LAT 32 22.9N
LONG 127 04.6E
ETA 04 April 2012
WEATHER WIND 311@22 SEA MOD SWELL WNW 3m Vis Poor Baro 1016.9
Currently Gold Coast Australia is humming along at over 10 kts towards our next waypoint and the sun has just appeared for the first time since Qingdao. The mood onboard is good as the new joiners find their feet and everybody settles into a regular watch routine again. This is a nice change from the past 24 hours racing through the Yellow Sea filled with fishing vessels, nets, kamikaze ships, low viability and gusty winds.
Yesterday afternoon the wind veered as predicted and we set our heavy weight spinnaker allowing us to pull away slightly from the rest of the fleet who were at the time still very tightly bunched. After the sun set and at watch change a combination of gusty winds, freezing conditions, fog and a few nervous crew gave us enough reason to drop the spinnaker and contend with the Y1 throughout the night. This would be a decision we would defiantly not regret as throughout the night there were a number of close encounters with un-lit nets and vessels that did not show up on radar or AIS. After one such encounter I was called on deck as our speed had significantly decreased and the helmsman was having trouble maintaining course. It was discovered that we were trailing a large net or line and had no option but to sail head to wind and try to shake the net off the keel and rudder. After 10 minutes and various attempts which included sailing the 68 ft yacht backwards like a dinghy we finally managed to shake the most significant part of the net off, though I would not be surprised if there are still remnants under the hull. We will not be able to determine this until the weather further abates. The manoeuvre of shaking the nets cost us a lot of time, and allowed the other yachts to catch up, though I’m sure all the yachts in the fleet had their fair share of obstacles last night.
At dawn a number of the fleet had close encounters with one particular ship called “Alfa Gloria”. The bulk carrier who was approximately 240m long with a tonnage of over 100,000 GRT apparently saw a fishing boat off its port bow and as a knee jerk reaction altered course hard to starboard without checking the new course finding itself on a collision course with three yachts and a number of fishing boats. Gold Coast Australia had no time to set up for a gybe and I was forced to crash tack and sail 90 degrees to our course to get out of the ships way. The engine was started as a precaution, however thankfully was not required.
Later that morning as the winds moderated we saw Welcome to Yorkshire sail across our bow with their kite up. A looming sight seeing the pink yacht sailing under full sail in the mist. As the wind began to abate and the sky cleared slightly we also set our heavy weight spinnaker and have been heading east at good speed ever since.
I believe the fleet has now split into two groups, those who continued to the SE and those who gybed off to the east with us. As the winds are forecast to veer later in the day and into the night our current position should give us the tactical advantage over the rest of the fleet and we should easily be able to lay the mark “Sata Misaki Light” off the southern end of Japan, where we will begin making use of the Kiro Shio Current as we beat to windward on our great circle route to San Francisco.