During the Arc, we had little comms so we blogged only on the ARC site and neglected the web. This is an attempt to catch up on the race:
Another day spent in the blue desert….
It sounds strenuous but every day is different out here, from the weather conditions to the occasional fauna, day after day the ocean has something special to offer.
We have been stuck in a doldrum for about 5 days now but today Poseidon decided that it was time for us to move on and granted us a beautiful 10/15 knots with beautiful sea conditions. We jumped on the occasion, trimmed our big blue kite and here we go again, cruising to our average 9 to 10 knots.
From the rare (or almost non-existent) knock on our fishing rod, another chafing line or the wind getting weaker or stronger, your feelings and emotions are variables of this blue infinite environment. Our compulsory 3 hours every night under this deep and vast set of millions of stars gives us plenty of time to reflect on our day and realise how lucky and blessed we are to just be here.
But let’s be serious for a moment.
Our stock of food is getting low, our creamy full milk bottles had to be mixed with crappy water maker liquid, the usual cereal bowl in the morning had to be cut down to a simple mug and worst of the worst, there’s only 6 beers left….
It takes a lot of mental strength to be able to deal with it, some crew members have already lost it and at night when it is pitch black will spend 5 minutes trying to convince you that there is this imaginary starboard light shining under the left cloud under the boom. Not to worry too much as a good 5 hours of sleep gives them time to recover and be ‘normal’ again the next day.
Predict Wind has become our new BBC daily news live broadcasting. That last comet we’ve all seen last night could have been another missile sent from South Korea to the U.S.?? Who knows but one thing for sure is that on the map it is yellowish down south which is very good news !!
I won’t write too much more as the more I do the more kilobits or littlebits or whatever you call them is added to this post giving Iridium a beautiful income and our Captain a sad invoice.
There is a couple of miles to go and we are all keen for that first step on St Lucia but one thing for sure is that a trans-Atlantic is not something you do every day and that the most important thing to keep in mind is this amazing experience we are all in right now.
Best regards from ‘Gust of Wind’ and its crew.
I would love to be able to tell you that the past couple days have been so busy that we have not had a chance to be able to sit down and give you an update, it would seem that procrastination is very much alive and kicking.
So, coming back to you, ever so slightly (48 hours) delayed, let’s get you up to speed with the on goings on board GUST OF WIND.
To be fair it’s been a challenging and ever so slightly tormenting couple of days. We have had spells of fantastic sailing, with the wind and sea playing ball and herding us to our destination. As I type this we have the wind right up our…. Stern… cruising in a very favourable heading towards Saint Lucia.
The atmosphere aboard is calm and collected, with an undercurrent of heightened anticipation and excitement. With each person pretending not to have any faith in superstition, the latest antics of shaving half a beard off, for “Fresh wind on the cheek” and how many times can we change a sail in 30 minutes are telling a different story but we will go into more detail about these topics in a bit.
As it stands yesterday, we made some good distance in not much wind at all… please cross fingers and pray that we get some good fortune when it comes to some good wind/sea/weather tomorrow!! We had a bit of a meteorological welcoming to the Caribbean yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. We were greeted by a “tropical” squall. The wind picked up as we sailed straight into a waterfall like downpour. After bagging the spinnaker and changing sails and and and….. a couple of the crew found this downpour the perfect time to neglect all responsibilities and make lunch, whilst others – task focussed and hardworking realised the opportunity to capitalise on time saving and shower out on deck during the face stinging, heavens opening downpour! It was properly warm and humid, which made the rain an incredibly invigorating and welcomed change – was great getting a proper long shower, outside, in mother nature - just by the way.
The evening shifts have taken quite the change of late. No more are our firework displays or jaw dropping sky’s set alit by the Milky Way. The Stars have been banished by what would appear as an ever-growing glow, equally as breath-taking. The Moon seems to be feeling left out. Its currently a colossal ball of glowing hope and it overpowers the sky’s. The need for head torches and any other form of assisted light is now null and void. If anything we have been maximising our tans during the nights… its far too warm for tops/t-shirts/shirts – we pretty much live in board shorts at this point. The continuous onslaught of Kamikaze flying fish claimed its first victim last night, Sam Hardy took a stellar blow to the shoulder whilst at the helm. No one onboard has ever seen so many of these, now nuisance like fish. There literally has been no signs of life other that these suicidal creatures. Personally I am not of the belief that there is much intelligence within these strangely intriguing yet equally annoying little fella’s.
We have had some interesting developments onboard, the Watt&Sea hydro power generator magically made itself a “useless piece of crap” by relieving itself of its propeller blades.
JNR Du Toit gave the Retired Olive Farmer SNR Du Toit a 101 lesson (arsekicking) in how to cook a stew.
A couple nights ago we had a fantastic braai, cooked by Lord Hardy – lambchops and chicken wings YUM!!
Today for the first time in 2 weeks we crossed paths with another vessel in the race, as they disappeared behind us and off into the distance (they are a race boat – getting a hiding by GOW).
