can we help
+44(0)1983 296060
+1 757-788-8872
tell me moreJoin a rally


Scarlet Oyster - ARC de Triomph?

Hi All,

Well, its been a busy couple of days on the good ship Scarlet, my boring routine of sailing, stargazing, and great food was made more interesting yesterday with the information that the aft head had blocked itself!

It seemed that a perfect storm of under flushing, rich diet, a bit of calcium build up combined with wet wipe was more than the pipework was able to pass… If there is a nice clean and tidy way of dismantling blocked full pipework at sea in a large swell i have yet to perfect it, not a pleasant way to spend a hot afternoon i can assure you! I am pleased to report however all ‘contamination’ was contained and after removing all pipework and cleaning and descaling every part, with a couple of new one way valves the aft head is now fragrant and very efficient.

In other news we have had a couple of fast and furious nights sailing, the moon that was pretty much with us all night on the first night at sea has been progressively more tardy each successive night on its appearance, and for the last 2 nights it hasn’t bothered showing up at all, wind speeds have a bit of creeping up after dark and 2 nights ago we were treated to anything from 17-27kn of wind, providing speeds of up to 16knots as we surfed into an inky black abyss, with only a faint horizon and splashes of green bio-luminescence to brighten things up. Jules and i have been sharing the driving with the spinnaker up in these conditions, with frequent cups of coffee, i must admit it has not been too bad, and it is quite satisfying recording average speeds approaching 10knots hour upon hour. There are the odd waves that seem to have been sent our way to trip us up, but fortunately we have not had any miss haps thus far!

Our standard setting while sailing with the spinnaker on the ARC is to be prepared at all times to take it down, with a take down line rigged over the boom so we can haul the sail down and into the boat without crew needing to venture past the mast. The halyard is always flaked neatly and secured on a winch, and other sheets and guys are kept in order so that in only a moments notice we can get the sail off and restore more manageable handling if a squall or unexpected increase in wind arises. We have a wind limit of 30knots where we trigger a drop, too many times in the past bravado takes over and i have made the call ‘its ok i’ve got it!’, only to be followed by a large bang seconds later as the spinnaker explodes, old age has caught up with me and 2 times on this race we have made the call to drop, moments later the wind drops making the decision look the wrong one, but who knows where the actual limit is and it is much better to have to re wool a kite than have to rebuild it!

A key reason for pushing hard at times is that it would appear we are still leading the race division overall, whilst a class win is nice, an overall win is nicer! The Kid sailed a good race with hugely impressive speeds, however the dead running conditions forced them to sail some significant extra distance opening the door just a crack for an old lady like Scarlet to have a chance of the overall trophy. The finished yesterday, we do not have the exact time but estimate they finished after 1630UT, some calculations show that we must finish before 1720UT on Sunday if we are to win, currently we are predicting a finish around 1000UT, so it looks promising!

The routine onboard has become easier day by day and i get the sense most crew could carry on for much longer, however i think they will all be very pleased to have a rum and a bed that does not move around constantly!

We have only one more precooked frozen meal, which we will have tonight, it is thai green chicken curry, one of my favourites, i fear the others feel similarly so doubt i will get seconds! Our fresh food has just been exhausted, except for some oranges and apples, our last dinner tomorrow may have to come from tins, but others out here will have been on tinned food since a week ago so I am sure we will manage, a decent meal ashore on Sunday awaits us.

One slight annoyance is the Sargossa weed, which has become denser and denser every year, this year seemed better till 2 days ago, today we are sailing past weed mats larger than some islands I have visited in the caribbean. this morning before first light Jules alerted me to an issue with the steering… We suspected weed, but as it was dark we could not be sure, so we emptied the aft locker and investigated, the steering quadrant and cables looked perfect, but i could see the rudder stock vibrating. A check with a go pro at first light revealed the entire rudder was decorated in weed. We dropped the spinnaker and stopped the boat so i could pop in and clear the weed, most fell off as the boat stopped, so it seems that if we get more we can just stop the boat for a few second to clear, although with a spinnaker up it is a bit of a pain.

I expect this weed would have slowed others including the Kid more, as they have an upright fin keel and 2 rudders to find weed with, so we should not complain too much!

Tonight the weather could turn interesting with a weather front passing over from the North, this is likely to bring heavy rain and squall conditions, we have avoided all significant rain so far, largely due to my trusted shore based weather router Charlie Carlow, today we are discussing finding the path of least resistance through this front, the next 20hrs will show how successful or otherwise this plan is! Without a proper rain squall it does not feel we have earned our passage so its not too unfortunate a situation really! Our calculations show if we can average just 7.2kn or more to the finish we will be in time, so prudence will be the overriding factor when managing the forecast conditions tonight

Though our clock says 1530, the truth is that it is exactly mid day here, the sun is seriously hot, hence i have hid away to write this! I should probably do my share on deck so time for the suncream and big hat!

Tomorrow should be our last full day at sea, I will encourage someone else to write something!

Team Scarlet; Al, Ian, Deanna, Kelsey, Zoli, Randal, Jules and me

Previous | Next