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GryphonSolo2: Bean bags, fishing vessels & becalmed

by Joe Harris, GryphonSolo2 14 Jun 19:28 BST
GryphonSolo2 © Joe Harris

We are on Day 3 of the Prologue Race from Lorient, France to Tangier, Morocco and we are absolutely flat-ass becalmed for the third or fourth time since we rounded Cape Finisterre. 3 knots of wind - zero boat speed.

We are also in the shipping lanes so numerous cargo ships and tankers pass us by and I can just hear the guys in the bridge saying "WTF are those guys doing bobbing around out here"? It is an excellent question. Not sure I have a great answer. Light air and being becalmed is part of offshore sailboat racing for sure, but it is probably my least favorite part.

So that led me to examine some of the things I do appreciate about this particular race:

  1. The start was fun but when we cleared away from the mainland we had a pack of 6 Class 40's close together all amped up and moving at 13k down the race course and that was very cool. These boats do fly.

  2. We crossed the Bay of Biscay in record time. Downwind, very fast and fun sailing.

  3. Moving to the more mundane, I really like the padded knees in my new North foul weather gear. We are on our knees on the foredeck a lot and the padding is huge.

  4. My hands have gotten increasingly raw from handling wet rope so my sailing gloves have become my new best friend.

  5. Roger and I celebrate Happy Hour each day around 6:00 and it is a salami and cheese Italian festival with a beer and good conversation. My favorite time of day.

  6. For food this leg, my sister Wendie went shopping and a couple of items stand out - instant cappuccino and Raman noodles. Thank you Wendie!

  7. We have a "Fat Boy" bean bag that is 6' long and 4' wide that is the most comfortable thing to sleep on in the world when piled on top of sails on the windward side of our main cabin. We give thanks to the bean bag gods daily.
A few moments we could have lived without:
  1. A Spanish fishing vessel very nearly ran us over two night ago. Roger was on the VHF radio with him speaking Spanish and telling him we had limited maneuverability under a spinnaker and he refused to change course. At the last minute, when he was within 50 yards of running us over, we flashed a light at him and he swerved to his right to avoid a certain collision. It was very scary and the guy was either a total asshole or he really didn't see us - I'm not sure which.

  2. Our A5 tack lashing chafed through and the sail went up the cable and could not be furled. Messed us up badly as we were not confident to put up another flying downwind sail in a 25K building breeze and Whiskey Jack sailed right by us north of Finisterre. Suck pill.

  3. When a 40-knot gust and huge wave came together on GS2, the Karver shiv block under our staysail further exploded with a sound that made me think we had dropped the rig. I came on deck to find the furling unit flying around the foredeck as well as the staysail. Very scary situation. Roger and I corralled it and dropped it to the deck without incident but it could have been way worse. Somewhat unbelievably we found a shackle to replace the broken Karver part and have the sail and furling gear ready for use again.

So that's it for today from the coast of Portugal approaching Lisbon about 100 miles ahead. More banging and slapping around I guess. Can't wait to pick up some wind and get going again.

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