The pad eye that exploded had a defect. We took a picture of it. Richard had a better idea to fix this: build a soft pad eye right in place, using spectra line. The only difference is the fact that the new soft pad eye runs athwart ship as opposed to the exploded one that ran fore and aft. Not an issue for our application. We lost some precious time.
On another note, we are astounded at how well we’ve been doing against fully crewed racing machines. We’ve kept pace with Hugo Boss, which is the Assa Abloy entry in the the Volvo Race, as well as Morning Light, our fast TP-52. We really shouldn’t have kept up, but to date it has been a navigator’s, tactical and strategic race. And we’ve more than held our own. In fact, many boats have come down to our approach to Honolulu. Now that it is a drag race, we expect to be passed. There is no way that the two of us on a 50 foot boat can keep up with the pack of TP-52s, Volvo 60s and others behind us for much more than 24 hours. The race now is about how battle that which we can’t win. ‘But that won’t stop us from trying’!
As far as the record is concerned, 10 days would mean crossing the finish line at Diamond Head Wednesday, July the 25th at 1 pm pst. Pretty close to impossible. That word is not in Richard’s or my vocabulary.
Exploded pad eye
New fixed soft pad eye
This has been a busy day for us on board the mighty Pegasus. Our crew of two has had to rebuild pad eyes, trouble shoot electrical problems (corrosion caused by sea-salt had jammed an electrical switch open) and go through a complete sheet and mechanical check.
There is a boat to our port quarter. We think that it may be Hugo Boss, the Volvo 60, but we are not sure. Roll-call in the morning will tell us.
We are getting ready for our twilight sights. It’s like a routine now. That’s when we have dinner too, a meal that we share. Then I will take the first long night watch while Richard gets some well deserved sleep.
Our ICOM M-802 single side band receiver has become a most useful tool. We just raised Mark Rudiger on Holua, the Santa Cruz 70. Mark is sailing with two good friends: Dave Ullman and Brent Ruhne. David and Brent just won the Melges 24 World Championships with our team. They are a bit North of us and as we talked they seemed to have their hands full with a squall. The M-802 is a great OceanGizmo. I actually have one setup at my house as a HAM radio, they are great. If you couple it with a Pactor modem, you can do email, and weather charts over-the-air without any infrastructure support anywhere in the world. No Internet needed. The ultimate survivalist’s global communications tools. With HAM radio licenses not requiring Morse code anymore, it’s one of the coolest gadgets that you can setup for yourself – on water and on anything.
Our boat has an escape hatch so that if we flip over and can’t right the boat, we can get out through that hatch. The hatch is on the stern, almost at water level and when you look through it, you can see the tracks that we leave on the ocean. Here is a picture of the view from our escape hatch.
rom the escape hatch, the tracks that we leave behind us on the Ocean
Getting ready to take a batch of sites at Twilight. Jupiter, Venus and Polaris tonight. I like Polaris because you get your latitude right away and it’s a great way to cross-check everything. Our Navigator extraordinaire, Stockey who lives in Cowes, taught me a lot of simple and useful tricks that really make a big difference. Stokey lives in Cowes (UK), doesn’t drive, and knows more about the stars, weather, seamanship than anyone I know. Stokey runs the UKs premier Ocean training school.
My homepage on my Mac is Gizmodo. Gizmodo just wrote an interview on the Pegasus. Check it out: Simply click on Gizmodo
Bang. I mean big bang. I’m driving on deck; Richard is sleeping down bellow. The tip of the boom comes up violently. The vang pad-eye just exploded. I engage the pilot while watching carefully, trim in the main sheet and start looking for attachment points. Once I’m ready, I wake up Richard to see if he agrees with my new rig.
We lost two knots of boat-speed. That’s the challenge with being double handed – now we’ve got to do some boat building and can’t push the boat as fast. We’ll find a way.
In the last 24 hours despite being ‘swallowed’ by a net, and stuck a couple of times behind windless squally clouds, we still managed to sail 249 nautical miles, most of those in the direction of the Diamond Head Lighthouse. We are now sailing in solid 18 knot winds, gusting, our cog is 255 degrees, true wind angle averaging 145 and true wind direction of 45 degrees. Life is good!
