Archive for October, 2013

Fleet Pit Stop: Porto de Sada, Spain

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October 30, 2013 posted by admin

Wednesday October 30, 2013

The weather story continues. Conditions are deteriorating at Cape Finisterre and thus the Race Committee had decided to have the fleet put in at Porto de Sada. See the Google “chart” below. They’ll wait out the weather for a couple days. Diane’s French is quite good – wonder about her Spanish. Read the full Mini-Transat news release.

The weather overlay on fleet tracking has the wind at 14 to 20 knots. It also shows boats on both port heading west and starboard heading south. It’s on the nose – beating to weather in seas that haven’t calmed down much.

The fleet has had a few mishaps thus far. Bert in Netwerk, who hosted Diane during the two week, pre-race weather delay, has bailed on the race with a shredded jib. Shortly after the start, a tree reared up from between a couple of waves and punctured his headsail. The Mini-Transat web site has a nice, pre-puncture picture of Bert on its front page.

Speaking of seaborne obstacles, a container ship has lost 15 containers. They’re the steel version of growlers from racing in extreme latitudes.

Craig on Naked Retreat, the former owner of Diane’s boat was involved in a collision at the start. The other boat was able to return to port in Douarmenez effect repairs. Alas Craig’s damage could not be fixed before the starting weather window closed.

Katrina on Seanergy, Diane’s Mini friend from Oz, had difficulty getting in the the rhythm of the seas at the start, but seems to up to speed and moving up through the fleet.

The English translations of news segments on the Mini Transat web site can be a bit awkward in their grammar, but quite understandable. Read the details about Bert, Craig & Katrina and other competitor, including the update with Tuesday’s late day de-masting.


The blue marker is Porto de Sada, the newly added pit stop for the fleet to wait out the Cape Finisterre (yellow) weather. You can interact with this Google “chart” directly, or use the link below to open it full size in a new window.

View OGOC Mini Transat: 1,257 Miles to Lanzarote in a larger “chart”

The Race Has Started, Tracking & Weather Notes

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October 29, 2013 posted by admin

Tuesday October 29, 2013

Tim here, back doing updates whilst Diane is incommunicado. Hopefully Diane got a good night’s sleep, her last for 1,267 nautical miles in this first leg.

And… they’re off! Fifteen days of delay due to weather bombs. Fleet tracking is up and running! At 0919 they got started in about 12 knots of wind. Forecast has it building to 20 knots out of the north west with 6 to 7 meter seas (20 to 23ft).

This morning, the MiniTransatweb server is very slow – lots of traffic watching the start. There is a web page of  instructions for following the first hour of the race (in english). Looking forward to watching the fleet on the Raz de Sien web cam.

The weather briefing notes: the westerly flow generated by the very deep depression that swept up the English Channel during the weekend is fading quickly. A ridge of high pressure is gradually taking over the Bay of Biscay and is expected to bring moderating north westerly wind patterns. But the sea will remain high for 48 hours. [Wind down: yeah! A day and a half of big seas: boo! -th]

The weather briefing goes on to note: The main obstacle on the way to Lanzarote [Canary Islands], is in the vicinity of Cape Finisterre, as [the fleet’s] arrival there may coincide with a strengthening in the wind of up to 30 knots. Conditions that will be far from comfortable, but that should not be an insurmountable obstacle for the fleet of Minis. Although the crossing of the Bay of Biscay should be completed safely, the passage around Cape Finisterre could be tricky for the [tail end of the fleet]. However, it is by far the best conditions for the past two weeks.

Fair Winds and God Speed Diane!

Here We Go!!!

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October 28, 2013 posted by admin

October 28, 2013
One final race briefing complete!  We start tomorrow October 29, 2013 at 0900 local french time.  The weather forecast has a very large swell and some heavy wind.  Unfortunately it will also be blowing 30 knots from the south west as we go around Cape Finisterre.  It’s going to be huge waves, swell against wind and 30 knots on the nose.  This is going to make last year’s UK Fastnet race look like a walk in the park!  We still have a prevision to be rerouted to Gijon Spain if the conditions worsen again.  Cross your fingers that the big weather bomb of a low climbs a bit further north on Friday to give us better conditions on Saturday when we’re going around!  The tracker will be up and running sometime soon and you will all be able to follow. See you in the Canaries!  🙂

Time to go!

