Day 2 Friday 04/5/13
Location: Somewhere in the deep blue between Palma and Sardinia. Distance run 100nm
I commenced this qualification passage with some nervousness after some minis doing the course last week came into some very strong winds. Two of the mini’s took shelter in Manorca, while the third boat skippered by Jeff Macfarline was abandoned when his boat was rolled twice then pitchpolled causing damage to the keel and snapping the mast. Jeff was taken off the boat via helicopter 8 hours after setting off his EPIRB which makes us wonder why we actually carry them if the authorities do not act as soon as they are activated.
While the Mediterranean has the reputation of nice flowing breeze and calm seas for perfect sailing, it can actually be a very rough place to sail. Weather systems in the Med are small and move quickly and can turn the weather quickly from calm sailing conditions to rough and treacherous seas in a matter of hours. In a mini we have no internet or weather routing capability, so we must rely on weather reports broadcast via VHF radio, often which are hard to understand if you do not speak Italian or French.
I have now been hand steering in strong winds for most of the night, only being able to leave the helm briefly to make some coffee or bail out the water that sprays into the boat.
0628 Position 39 10N 004 48E Co 094 Sp 10 I have had no power throught the night. Solar panels have been set to catch the first rays of the morning sun so I can get some rest as soon as the battery voltage increases above 12.3V. I have just put in a reef and dropped the code 0 to reduce the load on the pilot while I sleep. Good miles have been made overnight, the wind is increasing and the sea state is now quite rough. Solar panels now charging the batteries so its time to get some sleep.. zzzz
1143 Position 39 05N 5 30E Sunrise – sun is obscured by the cloud, no good for my morning sun sight or for solar power for chargin batteries. I went below minutes before sunrise for some sleep only to wake up to find that the emergency container containing flares and die had leaked (water got in) and the emergency die had leaked out everywhere! The die has basicallyh exploded around the boat with orange colour everywhere, when washed with water it becomes bright yellow! As I clean the die I leave yellow footprints everywhere, and a trail of fluro yellow die behind the boat as I wash the deck (biodegradable of course!). There is a military operation near by and I woner if the Italian Marine Militare will notice the die and think it is an emergency. A helicopter flies over and no action is taken! 1502 Position 39 07N 005 55E Wind is all over the place, light and variable. I hoisted the code 0 for approximatly 20 minutes sailing very close to the wind. I managed to bent the outrigger so spent the next hour cutting the damaged section off, and shortening it so I can hoist the code 0 or a spinnaker again. Without it the bowsprit wlll fall off to leward and break as it will not be supported.
1602 Outrigger fixed and re-installed. I consider hoisting the code 5 wifh 2 reefs in the main but perhaps the wind angle is a bit tight. Still over 1000nm to palma so I must evaluate the risk, but at only 6.5 kts of wind speed I consier the conditions appropriate. I have now balanced the sails and rigged shock chord onto the helm so the RG can sail herself at tight reaching angles without a pilot, therefore preserving power. Even without the pilot I am making an ok course and have time to rest and continue cleaning the dreaded die out of the boat.
1900 EFOY just started working – how random as there is no power to the display. Battery voltage 12.8 volts, but I dont think the EFOY is charging, just doing its thing.
2300 Dinner time, cooked another freeze dried meal and discovered the chorizo and cheese Amanda pur in my provisions.. yum, thanks A. Dolpins dance around and give me a fantastic jumping display just after sunset as we surf downwind – the boat is now wet wet wet! Battery voltage is already at 12V, just not holding any charge. I will stay on the helm all night, with the odd break every few hours to brew another coffee. Thankfully my new Zhik wet weather gear and thermals keep me dry and troasty warm!