January 29th 2019 1000
24 hours ago I was watching the weather offshore from Miami envisioning our start. The final preparations were being completed with 4 hours to leave the dock and 6 hours to start. As I looked to the horizon the sun backed the rain and the clouds making for a picturesque scene. You could see the rain falling at sharp angles represent that which we seek.... WIND!
Three days prior, on the delivery from Ft. Lauderdale our back up A2 blew out! Sail ripped in half 3/4 the way up and then shredded all the way down the luff of the sail. Probably fortunate that it didn't happen while racing. Since it was railing outsikde and we needed to deliver the sail to the loft, we dried the sail in a hotel ballroom. That was quite a sight, grown men playing parachute like kindergartners!. On our trial sail on Saturday, it was determined that the clew of the main should be reinforced so that sail was also taken to the loft. North did an incredible job getting us the sails back in time for our start. Sails were back to the boat by 9am.
In all this we were able to perform our safety and weather debrief and leave the dock at noon. As we left Miami and exited Governors cut, large waves were breaking on both sides of the channel. Wave faces were probably 8-10 feet. This was a precursor of what was to come in the Gulf Stream. Our predictions were 6ft seas mixed with gulf current chop and an opposing winds from the Northwest.
On the start line comments were made by radio about the length of the line to which the committee responded to "be safe". 2pm the start was clean and we were off to Jamaica. Our Winds were strong 20-25 knots and we saw occasional gusts to 30 knots, and the sea state was growing as we approached the Gulf Stream. The first 3 -4 hours were a wild ride! It was intense sailing and the boat was in performance mode, and rocking hard in the conditions... Chim Chim is a good boat!!! We saw boat speeds regularly 24-26 knots. The waves were big probably 10-15 feet and choppy. Current was 3 knots. We were ON! There were a couple of times that it felt the entire boat was airborn off a couple of the wave backs. It felt more like a Mickey Thompson off road baja race than an ocean sail! When the bow digs in at 20+ knots into a wave the firehose turns on! All were soaked from head to toe!
John was at the helm for the wild ride. When he turned the helm over he came inside, after about 5 minutes made a comment that when you're on the tiller, you feel like you're out for a casual Sunday sail, much different experience, even in the wild conditions!
Looking forward to see the helicopter pictures.
Once we were about 1/2 way to the first mark, things started to mellow out a little bit, and as we approached Great Isaac and night began to fall, calm took over. The wind dropped below 10 knots and seas were calm.
Yesterday, I have a note from my notebook that says "Rock and Roll predicted for today, but it should calm down my this evening. A key to success in this race will be to avoid breakage, or at least minimize it, in the Gulf Stream." the boat held up well and no problems to report.
Through most the night it's been light and shifty. As we approached our second mark, Great Stirrup, the wind dropped below 3 knots and began to circle. We have definitely gone through the sail inventory. Solent, A3, A5, Reacher, Zero, Frac Reacher, multiple times on each sail. It was a beautiful night, the stars were out and were veiwed through windows in the clouds. We could see the light s of the islands abound us, along with the traffic of tankers and the well lit cities (aka cruise ships).
Last night Lady Mariposa passed us, we were able to get back in front of them and now race in sight of both Lady Mariposa off our port hip and Conviction directly behind us. We are able to outrun them with our reacher up, but they catch us when we are on the Solent. Currently land is in sight of Eleuthera. the clouds are starting to break and the wind is filling in nicely, but it is still relatively light (less than 10 knots of breeze). We are working with the shifts and the breeze changes to make our next rounding 14 miles ahead. Then we make the turn towards Cuba, that will bring us on to Jamaica! Montego Bay here we come.
Wishing our Gunboat friends on Momentum well. Hope that no one was hurt or boat was not damaged. Wish you were out here to race with.