From The Deck Of Prospector 10 July 2015 2230Z
From The Deck Of Prospector 10 July 2015 2230Z
We have had an incredibly busy and productive 24 hours. While last
night’s post “Wilderness” was being finalized Prospector was buzzing
For 24 hours we had been struggling with the light winds, sub 20 knots,
and were losing ground to our competitors. We knew where to find
more wind, but were reluctant to separate from the fleet to go get it.
Finally, we decided that we had no choice. We had to go. The on
watch crew executed the gybe and once again we were off to the north
to find the low pressure system we have been playing with for the last
Below decks, North Sails North Atlantic sail loft opened for business.
We desparately needed to get one of either the A5 or A6 back to
continue to be competitive. Looking the two sails over again, Henry
offered to try repairing the A5. He told us not to get our hopes up but
would see what he could do. Tery subbed in on Henry’s watch as Henry
grabbed Scotty, went below and set up shop. The next four hours were
the comical highlight of the trip.
We closed Prospector’s companionway to not blind the on watch crew
as we turned on all the cabin lights so Henry and Scotty could see what
they were doing. The duo grabbed one of Prospector’s floorboards to
serve as a table. Scotty got out his magic bag of sail repair gear and
they set to work. Sitting side by side, wearing their headlamps they cut
away pieces too damaged to repair and used a variety of patches, sticky
back sail cloth, needle and thread to make the repair. They amused
themselves while they worked by telling jokes, often delivering the
punch line in unison to ones they both knew, and singing songs, the
best of which was their duet to The Doors song Riders on The Storm.
They were hysterical, to the great amusement of the off watch crew,
Colette and Larry.
They were also incredibly effective. Slowly but surely the pile of nylon
rubble spread about them began to resemble something looking like a
spinnaker. After a few hours work both went to get some needed sleep
before going back on their next watch. The repair was mostly complete
and would be finished the next day.
The on watch crews spent the night picking their way through a 15 mile
squall line as we pressed on to the north. With every passing mile the
wind blew stronger. At various times each of our different competitors
would gybe on to our course, but never all of them at once. Tactically
what we were doing was pretty risky, something we try to avoid.
Finally, finding the 30 knot wind field that we have grown to love, we
gybed back to the east, pointing Prospector towards the finish again.
We enjoyed another amazing day of good weather. Prospector picked
up yet another nickname, Carbon Beach, as everyone on deck enjoyed
the warm, sunny conditions. The crew worked relentlessly to get every
ounce of speed out of Prospector. Sails went up and down, reefs went
in and out. We tried every idea we could think of to get more speed.
The mainsail, damaged during one of our gybes in the early morning
hours was partially lowered and repaired. Another Formula 1 style pit
stop and incredible piece of work by Scotty with a big assist from the
rest of the crew. Unable to sail downwind at the same wide angles as
our competitors we were forced to sail higher to stay fast and keep up.
This required frequent gybes to stay in phase in very shifty wind
conditions and keep pointed towards the finish. Gybing a beast the size
of Prospector in 28-32 knots can be risky if executed poorly, but our
crew work has improved day by day, gybe by gybe. Our talented and
amazing crew pulled each manouevre off better than the previous one.
There was just one little problem ruining our otherwise very special
day. We remained stuck in 4th place despite all of the effort. Running
out of nifty go fast ideas we decided to it was time to take a bit of a
gamble. About mid day Henry completed the repair of the A5. It was
back in one piece, a marvelous piece of work by Scotty and Henry. We
had been debating all afternoon whether we should fly it and when. At
2pm we decided it was time. Everyone was anxious as we rigged to set
the A5. Henry told us that though it was back in one piece, there were
no guarantees it would remain in one piece if we flew it. This sail can
normally be flown in a 12-35 knots wind speed. We decided we would
limit it to 22-28 knots, the wind range we just couldn’t fill with various
combinations of our other sails.
Once it was set to go we hoisted the A5. Our normally chatty boat
went quiet as we all waited to see what would happen. The A5 went
up without an issue, but luffed behind the Jib Top, lengthening the
suspense. Bruce, LuLu (Lucien’s nickname) and Scotty wrestled the JT
to the deck. Henry rose from his bunk to watch intently. Once the JT
was down the A5 was sheeted in, filled and with a lurch pulled
Prospector forward. Our boat speed jumped from 11-12knots to 14-16
knots under the bigger downwind sail. As it filled we got our first look
at its newly repaired shape. Unbelievably, it looked almost good as
new. A loud cheer rose from the deck as the crew celebrated. Henry
and Scotty got pats on the back or hugs from the rest of their
We were all thrilled as we hurtled down the track 2-5 knots faster and
10 degrees lower. We all new at once our chances for a podium finish,
which had been diminishing despite all our efforts, had just improved
immeasurably. We kept the A5 up for 4 more hours, until 6pm, when
the wind built to 28 knots the top of our range. As a squall approached
from astern we quickly got it down safely. A big improvement over the
last time the A5 came down, when it was forcibly brought down in
pieces for us.
We went back in to our night sailing JT/GS combo, had dinner and
settled down for the night. The 4 hours with A5 had given us the
difference maker we so badly needed. In those 4 hours we
accomplished what we had been trying to do for the previous 20 hours,
we were back in 3d in our fleet. Tomorrow morning at first light the A5
goes back up. We intend to leave it up until we finish.