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Ocean Planet Vendée Globe Update:
Monday, December 13, 2004
Position 42 25S, 54 13E, @ 13:57 UT

Days at the Office

As the albatrosses and other birds that accompany Ocean Planet can attest to, we have been sailing very conservatively over the weekend. However, during this morning’s sked (from 0330 to 0900 UT), I put the pedal down for a while as the sea state wasn’t so bad. Broad reaching in about 20-25 kts of wind, we flew the yankee (aka the heavy reacher), the working jib (as a staysail), and a double reefed main.

The speed was fun as we did a steady 15-17 kts with bursts up to 22 (from the GPS). It was pleasing to see that for the period OP put out the fastest speed of the boats in the area. But, it definitely felt like I was pushing, and I started feeling that it was a bit reckless and I wasn’t going with the game plan. Perhaps it’s the keel shrieking, or suspicion about the pilot, my sewing on the second reef (see below), or just the herky jerky motion of high speed, but it just didn’t feel right. As usual, I stood in the vestibule in my gear watching the boat and instruments carefully, thinking about all the pros and cons for a good hour or more before I finally rolled up the yankee. My guess is that Patrice will have pulled away on the following sked, but oh well, good for him.

On Saturday (or was it yesterday?), I spent a few hours going extra slow while out on the end of the boom sewing additional webbing reinforcement on the second reef clew webbing. Apparently in the days beforehand I had left a few inches too much slack in the second reef outhaul line which gave the clew some room to work. As I have the spectra reef lines running directly through the reef webbing, it needs to be quite tight to make the load static and not have the line sawing on the webbing. I am such a fanatic about light weight that I use this spectra line/spectra webbing technique (sans a block of any kind) on many places on the boat, but only where the load is supposed to be static. That is, that it doesn’t move under load, just every now and then when adjusted. This system has been working great all over, but apparently I blew it on the second reef and the line sawed almost all the way through the webbing.

The good news is that my sewing job is holding, and I shot some entertaining video footage from our radar tower remote camera of me clinging and sewing and cursing the waves while on the end of the boom. We don’t have a good way to send video off the boat, so you’ll have to wait for the movie to come out….;-)

If you have been following the various boat’s routes, you will have noted our rather northerly track. There is a high pressure ridge starting to sweep through tonight that will create a bit of a “bozo zone” of low wind. Those further south (like Joe Seeten and possibly Patrice C.) will probably jibe to starboard and try to stay in front of the ridge, but it didn’t look like that would work for me. So I’m hoping to split the difference between the ridge and the high pressure to the north, hoping that the two do not merge and trap us. But hey, even if it does I’ll be warmer than the guys (and gals) down south….har!

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time at the office:


and in our luxurious kitchen: 


I’m putting some thought into what flavor of freeze-dried concoction I might create for dinner. Let’s hope I can make it interesting… 

Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet


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