Saturday May 19th
We are well into the C2B and so far, it has been kinda interesting!
Charleston and the tall ship fleet gave us a great send off from the inner harbor in a 10 knot northerly which made the first mile of the race down wind. With a conservative start and the reaching gennaker up (as there was no time to make sail changes at the first mark) we slowly picked our way through the fleet by sailing some pretty hot angles. In order to get out of Charleston harbor you have to make a couple of big turns and then run down the shipping channel for a few miles. So we rounded the first mark and came up onto a tight reach with the new weapon in the Gryphon Solo arsenal, a new Code Zero sail. By this time we were looking forward to the open water and some winds out of the North so we could reach off, but first we had to get by a bloody great big freighter coming down the channel and he forced us hard on the wind in the narrow channel!!
Unfortunately, by this time the northerly was shutting down and the Easterly wind was coming in- right on the kisser. We were expecting a Northerly breeze from the weather forecast that would allow us to negotiate the strong currents of the Gulf Stream, which sweeps up the U.S. Eastern seaboard close to the South Carolina shore. The easterly wind direction caused us to re-think our original rhumb line strategy and head off to the south and let Gryphon Solo beat feet to the south of the first feature and bury ourselves in the main northerly flow of the Stream to make northing as the wind clocks to the NW by Saturday. So there is a big ???? as to how this will play out so watch this space.
So as i write and the sun goes down Hank and Jeff are on deck pushing the red rocket east, the wind has backed to 045, at 9's + boat speed.
Sunday May 20th
As I am tapping away on the key board the sun is just comming up on Sunday morning. We had a visit from the first Bermuda longtail and Gryphon Solo is making 10.5 kts and is pointed at Bermuda. Wahoo!!!!
The last 24hrs were a lot more comfortable than the first 20. With flatter seas and a good sailing angle we have made good progress and are now at the half-way mark. At first light yesterday we shook out the two reefs we had overnight and changed from the staysail to the Solent in the moderating pressure. We pointed GS E-SE and kept her pretty reachy all day as the weather info suggested we needed to be south to skirt around a large (wind) hole associated with the high pressure we are in. The Red Rocket really loves reaching at 90 true, as we can swing the keel all the way over and power her right up. The steady sailing allowed us all to catch on some rest and nutrition that was lost on the first night.
The updated weather information we are now getting in now suggests that the wind hole will form later than first thought, so we have turned North towards Bermuda, with the plan being that the hotter sailing angle will get us down the track fast enough to stay in breeze ahead of the hole.
Fingers crossed the forecast is right.
A Note from Joe Harris: While GS is the race leader, she is also the most Southerly boat in the fleet (see www.charlestontobermuda.com and click on "I-Boat-Track for a great view of the race) and needs to get north to close the door on the competition, which seems to be slowing right down in light air. As I give my daughter Sophie a bottle here at home, it feels strange to watch my boat sail on without me, but I know the crew is doing an awesome job and wish them all the best of luck. Carry on lads!