With the end growing ever so close, for a lot of us onboard this sees our 1st of many crossings winding up. We expect to start seeing boats tomorrow, as the 240 vessels in the race start funnelling towards and into the Caribbean and Saint Lucia. This truly has been a magical experience and one that I’m sure we will be talking about for a long time to come.
Bets have been placed and are in a sealed envelope, as each crew member had to enter a day and time of arrival in Saint Lucia crossing the finish line, results will be made public knowledge as soon as we cross that ever so nearing line!
On a separate note… Keep your eyes peeled for the Gust Of Wind, The ARC 2017 movie and series, coming soon. Rumour has it producer Justin Anley is working on the final touches before the release of the first couple of episodes.
Anyway, we currently have 300 miles to go and I am on watch in a couple hours, so its time to catch 45 winks, Keep watching this space.
From all on GUST OF WIND, we would like to take a moment to thank you all for your ongoing support and to our families and loved ones that are so supportive and understanding – Thank you!
From all onboard, Good night and sweet dreams!
Match Racing to the end
The last 24 hours saw some challenging and exhilarating sailing. Rain squalls with accompanying winds of 30 to 40 knots. Flying just the spinnaker, we would accelerate quickly as the gusts hit us. At one point we had a top speed of 24 knots (Can’t say exactly as the wind speed meter had been blown off the mast, sustained for 20 to 30 seconds, with the spray coming off the bows like a powerboat.) This was followed by periods of very light winds. Shortly after sunrise we had dolphins on the bow again.
Since a few days into the start of the race, we hadn’t seen another boat and then out of the darkness a few days ago loomed Celeste of Solent, a far 65. Each of us sailing our own race, our paths would cross as we both went in different directions only for us to reconnect every day or so, we were so closely matched. So, it was no surprise on our arrival day, at sunrise, there was Celest of Solent just off our bows. They tacked deciding to go for speed but having to cover a greater distance, while we goose winged both the Spinnaker and our code zero and gambled on the direct course. Just a few miles before the finish, there once again appeared Celeste of Solent off our Starboard. Sadly, for them, under the pressure of competition, they blew out their spinnaker giving us the break we needed. Nevertheless, we still had a close race on our hands as the big monohull typically beats harder and faster than a multihull and the last mile or so was a beat to the finish. The crew on Gust of Wind came together like a well-oiled team. We dropped the spinnaker, raised the main, unfurled the code zero and dropped the dagger boards in a matter of seconds. Then beat up to the finish line only to get a wind shift forcing us to foil the code zero while unfurling the solent to allow us to beat harder, all the while knowing that Celeste of Solent was minutes behind us and would quickly take advantage of any mistakes we made. No chance of that. Over the finish line and on to the marina to be welcomed with a large glass of rum punch and the Caribbean reggae music and laid-back lifestyle of the locals offering us anything we wanted and some more! I had forgotten the exhilaration of match racing. Such an exciting end to an amazing race. Meeting up with the crew of Celeste of Solent at the marina demonstrated the comradery and spirit that the arc is known for. A great bunch of guys (and a few gals) from Sweden.
. Officially we came 3rd in multihulls and 7th overall. The decision to start on the Northerly route, although tough sailing did prove to be the right decision as many of the Southerly boats still not having arrived.
The welcoming party for the ARC that night quickly moved from the official event to Gust of Wind. Funny, that’s happened a few nights.
Bruce has left this morning on his long trip home. We all learnt much from each other (and not just sailing)
We have been here at Rodney Bay for a few days. The bars have recorded record sales. The marina is great and meeting the others from the arc has been fun. The atmosphere is jovial and celebratory as the new boats are arriving thick and fast.Hopefully we will run into many of them over the next couple of months in the Caribbean. But its now time to move again and so tomorrow we move on to find a peaceful anchorage and hopefully some diving (amongst more rum punch) (PS its 80 %)
Deep into the Atlantic, Gust of Wind is still in a solid 3rd position in the Multihull Class and 6th overall. This despite very trying conditions, 5-12 knots of unstable East winds bouncing from NE to SE. Today we made the most of the conditions as we gybed to starboard, steering from the lee helm in the shade of the huge asymmetric spinnaker and steering 280 degrees magnetic, a ball hair above St.Luca, about 1250 miles away.
Our Half Way party was at lunch time, with a celebratory bottle of champagne, an insane Big Sam Salad of fresh tuna, 2 hours old, and finely chopped salads, very cerviche like but with some sweet mango, fresh bread from our resident ex-Drug Dealing Baker and fruit for desert. The good life!!! Yip, after dragging 3 lures over 1300 miles we struck gold with a beautiful 18kg fish. Steaks for dinner tomorrow.
Life onboard is not monotonous at all as is generally the accepted norm on an ocean crossing. Way different on this trip as every day or so we are pressganged into a new Watch Keeping System, more complicated than the last. It has dawned on me that the architect of the system, the ex-Drug Dealing Baker somehow fails to put himself into the roster for any night watches. Homo Verticales with bedsores!!!! I have just got started on the book, SAPIENS, so feel quite qualified to write about the various Homos, from Erectus (quite prevalent onboard) to Horizontalus to Creolum.
