Yesterday was half way day and Dolfin had some presents waiting. Thank you Margie for your support of the fleet and the goodies you gave us. Probably won’t touch the champagne though until Hanalei. There was also a package from my wife, Patty. It is full of daily surprises as I learned so there were seven to open right away. She is so thoughtful and creative – day eight is a small baggie filled with “dirt from home”. You start dreaming of dirt after seeing nothing but water for days and weeks. We’re in the trades now, DDW with 18-22 kts and moving right along. So far no squalls
A taste from tonight’s after net chatter picked up on 6A, SSB, it is a noisy transmission, but one can hear Dolfin, Rainbow, and reportedly Morning Star. They are reachable from Hanalei now, and reported excitement about halfway boxes and planning for a change in the winds.
The bulk of the fleet has or will be hitting the halfway barge today, quite a busy place it will be, there could be a queue for the ice cream, wink. Double Espresso seems to have grown his first to finish lead despite his kvetching about slow speeds followed at the moment by Passages (the nemesis O30) and Nightmare. Crinan II and Riff Rider are holding their own along with Rainbow and Fugu who appear to have crossed tacks in fairly close proximity of each other. Perhaps they exchanged hello by wave or VHF.
Kyntanna has kicked some serious southing butt today, closing the gap a little bit with the comfort clump, some apparently setting off each others’ AIS alarms. Morning Star continues the eastern defense. He was closer to the finish for a time than Kyntanna, saved now by the aforementioned butt kicking. Both of them will likely be seeing the coming increase in wind before the rest of the fleet, so we could see the kicking continue. By tomorrow the wind is forecast to do the kicking and we’ll see how our intrepids fare as they begin to enter or continue in the stiffening trades. Boat parts that have been worked slatting around in lighter air will be in for a test. Less than 800 miles to go for our faster boats.
Hanalei awaits their arrival:
Hanalei Bay this morning (7/1)
-Photo courtesy of Veteran Buglighter s/v Tiger Beetle
Finally getting a little wind after two slow days. 10-12kts now with assymetrical up on a beautiful, clear day. Starting to remember why I’m doing this again. Jacqueline has been near me almost from the start and I’ve had to disable the AIS alarm several times as a result. Sure miss Mouton Noir as Comm Boat; we did it by committee trying to fill Mike’s shoes but now Morning Star has taken up the challenge and is doing great. Hoping this wind will hold all the way to Hanalei – no more slatting.
On the seventh day it has been said that one must rest. Hmmm, maybe not so much for these racers. The slower one goes in lighter winds, the more one actually must work to make the boat move. These folks are still lucky though, despite slow speeds, they appear to still have some speed. If the high had sunk further south, like in some prior years, 4 kts would be celebrated with much glee. We have reports that the front five maybe did rest briefly upon their visit to the halfway barge and my understanding is that they were well rewarded with Starbucks and ice cream…er, at least maybe jerky and something to read, perhaps a picture of a coffee, wink, wink? Halfway boxes are all the way fun.
Well, only 1000 miles and change to go…. 🙂 Now well in the lead to finish first, Double Espresso has maybe had some triple espresso. He complains of being slow, but if the tracking is correct, he’s a fair bit ahead. Speaking of going, things may be going a lot more quickly in the coming days if the winds strengthen as forecast. Our leaders will likely reap the benefits. The comfort clump may even get the advantage first and catch up. Let’s hope our northwest flyer, Kyntanna, sees it too.
So Day 6 saw a relaxing of wind and relative slowing of the fleet. Folks are still moving though, just not as fast as before. Racers are reporting a welcomed poking out of the sun and lightening of the wind. Happier solar panels. Power is a very good thing. The suicidal squid and flying fish are beginning to make their appearances. The tropics are nearing…
Some are contemplating their proximity to that Pacific high. Kyntanna continues her northward surge, reporting that one of her considerations is staying high to keep the windvane from accidentally jibing the boat. Her boat sails without a spinnaker. Others are getting some use of their spinnies. Riff Rider continues to stay south and stay moving, as does Double Espresso, who though slowed, is still moving respectably in the 6 kt range and has moved into the lead for arriving first. Nightmare and Passages are also moving well in the lighter air and have overtaken a few positions on elapsed time. The comfort clump continues to comfort each other, each not straying too far. Morning Star continues to protect the eastern front. The beginning of the fleet will soon reach half way. Smooth sailing from there on out? Well, the weather could get interesting following this lull. We’ll check in on that soon.
Today saw the windy reach transitioning into “crossing the ridge” for the bulk of the fleet – this means winds much further aft, and lightening up as they move out of the wide California Coastal flow, aka Gale Alley, into the edge of the Eastern Pacific High pressure zone and their “slot car” paths.
Our intrepid are reporting relaxing, eating full meals, and likely beginning to enjoy the sailing. That is, as long as they are not fretting too much about what may lie ahead. Remember that heretofore behaving Pacific High? Well, even the good kids act out occasionally and the forecast is showing this High maybe just can’t resist messing with our guys and gal.
The current long, not well formed, High is forecast to tighten up a bit in the next couple of days, and as it does this, it will extend a ridge from north to south down into the path of the fleet. We’ve seen some of the fleet likely reacting to this projection, including Riff Rider who has dipped more south, as well, Double Espresso. Others in the fleet, however, seem to have veered north, or west, Crinan II, JouJou, Passages, Nightmare. Overall, this year’s fleet is tracking a more northerly route than past races, flirting with the edge of that ridge, including the boats in the “clump of comfort”: Fugu, Iris, Jacqueline, Owl, Dolphin, Crazy Rythym, and Dark Horse. Kyntanna has sailed over west to join that party, leaving Morning Star still as the easternmost boat.
We’ll see in about 36-48 hours what effect the lighter winds have. Some may be able to get in front of the ridge, some may end up in it. Distance traveled is always a trade off with the speed traveled over that distance.
As our sailors are easing into the windy reach, the windy is easing in to boat parts and doing away with the weakest of links. Boom Vangs, autopilots, wayward halyards, traveler cars, mainsail tears have all been reported. If your parts make it through this phase, well, hopefully, that means they’ll last you the whole trip. We can think that way, anyhow.
Most racers are reporting warmer weather and water now, and the wind starting to clock a little aft. We have seen a juxtaposition of leader boats with the sport boats doing their stuff in the conditions they were made for: Double Espresso and Passages, two Olson 30s, the boat of choice for this race, surfed up from behind to overtake the Capo 30 JouJou and join in the lead with Riff Rider and Crinan II, in elapsed time. Standings with corrected time are much different, and with so much runway left, it is still anyone’s race, well, almost anyone.
Wind is still projected to hold and a southerly surge reprise forecasted for this weekend should land far enough east of the fleet not to be a factor in slowing anyone down. Several days out, tropical low pressure systems off Mexico might disrupt some of the usual tradewind flow, so we’ll be keeping an eye on those weather systems. The dreaded Pacific High has so far been behaving itself, and staying well to the North. Great luck for these 2018 racers.