QuĂ©bec to St-Malo – BD Update – Day 12

Good evening all!!

It’s about the equivalent of 11 pm here. The weather continues to be grey, dark, damp and rainy….typical North Atlantic conditions!! Mark’s up driving… back and forth with the waves and wind. I’ve been tending to much needed regular maintenance onboard. We switch off every hour or so and I give him a break. Everything below and above is wet. We probably evacuate about 15 gallons of water every shift. The constant flow of waves over the deck run off the stern, some of which then makes its way through a compromised gasket on the stern hatch. The routine at the end of my watch is to switch crew, then I climb back there, scoop water into a bucket and then it’s pumped by one of the others on deck out the boat. About 4 buckets a watch – messy, clumsy and unfortunate work. We’ve had a number of other compromises as well, but are making the best of these situations. We continue to push the boat and ourselves toward France – hoping to gain position in the standings too. Ireland’s off our port bow about 100 miles and St. Malo about 400. We’re hoping the wind continues with us to the finish and some much needed sanitizing!!! A day of sunshine and nice winds would be a real change of pace. We’ve been stuck with the low pressure system for 7 or so days…which has made for a fast passage, but a change of pace would be nice.

Hope to be in France in a few days!!

- Dave

QuĂ©bec to St-Malo – BD Update – Day 12

Last night will not be forgotten quickly!!!!

Before I get to that, we’re sailing fast under 2 reefs and the solent almost straight at the barn in 30 to 35 knots of wind, looking for it to slowly diminish as we get closer. Last night came with the forecast that the wind would build to the mid-30s and then fall slowly back to where it is now.

The boat had been sailing with the code 5 and a reefed main for the last 24 hours or so. We were all pretty comfortable with it, knowing that it’ll take 40 knots and that there was good full moon visibility. Emma and I started our watch at 8 UT with her driving. After an hour or so, I took over and was having a great time, working hard and loving the speed, top recorded was 24.9 knots.

The seas began to build into steep mountains in pretty short order. At one point, I stuck a wave and had a foot of green water flow from front to back washing my legs out from under me. Being clipped in, I didn’t move and simply played superman as the water passed under. We had a good laugh over that.

An hour or so later, I had broached once, but recovered it quickly. Some time later, a massive wave hit us; I would guess it was 20 ft from top to bottom. I was ready and square to it when it hit. With a ride like an elevator, the stern was picked skyward and the bow dropped down the face of the wave – not fun like take off and go fast; it was 50 degrees flaps down and submarine!!! Stuck the bow in the water up to at least the mast and kicked the stern over the top, the boat just hung there for a moment until it kicked to the side and we needless to say WIPED OUT! The sail flogged violently with no speed on and tore, Emma, quickly went to the bow as Mark and Dave came up on deck. The sail wrapped on the forestay a handful of times, but after about 20 minutes of wrestling with it, we had it down. This seemed like a very long time to us, great job was done by all in controlling the situation. If you can see the kink in our track last night that was during this procedure, and the solent up, other than the torn sail, no worse for wear.

Emma and I went down for some much needed rest. About an hour later, with the boat going well, I was cold and decided I had to get up to grab a fleece. Just as I was climbing out of the pipe birth feet first, looking backward, the bow fell down and stabbed into a wave stopping everything but me it in its tracks. I was launched forward 12 ft into the forward bulk head, head-first, hitting the back of my head just below my occipital process. Bo Dream’s pretty yellow color was now getting highlights of red. I sat for a minute collecting myself and was surprised I wasn’t in worse shape. I opened the door to Mark and all he said was, who’s bleeding, I tilted my head down and he said, “All you need now is two eyes back there and you’ll have a face.” The gash is just below the prominent bump I have back there, so I would guess it acts as a nose.

Anyway I stopped the bleeding and laid down for a bit. Getting up to go on watch I found a deep bruise on my thigh and head pounding, but for what it’s worth, not too bad.

600 or so miles to go, France – here we come.

- Matt

QuĂ©bec to St-Malo – BD Update – Day 11

Drysuits are awesome, I started putting the drysuit on during my watch about 7 days ago, still for the most part dry inside. 2 layers on the bottom, 3 on the top, drysuit to cover. Pretty simple, remove, and repeat every 4 hours. Mark has been doing the same. Dave and Emma have had a hard time dealing with the latex gaskets around the wrists and neck; it must be that we are just used to them from the years of sailing the multihull. Right now I wouldn’t be nearly as happy without it. Right now, it’s my best friend.

Speaking of friends, I started noticing a fly in the cabin 8 days ago, he/ or she is still with us. Is it fair to say we’re sailing with 5? I don’t dare swat him at this point, during the days I don’t see much of him/ or her, but at night she hangs out on the Zeus screen, that is our navigation panel. Two nights ago, I had to get up because I thought theer was a ship nearby on the AIS, turns out it was just fly hanging out.

Other boats, none for the last 7 days, not even a sign of life except for the plastic bottle I saw yesterday. You could easily think we’re the only one’s on the planet right now.

- Matt

Québec to St-Malo – BD Update – Day 11

Hello All!!!

Holy smokes, what a ride!! While our position in the fleet leaves something to be desired, this marvelous experience has given us much more than we expected. We’ve been attached to a low pressure weather/wind system since we exited the St. Lawrence area and headed to open ocean….winds have been mostly in the 20′s and the boat speeds have all been teens and occasionally into the 20′s with extended surfing on waves. With each ride on a wave, comes a gush….well more like a flush of water that clears out the cockpit of anything and at night leaves phosphorescent-like lightning bugs swirling around your hands and feet. Tonight we were blessed with a patch of clear sky and the nearly full moon shone down on us….very uplifting but sure would have been nice for it to have been sunshine. We haven’t had any since heading out across the open waters of the North Atlantic.

We’re having fun clicking off 50 plus miles every 4 hour watch giving us 300 mile days….with presently something like 807.6 miles to go till we reach the entrance to the English Channel. Boy, that’s a lot of water!! From there we’ll have another 150 or more miles to St-Malo. We’ve learned a lot and been humbled by the sea once again, but that’s why we sail. One can only hope to be respected by the sea in return, and allowed to pass thru it.

Thanks for following and keeping up with us. We’re doing our best and hoping to catch up to a few in front of us before the finish. Regardless, its been a grand adventure!! Back on deck to get wet now, and taught a few more lessons by the sea.

- Dave

Québec to St-Malo – BD Update – Day 10

I just caught a ballyhoo, got him on the deck and slowly washed him from the front to the cockpit and out the back. Has to be a pretty unlucky fish in this giant ocean to have that happen. Then again, how often does a ballyhoo get the opportunity to sail a class 40?

Been pretty rough with wind, reaching conditions so that the boat healed over 20 degrees; virtually impossible to hit the correct letter on the keyboard.

Right about at the 1000 miles-to-go stage; our routine is pretty well-ingrained. Dave and Mark have been paired together. Being the same age, they have had a fair bit to to chat about – and Emma and I have been working together. We don’t seem to have a whole lot in common other than sailing this cool boat. Usually one of the pair will be steering, and the other sits under the doghouse ready to go if anything needs to be done. I usually just look out the back of the boat, Emma reads and listens to her iPod, I think she’s close to finishing her second book.

We have all taken on the other little jobs that need to be done while racing. I do the weather and computer stuff, Dave and Emma have been doing the thankless job of getting water out of the boat and Mark does more than his share of driving.

Tonight’s a clear beautiful moon-filled night; can’t ask for better or more beautiful conditions.

Looking for an opportunity to catch a few boats, but these reaching conditions make it difficult to move up.

Sleep well,

-Matt