BoDream News/ T-Minus 4 Days Til’ Departure!

I’m back in La Rochelle, France after a short holiday in London and Ireland. Had the great opportunity to meet up with the London Office of William Blair, and share some stories. Great folks there, and one fun story to share … a typical Rearick story!

The plan was to meet at HIX Restaurant in the SoHo district, and I arrived a bit late after a couple of twists and turns on the subway (called the “tube” in London.) I explained to the hostess that I was meeting a group for dinner and she, without any hesitation, pointed me to the room down the stairs. I walked down and into a room full of suits and ties, and figured I was in the right place. Though I didn’t recognize anyone, I heard talk in the background of financial market conditions, and so I relaxed, ordered a beer and began to circulate. After a few minutes of conversation with one group of guys … (of course, you can imagine I wasn’t really dressed the part) … I finally thought to ask if this was in fact, the William Blair party. After a good chuckle, we figured out I was at the wrong party, though curiously enough, this firm does business with William Blair – so all was good. I excused myself, thanked them for my beer and went in search of my party. When I arrived at the proper table, beer in hand, they all knew where I’d been, as they had watched me walk in and disappear down the stairs. Well, what good would a sailor be, if he couldn’t walk into a strange party, tell a good story and get a free beer?

In London, I got a chance to take in some of the high points, especially the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. What an interesting place to visit, complete with the famous Cutty Sark heself, outside “on the hard.” The Cutty Sark, a clipper ship of the tea trading days, which long held the speed record of 73 days for its outbound passage from London to Australia back in 1874.

Cutty Sark Clipper Ship 1874

From London, I took a train and then a ferry to Dublin and spent a couple of days drenching myself in Irish culture and music. Way too short a time to spend, but circumstances being what they are, it was all I had, and a bit was a whole lot better than none at all.

So, now I’m back in La Rochelle, where it’s still raining. Bodacious Dream has been drying out and being looked after by good friends Pat and Michelle of the Croix du Sud, who are also planning on competing in the Global Ocean Race as a double-handed team. I’ll be spending the next couple of days doing the last minute preparations necessary before leaving La Rochelle and France, and then sailing for home on Wednesday. Jobs will include provisioning, water, sorting and packing, weather routing and maintenance.

Fellow sailor with Bodacious Racing, John Hosking has been keeping track of the weather and providing routing guidance for the trip back. So far, it looks like a decent start to the trip, but after a week or so, it gets a bit confusing with a few lows building and moving into my desired path. As you may know, low pressure systems are typically the systems that bring stormy wind and rain. Finding a route between them that still sustains good winds is what we call routing. It will be interesting to see how the whole weather systems play out, as the typical Atlantic weather is somewhat mixed up at the moment. There is an old saying—“Sail south until the butter melts, and then head west with the tradewinds.”  The trade winds are steady winds that blow in consistent directions through the tropical zones. These winds blow from the East toward North America in this area of the Atlantic, and so provided good sailing for the old trading vessels like the Cutty Sark … hence the name Trade Winds!

Here’s what our computer routing programs look like to us.Navigation Routing Display

The black line is the course to the Azores, south west of France. The Red line is one route by the computer, the blue line another. They are determined by computer weather models. The various shades of color represent wind strengths … blues being lighter, greens to yellows being heavier. The wind strengths are represented by the “flag” type symbols. You can see that some have one “feather” on them, while others have one and a half or two. Each full feather is 10 knots of wind, a half is 5 knots.  So, a feather and a half is 15 knots, two feathers is 20 knots. If you think of it as the feather on the back of an arrow, that is the direction of the wind.

So, just a few more days here in France. This afternoon, since it’s Sunday and most of France takes Sundays off, I’m going to try to make some time to travel north to the seaside town of Les Sables-d’Olonne, where the Vendée Global Race is scheduled to begin on November 10th.

The Vendée Globe, begun in 1989, is the evolved version of the Golden Globe Race of 1968 when the first person, Robin Knox-Johnston, sailed his boat non-stop around the world in about 312 days. Nowadays, the race is filled with state-of-the-art, carbon fiber Open 60 sailing machines, each still manned by just one person, with the goal of racing around the world nonstop. The winners in this race typically take less than 90 days for the passage. The Vendée Globe, like the Global Ocean Race and the Velux 5 Oceans Race, are the premier solo world circumnavigation events.

There’s always a lot of discussion as to what would be harder … non-stop or stops in a circumnavigation. What would you think? Some say non-stop … some say stopping. With non-stop, once you build your lead, your strategy is just to stay ahead and not break anything. In the stopped version, you restart even at each port. Each leg then is a new race, and so you sail with a different strategy. Interesting question isn’t it? No doubt, 90 to 100 days, constantly racing your 60 foot boat is a great test of human endurance and fortitude. Check out progress on the Vendée Globe at www.vendeeglobe.org.

Well, enjoy your day. I’ll send out one more update before I depart on Wednesday. Then I’ll be relying again on my friends at Firm Solutions to help forward news of my passage to you through these newsletters, the BD website and Facebook. My plan is to send out news along the route through our onboard satellite communication system – hopefully!

- Dave

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