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Skipper's Logs Archive: Bermuda 1-2 2007

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Black Clouds
June 24, 2007

Greetings friends of Gryphon Solo

After the first night's round of constant sail changes and repairs, I was looking forward to a mellower night last night. No such luck. This time the culprit was light and variable winds, making sail trim and boat handling a challenge. Our previous problems with a leak in the stern and the broken batten seemed to be OK so we could focus on sailing the boat. As the night progressed, the wind became more fickle until finally a huge black cloud came over us and sucked all the wind out of the area. It was kind of eerie as the light from the half moon showed through the dark could and the winds swirled in 360 degrees of random directions. Dobbs Davis and I sat in the cockpit as the sails slapped and slapped and cursed big black clouds, that are notorious for sucking the wind out of the area beneath them. Ken Campbell at Commanders Weather has always warned me to stay away from clouds as they can leave you in your own private wind hole while others around you sail away. Luckily last night we were becalmed for only about an hour and were then able to get moving again albeit slowly.

As Dobbs went off watch and I came on, I looked on the horizon and saw yet another big black cloud. I tried to sail away from it but it overtook us and I waited for the same tortuous swirling, wind vortex but instead the wind just went to about 5 knots and stayed there. Dodged that bullet. As the dawn came the wind improved and we tried to claw our way to the west as we had been pushed far to the east by the north westerly winds. We made little westerly progress as Gryphon Solo does not really like to go to windward in light air so we reached off and hoped we could get through the foul current of the Gulf Stream as we entered in a less-than-ideal location. The water temp rose from 72 to 77 and the Sargasso weed indicated we were in the stream being pushed eastward at 2.5 knots. The wind fell as the wind was coming from the same direction as the current, making the apparent wind less (think on that one). We scratched and kicked and clawed our way through the stream in light air and emerged on the north side with a nice south westerly breeze allowing us to make 10 knots toward Newport as I type.

The weather files show the wind to be pretty steady from the WSW over the remaining 250 miles so we will be tight reaching and hopefully putting some distance on our completion. We have to beat everyone in to Newport by at least 20 hours to have a chance of winning on corrected time so we have our work cut out for us. It will be interesting to see how this leg shakes out as well as the combined times from the first and second legs to determine the overall winner.

Don't touch that clicker yet,
Joe



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