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Ocean Planet Vendée Globe Update:
Friday January 7, 2005
Position 50 35S, 149 19E/W, @ 16:10 UT

More Work to do…

Just what we needed, more stuff to fix.

The wind was not blowing that hard yesterday and last night, but in the frequent rain squalls there were big shifts and gusts. After being a bit under canvassed often during the day, last night I hoisted the main to the first reef from the second.

As luck would have it, a few hours later a violent squall snuck up on us while I was trying to get a nap. This particular squall saw its chance to inflict some trouble and gusted to well over 30kts. This was a lot more than the gradient wind of about 18-20kts, which still should normally not be huge problem, but it looked like one of my “bright ideas” had not been so bright.

If you remember, a few weeks ago I had to crawl out to the tip of the boom to hand sew on reinforcement spectra webbing at the second reef clew. Well, that had been holding, but my assumption that the others were fine was evidently not true.

At the height of the squall there was a loud BANG, and I knew something had broken. After jumping in my gear and tumbling into the cockpit, I could instantly see that the first reef clew webbing had been severed like the second reef clew was. Only this time the clew reef line cut completely through. My idea that the spectra reef line could go directly though the reef clew webbing had been proven wrong for the second time.

So, before we can use the first reef again, I need to spend some time at the end of the boom stitching on webbing. I also need to add an Equiplite block like I did to the second reef which has not had a problem since. With hindsight, I can’t believe that I cut corners by not putting the Equiplite blocks on there to start with.

Here’s the main this morning in the second reef:

In the meantime, Conrad is slightly ahead and to the south of us. We are sailing at pretty much the same speed, but I am going north which is slightly less direct, giving him better VMG. This is intentional since being a bit more north should be a help when the storm and the big northerly blasts us in a couple of days. We will have a really hard short beat then 30-35kts on the beam which will likely be much better for Hellomoto than us. But, if we get some leverage to the north so we ease off sooner, then we can minimize our losses until the wind returns to the westerlies.

Been a long night and I need a nap! But first, here is a good southern ocean sunrise:

Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet


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