From the Deck of Prospector 19 October 2015 0630Z
A Busy and Productive Overnight
It is a beautiful morning on the Tyrrhenian Sea. We are abeam of
Palermo and well on our way to Capo St. Vito, which is 40 miles ahead.
We have covered 84 miles of the leg from Strombolio to Capo St. Vito
since our last post.
It was a busy and productive overnight. We began the leg in a 10 not
easterly with the A2 up sailing just north of the rhumb line at 9-10
knots boat speed. As some of us settled down to sleep, the on watch
was kept busy as we progressed through a variety of wind conditions,
each prompting a change in headsail. First we put up the spinnaker
staysail to add a little horsepower. A short while later the wind shifted
right and built a bit, so down came the A2 and SS and up went our
fractional code zeroor FRO. As the wind continued to veer right and
drop so we took down the FRO and put up a J1, our light air job. At
about 4am local, as the watches were changing the wind had built to
13-15 knots out of the southwest. Overpowered in these conditions we
downshifted changing headsail to our J2. At 6am, with the wind having
backed and dropped below 10 knots, we changed headsails again
striking the J2 and hoisting the J1.
For those of you keeping score at home that is A2 to A2/SS to J1 to J2 to
J1. Four headsail changes in 7 hours. Just before settling down for the
night we had talked through the wind forecast so we were ready for the
progression of changes in wind speeds and directions. But, being ready
is one thing. Shifting gears like that on a dark, nearly moonless night, is
another. The high spirited and amazingly talented Prospector crew
pulled off each change flawlessly. As each sail went up the next sail we
thought we would need was readied on deck. As each sail came down
it was flaked or packed and bagged, ready to go again if necessary. It all
sounds simple in theory. In practice it is anything but. Particularly
when the wind builds and Prospector gets wicked up making just
moving around a major endeavor. Kudos to our watch captains, Paul
and Tim and our bow men Matt and Stuart, for a flawless performance.
All that work paid off. We deliberately stayed a bit further north of the
rhumb line than our gang of eight, thinking there would be a bit more
wind further offshore. That turned out to be a good decision. Added
together with the stellar crew work we reeled the gang of 8 back in.
They have been going slower in lighter air trying to work down to our
line throughout the early morning hours. We have halved their leads
over us. We have also legged out on the smaller boats behind us,
benefiting from stronger winds and our longer waterline. We are now
4th in class and 11th in fleet. Big steps in the right direction.
We are just getting out of what we hope will be the last patch of light
air for the race. As we reach the northwest corner of Sicily and turn
southeast to Pantellaria we expect the wind to build into the high
teens/low twenties. Prospector conditions. Hopefully we can keep
moving up the leaderboards.
Hot late news flash. While this blog was being written and the crew
finished up their favorite breakfast, freeze dried breakfast skillet a la
Colette, enjoyed on deck in the bright morning sun we got latest sked
and learned we are now 4th in both IRC2 and IRC overall. We still have
just over half the race to go, so it is way too early to get too excited
about a result. But it still feels pretty good.