Archive for February, 2011

White-sail Reaching Through The Trench

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February 28, 2011 posted by admin

11:30am Monday February 28, 2011

Just got off the phone with Diane. She has about 65nm to go to get through the trench. She is very tired due to the confined sailing and lots of shipping traffic. She hailed a freighter last night and chatted with them for, what sounds like, a loooooong time. She now has a freighter full of fans.

She is taking it easy and white sail reaching as she isn’t racing and needs to preserve the gear and sails. It’s blowing 20kts and the waves are pretty steep. This is probably due to a whole lot of the Atlantic trying to squeeze between the Bahama Bank and Cuba helped along by a winter trade wind.

Speaking of, the weather update is that the wind will ease off and lift (vear) as she heads north after the ditch. She had her second cockpit shower today. But somehow she’s looking forward to a real shower in Miami.

TIm again: looking at Spot Tracker for the latest position report showing some boat maneuvers to avoid freighters, cruise ships and shallows of the Bahama Bank & Cuba. Diane’s back into SailFlow’s forecast area.

11pm Monday Night: the “chart” updated at 10:51pm showing Diane 150nm from finishing at the Miami sea buoy.

View 1,000 Mile Qualifying Run – February 2011 in a larger map

25 Knots Into The Night

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February 28, 2011 posted by admin

Evening Sunday February 27, 2011

Paul advises: Diane checked in at 5:15pm and reports that it is blowing 25kts from the east. She is averaging 10kts of speed right now and has seen 18kts surfing down waves. The thought of putting up the kite early today did cross her mind but she realized that it wasn’t worth the work and the risk.

Last night was a lot of work and once again the the drogue was deployed so that Diane could get some much needed rest. The batteries are full up and the autopilot has been doing a great job in the big seas and heavy breeze.

Her 5:15pm position is 67 miles from what she is calling the narrow part. Diane has plugged in way points to help keep her in the middle because she is saying that this section is only 15 miles wide. There will be lots of hand steering through the night in order to conserve power.

It has been very hard getting any sat signal today and she has been very busy with two reefs in the sails and a winch that had to be tightened up from all the use that it has had.

This pretty much ends the broad cast for today. Diane still sounds fine but is definitely tired.

Oh What A Night – The Sea-Squall

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February 27, 2011 posted by admin

Noon Sunday February 27, 2011

Don’t know there was a squall, but couldn’t resist the pun on Oscar night. Just off the blower with Paul. Diane telephoned earlier in the day. A second rough night. After screaming along under white sails she decided it was time to heave to before the broach (wipe out). The drogue got another work out too.

Two consecutive nights of building the cache of stories and experience to share with W.♀.W. (Women On the Water). Lori Mason of The Store Mason’s hosts events for WOW and has also put a treasure trove of the right gear on the boat. Diane was lovin’ the safety gear, the past couple of nights especially. Thanks Lori! as well Diane is looking forward to her next talk with the WOW women.

Despite the elements, our tenacious Diane has made considerable progress on the leg to Cay Lobos. The 12:05pm fix putting her 126nm out. Batteries are OK. Making progress while making time to look after herself.

Oh What A Night

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February 26, 2011 posted by admin

Saturday February 26, 2011

The 10am update: Diane deployed her drogue last night due to very depleted batteries and being too tired to hand steer. She had just enough battery to run the autohelm while she deployed. She picked the spot as it provided a lot of sea room while she slept and he hadn’t seen any traffic in a long while. She didn’t know if she would have such condition when she got closer to Inagua.

Everything is fine. The batteries indicate fully charged (she thinks they’re lying because when a load is on them, they show less of a charge). She’s fully charged and ready to go again. And yes, she had all her alarms on while she slept.

Friday evening Paul reported & Tim is finally blogging: Diane checked in at 5:43pm and didn’t really have much to add other than that she is getting really tired of sailing into the wind and is hoping to use the kite for all of the next leg. 15hrs and 90 nm is the distance to the next turn. The battery issues seems to be resolved for now and they are charging.

Rather then get splashed from another wave it’s time to put her jacket back on which is tricky while hand steering and talking on the sat-phone. She’s says goodbye for now and may check in later. She need’s to make dinner and stow gear before it gets dark.

Saturday afternoon, Spot Tracker is showing a last update from 11am this morning. Expect either it wants to be fed some fresh batteries (it is not connected to the ship’s batteries), or as it automatically turns off after 24 hours, Diane may need to re-turn it on.

The tracker shows her turning at Inagua and heading north west about 3:22pm Saturday.

Chutes, Batteries & Waves

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February 25, 2011 posted by admin

Friday February 25, 2011

Today’s update came in 3 installments between 10:30am and 2pm.

First call: Diane was reefed in really nasty chop. Multiple wave trains with no backs on them. She was debating shaking out reef as wind was easing and needed power. Lost connection before the chance to fully discuss her being reefed in the first place.

Second call: full main and going through the chop much better due to the extra power. Main battery flat. Didn’t take a charge yesterday at all. Hand steering for now, trying to charge in lots of sunshine.

