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

with activity.

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

few days.

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.