Richard and I split the night four hours on/off each. So we were both able to get 3 hours of sleep, which is a luxury that we both enjoyed. We both trust in each other’s abilities to do the right thing.
Night watch at Daybreak
We did it! So picture the boat on its side in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Richard standing on the side (clipped-in), armed with a carbon mainsail batten and yours truly driving the boat to balance it on its side, just as the wind hit 18 knots accompanied by big swells. It was way too dangerous to focus on anything but the task at hand. On a fully crewed boat this is much easier, in our case, if one goes in the water, it becomes much more challenging rapidly. All is well that ends well. We lost two hours. Two precious hours. We’ll have to push even harder.
The big net on the leeward rudder
The trade winds are back! Yes, that's Richard, hanging on the articulated bowsprit taking a picture while I'm driving. Andria and Zoe, he's carefully clipped in, no worries!
After rain squall piled upon rain squall, refreshing but very light breeze, we managed to catch a squall that had 22 knots of breeze in front of it and ride it for 45 minutes. We chose to sail low in front of it because jibing quickly is not an option with the the two of us on a powered up 50 foot boat – twice the size of a Melges 24 and 4 times the loads! As our ride started to fizzle out, the sky cleared, the puffy trade wind clouds reappeared and we’re now sailing in 16 knots of breeze, lively seas, and pointing right at Honolulu.
We like where we are. This weather pattern is constantly challenging the whole fleet. We are South, but not all the way South.
Both wind strength and wind direction have improved. The Q-scat chart that we downloaded shows more headed pressure ahead. That’s exactly what we are looking for.
Fundamentally, we have 5 days to get to Honolulu to be inside the record. We are about 1375 nautical miles on a Great Circle distance from Honolulu. On a plane, the line that minimizes the distance between any two points is the straight line. On an orange, that minimal distance line is called a Great Circle. Sailboats generally don’t travel Great Circles because their courses are dictated by the wind. Therefore we never get to travel minimal distances as the geometry of our courses is a bit different. So let’s say that we need to travel an extra 200 nautical miles. That would be a sailboat travel distance of 1575 nautical miles. That would mean averaging about 13 knots of boat speed. If we get the wind, we can do it. However we need to get the wind.
About six hours ago the wind started to lighten up on us. We downloaded some very recent satellite images and noticed that there must be a lightning effect from the cold front that went through. The wind direction has not changed and we seem to be pointed towards the better breeze. In the last 24 hours we sailed 260 miles on a great circle. That’s good given the moderate conditions. All in all, it was an uneventful night when we each stood watch to let each other catch a couple of hours of sleep. Now we feel fresh and we’re looking for more wind.
Beautiful sailing in the trades with the wind holding up nicely. Now we’re entering the third part of the race: running to Honolulu in the trades. The race course is a mine field of squally clouds that build up in the late afternoon when the ocean is still warm and the air temperature cools down rapidly creating a condensation effect. These clouds can build up rapidly with considerable vertical development and ‘mature’ during the first part of the night, creating massive updrafts and sucking the air behind them. They tend to collapse around 4 am and can leave you trapped in zones of no wind for hours on end. And, of course, that tends to be the time of the night when we have the hardest time focusing. Richard has great eyes for those weather features. So I’m going to make sure that he gets plenty of rest early.
Here is where we are on the chart. We are very happy with our approach to Honolulu. Now we are in our slot: we are sailing a true wind angle of roughly 40 degrees, the wind is from the North East at 30 degrees and our course over the ground is about 256 degrees. Straight to Honolulu. In Honolulu, the trade winds are blowing at about 80 degrees. Therefore, we expect a persistent right shift of 50 degrees over the next few days. As the wind shifts, we will jibe to port inside the layline to Honolulu as we expect that persistent shift to occur. When and where to jibe will be a big decision for us. And, jibing this boat with only two of us in over 20 knots of wind is quite tricky.
Our progress so far, with each date and the time of reporting and the distance sailed every 24 hours