Third call (much later). Ran full diagnostics on battery and electrical system including phyisycally moving batteries around. Each battery and charging source is on it’s own dedicated controller. It looks like the main solar panel on stern, that got the nickname The spoiler on the Bermuda race last summer, may be dead. Not to worry as Diane has reconfigured with the other panels. She’s running on second battery now and monitoring to see if the first battery is charging.

She is very excited now as that problem seems to be solved for now at least. AND! Diane saw and gammed with her first sail boat since the run began. The skipper was taking her south, he didn’t consider their current location south. He had no destination in mind other than south. They chatted for quite a while on the VHF. Diane gets so excited by these things.

At about 2pm, conditions were wind E 12kts true, steering 200, lots of sunshine, 1019.6mb. The forecast will see Diane in mostly 15’s all the way down to Inagua with the odd bit above and below that.

There was a debated whether she should go east or west of Plana Cays. She was currently sailing to pass to the west of it, which is faster, but sailing higher will give her a faster angle after she passes it, though at the cost of short term speed.

Waves are much better since passing Samana Cays. We about the chop and the likelihood of it being a combination of reflected waves and the bottom coming up really fast. Diane said the whole trip has been pretty much like sailing in a washing machine. There as so many banks and shoals that the rollers coming from deep ocean get all piled up around the islands. Diane almost puked on the first night through the northwest passage.

Tim again. Funny how some details take a few days to get passed along. As always, there is Spot Tracker for Diane’s latest location. At 6:18am Saturday morning, just 24nm from Great Inagua Island Lighthouse and the start of the next leg.

Passed Waypoint 2 – Heading South on Leg 3

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February 25, 2011 posted by admin

Thursday Evening, February 24, 2011

Shore crew extraordinaire Paul reports: Just off the phone with Diane. At 5:42pm she was 7 miles from Waypoint “2”, the turn to head south. Diane is sooooo glad that she’s done heading east. Once she makes the turn it’s kite up and hold on! This will be fun.

Presently she is footing in 11kts of breeze and doing about 6kts while hand steering. There has been cloud cover all day. Two reasons for hand steering. First is to conserve battery power. One battery is 50% and the other is full up. Second reason is that there has been lots of swells today and light breeze so it’s been a little hard with the auto pilot.

The plan is to hand steer through the night and keep the kite up until the breeze becomes to much to handle. She is predicting that the wind will pickup to around 20kts tonight.

Today was a nice day and fairly uneventful. Only two freighters were seen today and they were so far off there was no need to deploy the motor. What she did see was all kinds of trash. Tons of it, from bags and containers to plastic chairs and tables. What a shame.

TIm interjects: at 12:43pm Diane left me sentence before he satellites went over the horizon: Awesome night sail last night in the dark, lots of starts and phosphorescence and the boat just screaming along like a rocket-ship doing a nice 10kts.

Paul continues: Diane’s spirits are still high and maybe more so when she makes her turn. She sends a big hi out to all hers friends and fans and hopes you are enjoying her adventure. Speaking of friends Diane would like send the last tack & an upcoming jibe out to Brian and Tristan of UK Halsey who set her up with a sail repair backpack. All the right supplies, that came in handy on the becalmed day when she needed to fix a couple of small tears in the sail inventory.

Thats all for now. Diane needs to get a meal in before the turn and get everything ready for the spinnaker to go up.

The Breeze Is Back

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February 24, 2011 posted by admin

7pm Wednesday February 23, 2011

Paul provides this evening’s update:

About 4pm the breeze filled in at about 8kts from the north east and Diane was able to put the sails up and get moving again at 3kts in the right direction.

It’s been a very quiet day with no real excitement except for the little fishies. For most of the day while drifting along there has been 5 fish approximately 12″ (30cm) long that have been hiding in the shadow of OGOC like she is their mother ship. They seem to love Cheerios and at one point a flying fish came along and they chased it away. Diane will throw a handful of cereal off the boat and the fish go mad. But after a little bit when they realize that the mother ship is drifting away they leave the food bits and run for the shadow of the hull.

It has been a very nice sunny day and Diane’s new hat that was given to her by Tilley Endurables has been a huge asset in keeping her head cool and protecting her from the glare off the water.

There really isn’t much more to say about today. It’s just been quiet and now it’s time to get back to sailing.

What’s that Paul? Make way when the wind is blowing? Wise words.

Checking in with Spot Tracker, Diane has indeed been making distance since the wind came back. 14.5 nautical miles between 4pm & 8pm fixes.

Becalmed & Rejoining the Human Race

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February 23, 2011 posted by admin

Noon Wednesday February 23, 2011

Sailing partner Nick provides considerable insight with today’s update:

Just got of the phone with her majesty. Long call in three installments due to not enough satellites to support a conversation with Diane. What can I say, the girl likes to talk and talk and… talk. Last summer, she wouldn’t shut up the whole way to Bermuda!

