Saturday, June 23
I apologize that my race report was delayed today, but it has been a very busy 36 hours since the start. The start was a lot of fun as it was directly downwind through the narrow St. Georges cut and out into the Atlantic. My sailing partner, Dobbs Davis, and I had conceived and practiced a very nice starting maneuver only to get messed up when the boat went into irons just two minutes before the start. An Open 50 with no jib up does not tack very well and when you don't make it through the tack, you start sailing backwards... fast. Luckily we rolled out the staysail quickly and got the boat going again and were on the start line on the gun, but it was not pretty. We sailed next to the Open 40 "Wild Eyes" out the cut and around Mills Breaker buoy and then Kitchen Shoals and then off into the Atlantic.
The strategy was to head to the west of the rhumb line (straight line to Newport) in order to get into the favorable current of a cold eddy south of the gulf stream. We were steaming happily along when the wind went from to SW into the NW, making it impossible for us to get far enough west to benefit from the current. So we plugged on- hard on the wind, healed over at a 30 degree angle which makes it difficult to do just about anything. As night fell the wind increased and we shortened sail as blue water rolled over the deck. Around 2:00 am I discovered a large amount of water in the lazarette (stern compartment) caused by a leak in the starboard lower rudder bearing. When we were healed over so far, the tube that comes up from the hull that encloses the rudder post filled with water and overflowed into the lazarette. When I discovered it, there was enough water in there that it took me 20 bucket loads to dry it out. I was soaked and exhausted but at least I knew the source of the leak and reduced sail further to lessen the heal angle to keep the boat dry.
After a long night of sail changes, disaster management, little sleep and no food, when the sun came out I discovered that we had a broken batten in the mainsail. Battens are long tubes of carbon fiber used to make the sail fly straight and when the break, they can punch through and tear the sail, perhaps causing a catastrophic tear across the whole sail. Dobbs and I discussed the situation and decided to lower the sail to remove the batten and see if the sail would work without it. It didn't- the leach (trailing edge) flapped like crazy and the sail was way too full. So we dropped the sail again and reloaded the broken batten, making sure there were no jagged ends to poke through the cloth. Hopefully it will hold until we get to Newport to replace the batten.
We are now steaming along at 9.7 knots in lumpy seas, about 90 miles from the Gulf Stream, and very questionable winds in the forecast. Our strategy has been reduced to trying to keep the boat going fast in the right general direction of Newport and try not to break anything else. I have a feeling that the smaller boats have been doing pretty well in this light stuff today and we have not been able to separate ourselves from the fleet like I did in the first leg but I have no official reports. We just ate a delicious Alpine Aire freeze dried dinner with tomatoes, onions and cheese added and it is high time for a spot of Earl Gray tea. Dobbs Davis is proving to be a great sailing partner and we have been getting to know one another as we work the boat.
A beautiful sunset is on the horizon and I wish everyone a peaceful Saturday night-
PS - View other pictures from the start of Leg #2: Gryphon Solo B1-2 Photo Archive