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Ocean Planet Vendée Globe Update:
Tuesday, December 7, 2004
Position 40 40S, 18 32E, @ 10:28 UT

The Agulhas Avoided…

(About 355 miles directly south of the Cape of Good Hope and the southern tip of Africa)

Well, a few days ago we were pummelled by the nastiest storm I can remember, and we just spent most of last night stuck in a “Bozo Zone” of no wind! All this morning, we are supposed to be sailing in 15-20kt WNW winds, but have been stumbling along in light and variable junk instead. Oh well, at least NOW we seem to be on the go.

So I may need a new “Mojo,” but at least yesterday it was very nice sailing in the sun. Also, with our position to the west we have managed to avoid the notorious Agulhas current which runs near the Cape of Good Hope. In fact, nearly all day yesterday we had a very helpful easterly current of 1-2.5 knots! This means we are officially entering the Southern Ocean, and the Southern Ocean current. Another sure sign is that we have an albatross or two following us every day now. I had almost forgotten how impressive these huge birds are. I think it is a good thing that they keep us company.

A few weeks ago (if you were paying attention), you may have learned a bit about the infamous Gulf Stream. Now, this week on http://www.oceanplanet.org/, follow the links to Bigelow Laboratories and check out the information on the Agulhas current, an often very treacherous area of water to cross. I’m rather glad we missed it!

Soon the sailing will be cold, fast, and endless. I am working to get south enough to to have good westerlies for the next few days. It looks like a high pressure zone could be a brief problem after that, but we’ll sort that out as it approaches.

The boat feels ready, and I am looking around carefully for things to watch. Yesterday I discovered that our inside life raft (we have two, one inside and one outside) had worked its way loose from its lashings. It had slid up against the aft compartment door so I had to push pretty hard to shove it out of the way to get in. Thankfully it did not slide into the autopilots. Now I have it firmly relashed into place so it won’t go on any more adventures.

We have a lot of great gear on Ocean Planet, and I have to say that among my favorites is our fantastic rigging connectors and hardware from Equiplite. I use and often abuse Equiplite parts all over the boat, including some really nifty custom flying swivels for our furling jibs and gennikers. These saved a lot of weight aloft and have been working flawlessly. Yesterday I was raising the yankee/reacher and took this shot of the upper halyard swivel before I started hoisting:

I also use standard Equiplite connecters on all of my sheet leads, like the working jib clew in the pic below. Also, note that “D” ring from the clew is removed and a webbing loop is used instead which is much lighter (and softer). The end result is a lighter sail clew that is less likely to smash things, like my head!


Thanks to Don Curchod of Equiplite for the great gear!

Gotta go…in the last hour the wind has pooped out again…boom slatting!

Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet


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