06/11/2009, 170 miles from Palma
So we closed the gap to within a mile of the Oyster - right on his tail... then he did an abrupt course change falling off 30 degrees to the North and separating from us by 2 miles then returning to his course. He saw us coming, I know it. It was a desperate act by a desperate opponent to try to clear his air that we were most certainly going to steal as we went by. Now we travel on parallel courses 2 miles apart in the final leg towards Palma.
Now the wind has gone soft again so it is a battle of the motors, he is pulling away a bit but we are holding our own. If the wind fills and goes north as forecasted we will have a better angle and will undoubtedly come in hot over the top, yes that is the plan, we will stick with it and prevail!
Next report tomorrow….
Today’s trivia the last question of the contest… for all the marbles: How Long is a Chinese name?
06/11/2009, 37 23'N:00 56'W, 200 miles from Palma
Sailing by definition is the fine art of getting wet and becoming ill while slowly going nowhere at great expense. In a similar vane ocean racing is like standing in a freezing cold shower fully clothed and tearing up 100 dollar bills. It has also been said that sailing is long periods of boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror.
Today we fly along with none of that! We are in the midst of a sailing phenomenon understood by only a true sailor. This phenomenon is known as the ‘unspoken racing contingent’. By definition it sates “If two boats that are generally headed in the same direction, in the same vicinity, at the same time in similar conditions - ARE in fact racing.” Game on with a nearby Oyster baby!
Yesterday as we passed Gibraltar a larger Oyster pulled out of the harbor just behind us about 2 miles back. We were under motor only. They had full sail up. They were much closer to shore while we were a bit further out cutting the angle to the next point. While we were in good current pushing us along nicely this larger Oyster of maybe 70 – 80 feet was in better breeze and promptly marched up on us. As they drew even with us their wind ran out and since they were closer to shore they experienced less current and we began to pull away.
We had put 3 miles on them in the course of 2 hours while we marched along. By nightfall the wind was completely gone, so it became a game of motor strength. While we have the hammer down we are no match for the increased waterline length and engine strength of this larger boat. They slowly gained to within 1.5 miles by sunset and by morning were about 2.5 miles ahead of us. We had chosen the inside line this time and they had worked their way to the outside.
About 2 hours ago the wind began to fill from the southeast! We raised the main to a double reef and rolled out the full genoa. One Two Many gently heeled to her perfect angle of about 10 degrees and gobbled up the additional horsepower of the sails and spat out a burst of speed like a steady firm stomp on the gas peddle of a big V12 powered Jaguar. We decreased our engine RPM’s and found a full knot of boat speed.. They have chosen to go with full main only and we are bringing them back to us! David and Goliath right here on the flat calm seas – and Hell NO they are not going to beat me to Palma!
We are enjoying a gentle breeze in dead flat seas in the crystal clear sunshine. The crew naps, reads, works on their splicing technique and otherwise busies themselves. Me I tried to play some guitar… not going to happen I can’t get mister Oyster out of my head! She looms there ahead of us and we are flying; gradually bringing her back to us, I check my gauges after every sentence I write at this moment to make sure we are optimum speed, angle, trajectory. Yes you can take the sailor out of the race but you can’t the race out of the sailor!
The forecast is for the wind to gradually veer to a more easterly direction as we move into tonight. We are already close hauled on a very tight angle but holding our speed nicely. I have decided not to sail rhumb line but rather to hedge our bet by 4 degrees to the east. The bet is that if we sail east for the next 8-10 hours we will be able to fall off the 10-15 degrees we will need to in order to be able to continue to sail rather than heading straight for our destination and having to motor into the wind at an unsailable angle. It appears that our Oyster friend is choosing a more direct route now. Time will tell if the forecast is accurate enough for our hand to play out to victory. Of course they may well be sailing to Italy… but in my mind they are headed to the same marina in the slip right next to ours! Get the checkered flag ready One Two Many is in the home stretch!
Trivia will be later today.
06/10/2009, 36 17'N:03 58'W, 350 miles from Palma
2 days out I touted that I would have the boat on the dock at 0700 and we would be waiting in line for the fuel dock to open. I was expecting a line at the fuel dock in a small port called Barbate. This morning at 0655 we tied the second of our spring lines, which was our final line, to the fuel dock. The fuel dock opened at 0800 – ok an hour to kill so some time to clean. Just as the thought meandered through my brain I looked over to see the fuel dock guy unlocking the pumps. Que hora es? We asked the attendant. Ocho. Ocho? Si Ocho. Hot damn! On the dock at 0700 but it is really 0800 with a time change so the fuel dock is opening as we pulled up! We immediately began the refueling process. 45 minutes later we were back underway toward Gibraltar. Mojo baby!
Our last 24 hours heading into this refueling port was quite eventful, but only from an attention standpoint. The wind was very light so we were stuck motoring, but the closer we got the more ship traffic came at us. At the peak of it last night between 2100 and 2200 we had 12 – 14 targets on our radar screen for over 2 hours all less than 6 miles from us! Somehow I ended up with the exciting watch again… go figure. (although Bette had quite a fun one too) That watch went by in the blink of an eye, as you try to calculate trajectories and make the decision on how to alter course to avoid the massive ships. It was the day after the full moon so we got to watch the nearly full moon rise in bright orange! The higher in the sky it came the whiter it got until it sat overhead in a clear sky with just the right amount of luminescence that we could still see ships lights quite clearly but could also make out their outlines with ease and use the binoculars for targets up to 12 miles away. You could not write a better approach to this highly trafficked area.
For the 6 hours following the refueling we never dropped below 9kts of boat speed. The trip through the Straits was quick, calm, clear and quite delightful! We cruised through the narrowest part as the only boat in our vicinity. The shipping traffic was all well to our south inside the TSS. We made anywhere from 9kts to nearly 12 over ground and have not slowed down since. The day has been sunny and a bit hazy with little to no wind but the seas are calm as a lake – just glorious.
The forecast for the next 18 hours is very similar – very calm. However there is a clear line of where we are meant to get headwinds as much as 20-25 knots after that. We find ourselves in a familiar position of having the hammer down trying to beat this weather to the north so we can maintain our calm state or at least get a sailable angle for the final miles to Palma.
There is now a piece of paper taped to the wall in the salon with the words “Distance to RUM” scribbled in my best horrible penmanship. Just below these words is a 389.11nm. 40 hours at 8kts. Arriving just in time for happy hour at the sailor bar near the dock. Smooth sailing at its finest… karmic payback for weathering the storms with aplomb? Dumb luck? The perfect synergistic union of preparation and opportunity? Or maybe just enough of you put in a good word for us with the weather gods… Whatever it is – Mikey likes it!
Today’s Trivia: What product used the slogan “Mikey Likes It” in it’s advertising in mid 80’s?