Hanging tough after a tough night
Date: Thursday, July 18th
Lat: 25 31 North
Lon: 151 39 West
Course over ground: 226 degrees magnetic
Speed over ground: 12 knots
In sail boat racing there is a factor that nobody controls: The weather. No matter how good and prepared you are, no matter how much technology you use, you can hardly go wrong if the weather cooperates with your plans. However if the weather is not on your side, all your plans and a lot of your gains may evaporate quickly.
Last night was tough. Not tough because of windy or physically taxing conditions, but tough because we got stuck in the back of a squall line and we found ourselves very close to coming to a dead stop. And things get tough because when you are only doing a few knots of boat speed, you think about your competitors gaining 10 miles for every hour. This situation happened for several hours last night. This was very frustrating because there was nothing that we could do. Yes, you could argue that a portion of this line of squalls could be seen on the satellite pictures that we receive periodically every day. However, they didn’t look significant to us on the satellite pictures. That was our bad and their gains.
At daybreak, the team was bruised. All had been going so well until….. It took half an hour of mumbling and questioning. Then everyone was ready to put that extra effort that could possibly make up for our loss to these squalls. The question on our minds: Did this just happen to us or did it also affect Zephyrus and Mari-Cha? We’d have to wait for roll call. Patience.
An incomplete roll-call
Mari-Cha put 23 miles of distance on us in the last 24 hours, shaving significantly the gains that we had made on her. But Zephyrus did not answer the radio call. Several of us tried to raise them on VHF without success. Three hours later, still silence. Where are they, how did they do? We know that they have had some issues since the start, including a declaration to the race committee that they had to turn the engine on a second day (at this point nobody still knows why?) We all hope that all is well with Zephyrus and that it’s just a hardware problem. Of course, on handicap we are still significantly ahead, but somehow, we are still trying to defy gravity on Pegasus 77 and attempt the impossible: To beat Zephyrus and Mari-Cha to Honolulu boat for boat. Unfortunately gravity could be pulling us back to planet earth!
Back in the Easterly trades
We are now back in the easterly trades, although in fairly light winds. But Pegasus 77 does 12 knots of boat speed in 12 knots of wind, and we are pointed right at Honolulu which is on a bearing of 224 degrees magnetic at a distance of 414 nautical miles.
Swimming in more than 10,000 ft deep water
We played with squalls all day. We played and lost the game several times. Around noon we were becalmed behind a huge squall. The knot-meter was reading triple zeroes. So I did something silly: I jumped in to take a swim around Pegasus 77. Beautiful, pristine deep blue rays plunging to infinitum it seems. Swimming knowing that there is more than 10,000 feet of water under with endless types of creatures living from the surface to the abyss. What a feeling…. We saw the puff coming and there was a significant scramble to get back on the boat: Two minutes later it was blowing 18 knots. But we were becalmed for an hour. Tough sailing. Gravity pulling us back to planet earth. Now we have to be significantly behind, boat for boat. Bad luck, but an uplifting personal experience. I have been across the Pacific five times now and three times I got to experience swimming in deep water. Priceless.
Late afternoon in the trades
We are now experiencing perfect trade wind sailing conditions with 18 knot north-easterly winds. We are pointed right to Kaneohe Bay