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Ocean Planet Vendée Globe Update:
Friday, December 17, 2004
Position 38 45S, 74 40E, @ 14:25 UT

The Washing Machine

Well, that could have been a lot worse. After a bit of buffeting, sloshing and nasty wind, we made it through the center of the depression that rolled over us from the northwest. As it approached, the wind cranked up to 40-45 and clocked to almost straight out of the north, then the barometer plummeted to 984.5 as the center went over. The wind rapidly backed to the southwest with the new waves bashing against the old ones from the north. Fortunately this happened fast enough that the waves didn’t have time to build up too big. So this storm was nothing like what poor Nick (Moloney on Skandia) went though a few days ago near the Kerguelen Islands.

I had slowed the boat as much as possible and really took it easy, which made a big difference. If we had gone faster we would have been in the storm much longer increasing the chances of trouble. The low is headed southeast so the boats to the south might have to watch out. It is intensifying, so it could get pretty bad.

One thing that made it hard to slow down is the relentless southern ocean current. When I was only sailing at 8 or 9 knots, the GPS showed us moving at 10! Even though I am quite far north, the current still has an effect here. It just so happens that this week’s subject on http://www.oceanplanet.org/ and www.bigelow.org/vendeeglobe is ocean temperature and currents. Have a look! With the prevailing winds howling out of the southwest, west, and northwest across the southern oceans, this drives the ocean surface to the east and the current virtually never stops.

In any case, I have put the mainsail back up, and have gone from the third to the second reef. Still not pushing at race pace, but will slowly increase the pressure as the sea state (hopefully) mellows out. Back to the races!

Be sure to check out yesterday’s Race Report by Brian Hancock – a Bruce Schwab exclusive!

Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet


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