Anywaaay, she’s bobbing around in just about no wind whatsoever east of the Bahamas. True wind speed is showing 3kts. She thinks the electronics may be a tad optimistic. The wind direction is doing circles. She tried moving the stack to leeward to exactly zero effect. She’s working on a system to improve the stacking system as she ran out of room on one side of the boat.

Now Diane is not one to sit around with nothing to do so she has been quite busy.

She started the day with a complete salt water shower. She said she had no trouble getting her soap and shampoo to lather which I found surprising since I’ve heard that this is a problem in salt water. She said that felt fantastic! Welcome back to the human race, Diane!

Breakfast featured some of her daily ration of chocolate. For those who don’t know already, team OGOC has chocolate… issues.

She mounted and tried the outboard today. This was important for a couple of reasons. Earlier in the trip, it had got swamped so she needed to determine that it worked and would work should she need it. She wanted to know that in the light air, without steerage way, she could get out of the way of shipping. She said if that had to be done, she could hit the MOB button on the GPS, motor out of the way and return to the exact spot and shut off the motor. In this way she would not compromise this qualifying run.

She has switched on all the alarms and has had plenty of sleep. At one point, she said she woke up to the alarms to find herself staring at the port and starboard lights of a ship with its horn going. Ship’s horns are seriously LOUD! Fortunately, she had wind at that time and simply tacked out of the way.

She has been using my sextant to take sun sights as this is a requirement for the qualifier as well. She’s had some trouble since it is so bright and sunny that the sea is exactly the same colour as the sky. This makes it hard to find the horizon in the sextant telescope. This problem is made worse because, while she was careful to pack her glasses case, she found that it was… empty?!?! She has used the telescope in backwards to sharpen images. I’m continually impressed with how resourceful and inventive she is under pressure.

She’s also playing with the calibration of the ST60 instruments & autohelm. She says they are misaligned by about 10°.

She reports that the weather forecast has been dead accurate…
you’re welcome!

Tim again: Diane’s latest fix is available from Spot Tracker, a forecast from SailFlow and the increasingly familiar Google Charts with Diane’s position as of 3:15pm today. 110 nautical miles from waypoint “2” not much changed from yesterday’s 4pm fix of 112nm when Diane was becalmed.

The Wind Died – Catching up on a Few Chores

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February 23, 2011 posted by admin

6pm Tuesday February 22, 2011

Paul writes: just off the phone with Diane and here is the afternoon update:

Diane has had a good and uneventful day. It was around 2:30pm when the breeze started to ease and 4pm when it dropped to about 5kts from the west south west. She is presently bobbing along at about 2.5kts.

There has been an unbelievable amount of freighter traffic but nothing to worry about. Diane did talk to one ship because they were not coming up on her AIS and she couldn’t make out their heading. As soon as she made contact with them, they popped up on her screen. Only one sailboat and one fishing boat have been seen so far.

Speaking of fish… A flying fish landed in the boat last night and met with a quick eviction. No reason to keep it she still has food. Diane’s daily rations of food have been working out well. Each day she has had lots to eat and had left overs which will be kept for backup.

It has been a great day for Diane to do lots of napping and catch up on chores. You may remember the motor got swamped coming out the Biscayne Channel. Diane thought it best to give it a once over and make sure it’s ok in case it’s needed. The motor fired right up.

Next up: sail maintenance. Diane stitched the head sail and is doing some splicing on the storm sail. When the satellite telephone update is finished, Diane will change the pendant on the tack of the headsail.

The puffy clouds are coming so she hopes this will bring some better breeze. {Tim: 10pm: tightly clustered Spot Tracker updates indicate it’s still light out there. Nick is watching the Spot Tracker dots to cross check to his forecast time of 4am Wednesday, for the winds to start building. Yes, sailing is highly competitive – even the weather forecasting.]

Diane mentioned again how much she loves her new sailing foulies which is thanks to the Guarantee Company of North America who came on board as an equipment sponsor at the Toronto International Boat Show.

Perfect Sailing Weather: Sunny 10 to 15kts of Breeze

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February 22, 2011 posted by admin

Noon Tuesday February 22, 2011

Today’s update is via Nick, Diane’s sailing partner who was down to Florida to prep. the boat for the latest adventure. Nick writes:

Diane says she’s having a blast! Making great time almost laying the next mark. VMG is about 6kts. Beautiful sunny, perfect sailing weather. About 10-15kts of breeze right now (10am).

Diane had a problem with the autohelm last night but fixed it this morning. She had to work to avoid the cruise ships which she said where clustered. Almost sounded like there wasn’t much room between them. Lost the satellite at that point.

Tim again. I’m left pondering if they’re all xThunderbird skippers that had Diane musing about no-air August raft up regatta parties.

Nick strapped on his weather forecaster hat, the one with the anemometer on the top. Nick thinks it will get light and shitty shifty for most of the rest of the day. Then, starting around 4am Wednesday, it’ll start filling in again. At first from the North and going East as she gets further south.

I popped over to SailFlow to take a look. There the weather looks light until Wednesday evening.