Sanya - 20161201 Sanya
2016-12-1 14.30 UTC
TEAM SANYA VO70
Optimistic in my last blog, we were a bit further away from Saint Lucia than I thought. During the whole night and day (29th) we keep very light winds. Pushing hard to keep the speed around 0.5 knots above the wind speed and keep going. We heard the position news that the Trifork will probably finish today. This was a bit of a bummer, but the third place is still looking strong at this moment in time. We will keep pushing. Sinterklaas came by to fill the shoes of some of the crew. For some reason the love life of some of the crew was encouraged by the Sint. We had a second trip evaluation, some beautiful words, as the atmosphere is really good on board, and everybody is really happy. There is time during the night for some emotional and philosophical conversations as the social layers are starting to disappear and the light winds make it easy to have long conversations. I always compare offshore sailing socially a bit to an onion. Slowly layer by layer people get stripped of
their normal social pretence and behaviour and people are starting to show their real self.
On the 30th by the second daywatch the wind is slowly filling in a bit. We are cleaning up and stowing everything, as we all hope to get some more wind (20 to 25 knots) early next day to really push the SANYA to the finish. There are some dreams all around of cold finish beers and rum bars. With the slow winds, boredom is starting to break in, which also breaks a bit of the concentration on pushing the boat to keep on going at good speeds. The promised winds from the north seem much less during the night and we are still in light weather. We keep pushing, but it feels bad. By daybreak and with the next position evaluation this seems to become true. We are now fourth and we have diverted away too much from the rump line. The grib files this trip seem shaky at best and we probably should have kept more to the rumpline, as did Trifork and Rambler. We will probably win the price for the most sailed miles, which is definitely not the third place we had hoped for until this moment.
During the morning of the 30st the winds finally pick up a bit, but still less than the promised 20 to 25 knots. We are now in 15knots of breeze with the masthead zero and the J4 up. The wind slowly gaining a bit of pressure. Around the noon watch switch our bad luck streak continues and the (fixed) masthead blows up, the full top rips open on a seem. We change to the A3 in a matter of minutes to continue towards Saint Lucia, but this dampens the spirits quite a bit. It is unrepairable and we have lost one important sail and the third place today. This also means we will probably not be making Saint Lucia in time for some of the people on board to get back in time for Sinterklaas with their kids. We continue until sunset with the A3. At exactly the moment the sun is set, the clocks stop working again, as if they know what the hardest moment will be. Big showers head towards us and we decide to take down the A3 and set up the FRO for the night, as this is much less risky. We
don't wanna loose another sail. And without any indication of windshifts, it will be another hard night for the drivers. Showers start hitting for hours on end, as if the heavens are pouring out their tears for us. After 5 hours of rain with loads of windshifts and wind speeds from 2 to 28 knots, most are soaking wet and the glamour is quite gone. We have added a new manoeuvre to our gamma, we actually did a 360 with a FRO without tacking or gybing, very special indeed. We try the clocks again to gain some more insight into the windshifts, but alas, as the heading shows 810 degrees, this seems hopeless. The drivers job will again be a two-men job for the whole night, one person driving with an old fashioned compass, while the other is watching the windex for the shifts and calling if you are too high or too low on your course. And the whole night is pitch dark again. I have never been on a trip with so many dark nights without any visible stars or moon. At sun up (dec 1st)
we change back to the A3 to continue towards Saint Lucia, and still in light winds. Out boat speed averages around 10 to 12 knots. I think everybody is looking forward towards the final day, but depending on the wind, it will probably take another 35 hours to reach Saint Lucia for the final 350 miles we are looking at now. And worst of all the coffee is out on board. This is really bad, and there were some mutiny calls towards the captain to compensate for the loss of coffee. We will see what today brings. I think overall we are disappointed that we never had the promised strong winds from the north, for which we positioned us and that this has cost us the third place. But we are sailing, we are gaining on the finish and the weather by day is beautiful and the ocean is endless. Life still is beautiful on a VO70.
OBR a.i. Mariette Koekoek