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Ocean Planet/USA 05 Update from Bruce Schwab:
Wednesday, December 17, 2003


The OTHER Roaring Forties…

December in Maine

Much is made of the “Roaring 40’s” in the Southern Ocean, which must be transited while racing around the world. Yet here on solid ground and above 40 degrees latitude, the challenges I face for the Vendee Globe seem as daunting as those I faced at sea in the Around Alone.

The preparation for the Vendee Globe is endless. Even systems that are working perfectly well must be dismantled and gone over. Any other approach to this crazy dream is . . . REALLY crazy!

From servicing the water ballast system, rebedding of deck hardware, removing old solar panels (new higher output units coming from Solara), replacement of the radar (new unit from Nobeltec to allow overlay on charting software), general wiring and lights (both 12 & 24 volt systems), servicing BOTH primary and backup autopilots, moving the engine panel (it was getting soaked where it was), replacing the computer systems (we all know how fast they go out of date!), to all the structural modifications, weight saving, and improvements…..not to mention repainting, rigging upgrades (shorter boom), testing, tuning, and new sails….well, you get the idea. And, less than 11 months to go!

But, one can only do what one can do. Today I have a miserable cold, so I am taking a break from the yucky job inside of the bow to write this update and work on corporate presentations for sponsorship (perhaps even more important than working on the boat!). At least I feel that I’m doing something useful, even if I have to occasionally wipe off the snot that I sneeze onto my laptop. I know, that’s gross, but with the task ahead and the rotting pain in my head I certainly FEEL gross.

Yesterday, I had fun shoveling the snow to dig out the Ocean Planet “team car” (this pic is actually from a several days ago when the snow wasn’t very deep):

But, despite the weather in Maine’s own “Roaring Forties”, the Ocean Planet shop is getting finalized (courtesy of Portland Yacht Service and our volunteers) and more volunteer help is on the way. Thanks to Jonathan Libby, Scott Schmitz, Denise Preisser, and others for the help when they have been able to get away from their “real” lives!

Here are some shots of my progress in the bow, where I am replacing the bulkhead/chainplate/bowsprit housing integrated structure:

With the chainplate and center of the bulkhead removed:


and with the rest of the bulkhead, the sprit housing, and the bases of our original bowsprit removed (the original was replaced by our present unstayed Forespar composites sprit before leaving the Bay Area….):


I won’t bore you with the details on how the new set-up will save about 50 lbs, but will send pics as it comes together. The plan is to shave a good 500 lbs off of the boat, systems, and rigging this winter! A lot of work, but I JUST GOTTA DO IT. Lighter is faster and faster is better.

And some sleep will be good too. Thanks to all of Ocean Planet’s supporters! Did I mention that there’s only a couple weeks left to make a tax-deductible donation for 2003?


Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet


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