, bedding, and equipment around. It will get better when we have a lull and therefore a chance to clean up. Yesterday ended with a severed spinnaker halyard stuck half in the mast and the other one jammed. A combination of judicious jiggling by several people and the day's slamming speed allowed the bike chain and halyard to be pulled out and freed the other one which is still up the rig.While other boats in this race eat freeze-dried food our meals would do a fine restaurant proud – the boat weighs 55 tons so the added weight of real food is not considered too much of a handicap. Dinners have been beef tenderloin stew, chicken breasts stuffed with artichoke hearts, pasta primavera with hot sausage, and tonight's beef tenderloin with potatoes gratin.  The weather analysis predicts another two days of this fast sailing. We have cut through a meander of the Gulf Stream but will reenter it on Thursday again increasing our speed over ground. Lessons learnt:

  • Using bike chain works great to mouse halyards especially at the dock however, it should be electrical shrink wrapped so as to keep it straight and not allow it to kink and possibly wrap around spreader bars in the rig.

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