Velux 5 Ocean. Sir Robinís dilemma, divert to Cape Town or cross Southern Ocean with failing mainsail

Saturday, 18 November 2006


Had a good chat with Mike Golding (competitor in 2nd place) who had just heard about my broken battens and rang to commiserate.  He missed closing on Stamm by a whisker owing to a weather change, so I am not the only one suffering.  He was certainly closing the gap nicely for a while.   He sounded cheerful.

Alex Thomson appears to be heading as fast as he can into the Roaring Forties as his best chance of playing catch up.   A nice aggressive move.

There are two aspects to yesterday. 

For the poetically minded it was a day of blue seas, with bursts of flying fish from time to time and sunny blue skies, interspersed by occasional squalls, but they brought welcome cooling rain.  The wind has backed a little, so we are heading south.  As it backs more, which it will do eventually, we'll be able to shape a course more in the direction of Bernard Stamm, but we do have the south Atlantic high pressure system to get round before we can get to the Southern Ocean and that moves around quite a lot.  You have to thread a needle but someone else is moving the eye of the needle about!

For the practically minded I spent time on my two main problems, the battens and the auto pilot. The question is, how long will the splinted battens last?

The decision which will come sooner rather than later is whether to divert for new battens and to have these electronics fixed, or press on knowing the mainsail may become unusable and I might lose the auto pilots.   Well, that’s a worst case scenario.  To divert would probably mean Cape Town and taking a 48-hour penalty stop.  But that’s only the beginning.  

The diversion would probably cost 6 days in addition in sailing time, so the total loss would be as much as 8 days, and that is 8 days onto my elapsed time which really says that the Velux5Oceans is no longer a serious competition for me.  It has to be more effective to press on for Fremantle.   Even if I lose the mainsail I can still sail and don't see how I'd lose 8 days because of that in a 20 day passage.  

The auto pilot is more worrying, but if it works it works. Too soon to decide but don't want to divert unless its absolutely necessary. There is another factor to be taken into consideration, which may be decisive.  There is not the whisky aboard I thought there was.  I thought I had 8 bottles, but having finished 2 1/2 I find only one unopened one left!  There has been a very careful search made I can assure you!  One bottle, plus a bit, to get me all the way to Australia, is nothing like enough, and the deficiency could damage my health.  I'd like to know where the other 4 bottles have gone to anyway.   I wonder whether an air drop or rendezvous with a ship could not be arranged.   As my brother Michael said, whisky is not necessary its essential.  I am sure the Race Committee could understand that a re-supply brings no competitive advantage!

Otherwise everything is fine. I apologise for not wearing a shirt when doing TV interviews but I have to run up the batteries for that, and the engine is right beneath the seat I talk from.  It’s like a sauna.   But did you notice how clean I was?   It’s all that bathing in salt water, which I have always done on long journeys at sea.     There's no fussing, when hot put the bucket overside, fill it, bring it back and tip it over your head.  It’s delicious.  RKJ

Yacht Saga Insurance.
Miles to Fremantle: 7899
Average Speed in last 24 hrs: 9.17 knots
Distance Travelled in 24 hrs: 220.1

0700 hours GMT Saturday 18th November 2006
Latitude 6 00S    Longitude 029 49W    Course 180 degrees    Speed 9.5 kts  Wind SE'Ly  Force 4 with squalls to 5-6. 


Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 November 2006 )