Round Britain and Ireland Race – Blog Tuesday 21st August – Day 10
Chocolate, play dough and the search for wind…
Port watch here reporting on the latest news from EH01. The main story tonight is the day has finally arrived when the snack drawer has been replenished. Yay and double yay! Needless to say all the “good” stuff (chocolate and crisps) went early on last week as we battled the elements and the past few days we have been snacking on healthy things like mango and raisins, and our fruit locker of apples and oranges (nutritious but a bit boring!). But now the new chocolate, biscuits and crisps have been “released” to the crew and there was nearly an inter-watch mutiny over a bag of cadbury dairy milk giant buttons!!
In non food related news, it has been an interesting few days of sailing; conditions have been tough but in a very different way from those we experienced towards the end of last week. Sunday’s light winds were welcome respite after the strong winds at the top of the course but they brought their own challenges. Navigating North Sea oil installations (which were both imposing and stunning) with a boat under spinnaker in light winds made for a tricky first few hours of night sailing as the 500m exclusion zones around the installations (and the harsh penalties for infringing those zones) meant that we had to be extra careful of our gybe angles and helming. It was a “two watch” night for Port watch on Sunday, and we thought our second watch would be “plain sailing”….we were wrong!! In the tricky light winds at three o clock in the morning we managed to get some quite spectacular spinnaker “wraps” around the forestay. At one point it looked like we were going to have send Julian (the FM) up to release the halyard. Luckily for us, with some skillful “sail whispering” by Gareth and helming by Julian, we got the wraps out to get under way again.
Monday was a frustrating day for all aboard EH01. The wind vanished and we had to bob around trying to find breeze lines on the water. Port watch had afternoon watch (12- 6) and as we waited for the wind to appear the crew found various ways to pass the time including fishing off the back of boat and taking apart the cooker to clean it (which is a sign of just how bored some crew were!) . We all breathed a collective sigh of relief when around 7pm last night we managed to get under way (largely on apparent wind) and could start counting down the miles to the next way point.
Today (Tuesday) has seen us cross back into English waters and we are now sailing down the East Coast towards our next mark off Norfolk. Today’s wind has been fairly fickle: the weather files suggested that we would encounter another wind hole off the top of England which caused collective groans from the crew. No one on board wanted to spend another day like Monday and with that in mind, we spent the morning trimming the sails carefully and vigilantly monitoring crew position on the “high side” (some members of the crew more militantly than others!) all in the hope that we could maintain our boat speed. Unfortunately late in the afternoon we “hit” the wind hole and had another few hours of slow progress but that gave the starboard watch the opportunity to clean the decks. So far (luckily) that hole has been “short lived” and we are back under way.
The repairs to the main and the pole are holding well and all aboard are well.On Sunday, the crew were surprised by “halfway there” party bags some of which contained play-doh and various members of the crew have been modelling bears, elephants and other animals from the play-doh when sat at the nav station. Special mention goes to FM Julian’s recreation of our course, complete with outlying islands, wind bars and a model EHO1. Picture to follow.
In terms of the fleet, we are mindful that we are “in the middle; we are chasing down those boats which overtook us on Saturday and in turn the boats behind us are chasing us. In short, its all still to play for (except the giant buttons which Port Watch are currently enjoying).