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October 28, 2013 posted by admin

October 28, 2013
Boat is moved to Treboul with the rest of the fleet and ready for a start tomorrow. Water and apples are loaded in the cockpit, gear is stacked, tomorrow’s clothes are ready….now to finish the weather routing! Tonight’s briefing is at 1900 local time.

Sunday October 27, 2013

The briefing from today’s Code Green has the fleet sailing directly to Lanzarote in the Canary islands. We’ve got another waypoint added to our Sailing Instructions. There is a Traffic Seperation Scheme at Cape Finistere. Offshore rules require racing sailboats to stay outside of any TSS. Now we are required to keep it to starboard keeping us quite close to Finisterre but keeping us tidily locked in and far away from the very very large low out in the Atlantic that is slowly working its way north east.

They desperately need to get this race started or they are thinking that they never will. There is another cold low setting in that’s going to sock us in if we don’t get going. Once we’re below Finisterre we’re pretty safe but until then it’s a desperate run!

It’s still pouring rain in France. Enough rain to cause drops in WiFi signal, which, to begin with, was none too fast. Makes downloading weather files problematic. Got my head buried in foul weather gear, downloading grib files. before I can bury my head in weather and tide tables to work out some routing options.

Monday we get towed out of the locked in harbour that and taken to Treboul so that we can do the start when we want rather than being forced into timing with the lock. [The harbour is inside the “lock” to maintain sufficient water level to float the boats. The lock is only open a couple hours either side of high tide.]

The race course at the moment is straight to the Canary Islands but we’re required now to keep the TSS off of Cape Finisterre to starboard, locking us all into a narrow corridore at Cape Finisterre of about 15n miles.

I’ll send an update after Monday’s 1900 briefing (7pm France or 1pm Toronto).
View Mini Transat: First Leg: 1,257 Miles to Lanzarote in a larger map


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October 27, 2013 posted by admin


It may be blowing 35knots here but we’re officially code green! We have a possible start in 24 hours!!! We will be towed out to Treboul tomorrow so that we are ready to go at any given moment. Time to finish the weather routing!!! Warm up the printers we’re looking good!


Code Orange!

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October 27, 2013 posted by admin

We’ve gone code ORANGE!!!!!
Stand by for tonight’s weather briefing to find out the latest scoop on when we might go and if we’re going to Spain or directly to the Canary Islands 🙂


Back To Code Red

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October 24, 2013 posted by admin

October 24, 2013
Back to CODE RED!!  

Wave heights of 10 metres, wind speeds and squalls with gusts up to 45 knots and a bigger depression that might drop on us are holding us back….again.   Although Saturday morning the wind is favorable to race to Gijon Spain with winds up to 25 knots, the wind is also estimated to be out of the North West after arriving in Gijon and preparing to leave to get to the Canaries.  This would be impossible for a second leg.  Also, Sunday there should be a nice weather bomb drop in on Douarnenez with gusts up to 50 knots.  We’re planning a classe trip to go out to the Raz de Sein (by foot) and take pictures of some earth shattering wind and wave action!!!  In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for the next window opening up Monday or Tuesday.  The weather model for Monday shows the Azores high to lock in with a center isobar reading of 1030!  Fingers crossed, fingers crossed!!!

Code Orange: Friday Start?

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October 23, 2013 posted by admin

Wednesday October 23, 2013

We’ve gone CODE ORANGE! There is a small window of opportunity to send us to Gijon Spain and make this a three leg race. The window is very very narrow though. If you are as obsessed about weather as I am then have a look at the latest grib file. If they start us on Friday at 1800 we will be pushing hard upwind in 35 knots in the Bay of Biscay all the way to Gijon Spain. If a boat gets stuck at the tail end they may have to fight 40 knots of wind to get into the harbour. We’ll have confirmation Thursday at the 1800 briefing (noon Toronto time). Stay Tuned!!!

You can interact with this Google “chart” directly or click the link below to open it full sized:

View OGOC: First Leg: Douarnenez, France to Gijón, Spain in a larger map

Jack and Plats

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October 21, 2013 posted by admin

October 21, 2013

Well, since we’re still under a code red with a little time to kill, I’ve found a nice little spot inside the boat for “Jack”.

Jack is my new Canadian friend who is coming across the Atlantic with me.  He arrived with friends of mine from Canada and is a welcome little addition.  It’s a bit tricky to find a safe and dry place, but I’m sure I will.  In the meantime, Jack has made a new friend with “Plats”.  Plats is a platypus that has found his way onboard Katrina’s boat in about the same fashion.  Cross your fingers for tonight’s briefing!