Home > Journals > 2004 – 2005: Vendée Globe

Ocean Planet Vendée Globe Update:
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Position 38 49S, 69 13E, @ 10:45 UT

Here it comes…

Ok, bring it on!

Although I hoped today’s weather files would say otherwise, an intense low pressure trough is bearing down on us with no escape route to the north or south. The high winds will be bad enough, but the real problem will be the seas generated by the rapidly changing wind direction as the winds circle around the low as it goes by.

First with northerlies up to 40kts or more (the Vendee weather bulletin predicts up to 55 in some areas), then the winds back rapidly around to the southwest. The cross seas could easily be the worst that I have ever been in, and I’m not looking forward to it.

We can’t outrun it and it looks like the darn thing will intensify directly in our path tomorrow. So we are in no particular hurry except to get it over with and hope for some fast sailing conditions after it moves on. Looking past tomorrow, our north latitude will actually be a good thing as solid 40kt winds are predicted to the south of where we will be. The wind direction that fills in should be a good direction for a reasonable heading to get us back south at a good speed.

This is all assuming that we don’t break anything in the giant washing machine tomorrow. To that end, I have spent the day preparing for rough weather. The Reacher has been rolled up, lowered and stowed below, and the mainsail lowered and checked then rehoisted to the third reef. I was going to go with the staysail but decided now is as good a time as any to use our storm jib (for the first time!). The big wind isn’t here yet, so you can call me a sissy, but the storm jib is up and ready:


Its first test could be a good one. Behind us things look a lot different than looking forward:


The barometer is dropping at an increasing rate which is a sign that confirms what is coming.

My plan is to drop the main altogether if it gets too windy or if we need to slow down in the cross seas. It could be difficult as when it’s real windy the sail doesn’t like to come down. I guess that’s about the only time where the lightweight but tough Cuben Fiber sailcloth in the sail could be heavier! But, if I have to, I will rig a tackle or something with a hook that will help.

It is starting to rain outside now after two days of sun. What bothers me the most about a storm like this is that there is no sure way to know exactly where it will go or how strong it will get. Computer generated weather files have a hard time predicting the position of fast moving fronts, and that’s all we really have to go on.

Oh well, no one ever said this would be easy. Hopefully after this passes by we can get back to racing and have decent conditions for it.

Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet


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