Today was typical for me:
Wake up early for Dawn Patrol and a stunning sunrise at 6.30am. We are now 2 hrs closer to St.Lucia, time-wise that is. 2 more hours to change as we charge west. Every 15 degrees of west is One Hour of time to change. St.Lucia is 4 hours different from Las Palmas.
Dawn shows how dirty the cockpit is, spilt coffee, nooks filled with pubes, ash from the handrolled oreganum fags (boys have long since run out of tobacco), biscuit crumbs and general male detritus. 10 minute Ball hair Patrol and all sorted and clean.
Stroll around the deck to clear dead flying fish and check for chafe on all ropes, sheets and sails. Onboard Gust of Wind our motto is “Make Chafe your Friend”
Munch down some muesli, followed by a mug of rooibos (keeps one regular) and then wake up the crew who are all still fast asleep. For sure I got shafted again on the Watch Keeping Roster!!
Any defects or broken gear is noted in the Log Book during the night watch and then attended to during the day, weather permitting or course. Safety First is number one. Todays Big Work Party consisted of:
- Repair Helm Seats / they are getting used more than the sails!!!
- Port Fresh Water Pump / new gasket required
- Recycling Day / Transfer to RIB storage area for Bio Waste
- Change dressings on bed sores of Homo Horizontalus
“Container J” managed to reprogramme his drone and has been using it to scare the hell out of the local flying fish population, psyche dive bombing them. We then place bets on the number of flying fish that will actually defy gravity for those brief moments of airtime and fly. A range of bets are on offer from longest, highest, best tricks, total number airborne and the Big Mama bet at 100 to 1 is Mid Air Collision. J is gonna be a very unhappy puppy when drone and fish collide. Our first Arbitration session is later this afternoon to try and agree on how to actually score in this new game we call “Drone Strike Psyche’’.
Lie Dice session at Happy Hour really exposes the true colours. I never realised that a Pensioned Off Olive Farmer could lie with a straight face while stealing a nip of your whisky. No manners out in the country. As farmers are more under threat than ever they clearly resort to all manner of tricks and thuggery to get by on a day to day basis.
Sun is down, slippers and dressing gown are on, teeth brushed so to bed with SAPIENS.
Aloha from Gust of Wind, wherever you are
Following the events of the previous couple days, we have been graced with a spell of good fortune.
Saturday evening saw the seas settle and the wind find its happy medium, which meant for a pleasant and easy evening of rest and shifts throughout the night.
Whilst we sat enjoying a good catch up over the events of the previous day or two, an unexpected squall snuck up on us out of nowhere. The trio on watch saw the perfect opportunity to take advantage and break the top speed to date, reaching 22 knots. Although short-lived this was an additional cherry on the cake; an added accomplishment, another silver lining in what had been a challenging yet rewarding part of our adventure.
The evening shifts were graced by the Milky Way and its almost firework display of shooting stars, that left one in disbelief. With not a soul or vessel in sight and the tiniest slither of a moon glistening off the mirror like ocean, we trundled our way onwards leaving the 55 knots of wind and 6 meter swells well behind us, without the aid of any wind instruments and a spring in our step.
The early hours of the morning revealed a spectacular sunrise. With the rays wrestling their way through the clouds on the horizon, the most breath-taking day revealed itself.
We had a very pleasant morning sailing, reaching 8 – 13 knots on an idyllic heading, one we could only have wished for. Very quickly the heat hit us and the wind started to drop giving us the prime opportunity to get the drone up and in the air.
Justin managed some jaw dropping footage at sunrise, with his drone (photos and videos will be uploaded to the Gust of Wind Instagram account and associated FB accounts). Attached is one of the images that should help paint the picture of what our day ahead looked like.
We had a gorgeous day, catching up on a few jobs and odds and ends, some housekeeping and some time to catch a couple extra Z’s.
Breakfast was a treat to behold; a big, full fry up. Bacon, eggs, sausage, toast coffee and orange juice. Everyone took their time, savouring each mouthful, breakfast ended at what should’ve been lunch.
Although we had a LEKKER day, we have now been racing for 7 days and are rapidly approaching the halfway point (should’ve been there already – the storm held us up ever so slightly).
Excluding the Kamakazi flying fish, we have yet to catch a fish. All in all, to be fair, there has been a lack of life so far. On occasions, we have had some dolphins and the odd bird or two, over and above the small schools (Flocking school?) of flying fish that arrived in the last day or so. So that’s day 7 Mombak! We are keeping positive and are hoping that, now, we are entering the trade winds and currents, that we might finally see some life, be it another boat or wildlife. Come to think of it we have not seen any other competitor vessels in the past few days – time is flying so exactitudes are not applicable when it comes to time at this point.
The afternoon found us sitting enjoying a good laugh over a game of Piccalo and cards.
With 1500 miles to go, there is a great atmosphere onboard and some phenomenal memories being made, along with new friendships being built.
From all on board Gust Of Wind, Good night!