Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Day 10 Galapagos to Marquesis - Not Racing, Just Going Fast

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to our friend Blake. Bristol Rose was approaching the harbour one fine afternoon in St. Martin when Slow Mocean pulled out all the stops to get there first. Blake's friend was confused, "Why the rush? There's no race". Blake's retort: "Are there two boats out here? Then it's a race." We're not trying to run a race against anyone out here but we do get a kick out of "tweaking" to get the best out of our boat.
We keep an hourly log where we record information that helps us navigate our way and check the performance of the boat. We record our progress on paper charts as well as using the electronic navigational aids. Robert does the math, comparing this 24 hours performance with the last, estimating our ETA at the next anchorage, making course adjustments based on GRIB files, etc.
Each boat out here is different so it's hardly fair to compare performance (boat or crew) in absence of handicaps. Now if there was another Shannon 43 making the passage, those competitive instincts might be sharpened and things could get really interesting.
On this passage Bristol Rose has exceeded all her previous performances. A boat's length at the water line dictates maximum hull speed. Although BR is 43 feet in length overall, her water line is only 36' 9" That means her hull speed is about 8 knots. She's packed to the gills with equipment and provisions but in our favour on this Galapagos to Marquesas run so far we still have at least a 1 knot current assisting our speed over ground. We never expected to do 200 nautical miles in a 24 hour period but we've done it.
Going fast in any vehicle can be exhilarating. Going fast in a vehicle for 24 hours is a test of stamina. Going fast in a sail boat which also happens to be your home adds a few additional challenges and considerations, not least of all, crew comfort and safety. The past week's comfort level is on par with the thrill of being on a roller coaster but not being able to get off.
We heard that boats who started a few days after us had to motor-sail due to too little wind! We have not had that problem. Boats between us and the Marquesas have reported conditions similar to ours. During the first 8 days of the passage we've experienced winds from 15 to 25 knots and up to 35 during squalls. We've had only rare breaks in the sloppy seas, making the ride less than comfortable. Cooking and taking care of daily tasks is quite a challenge. There's little chance of getting any promised projects completed. Better to find a "comfy" spot to sleep or read.
Just in the past 36 hours the sea conditions have improved a little and this morning the winds have become lighter. That's going to put a dint in our average speed for the passage but we can enjoy a more relaxed pace with these more friendly wind and sea conditions. Sunrise was a picture and for a change we could lounge comfortably in the cockpit with coffee in hand, look out across the blue Pacific and declare, "This is quite nice!"
It's an exhilarating ride. It's also quite tiring but given the choice of a 20 day passage or a 30 passage, there's no contest. We want to go as fast as possible. Our race is against the calendar. If we can have the 15 to 20 knot winds along with an organized sea with longer intervals between waves we'll be really happy. We can't wait to get to those friendly islands of the Marquesas.
Posted via SSB radio
5 02.623 S
117 17.331 W

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