From The Deck Of Prospector 13 July 2015 1000Z
From The Deck Of Prospector 13 July 2015 1000Z
A Paean To Prospector
As we near the finish of the TR2015 all 15 crew onboard are reflecting
on how lucky we have been to do this event on such an exceptional
The yacht called Prospector today has a long and illustrious history
since her commissioning in 1998. She has been Deep Powder, Carrera,
Harrier, Hissar, and Captivity. She has had terrific owners in Joe
Dockery, Steve Munger, Edgar Cato, and Sam Byrne who maintained
her well and upgraded her consistently. She is a winner on the race
course, and among her many victories she is the current holder of the
course record for the Annapolis to Newport race, set when she was
Carrera. When the SITP partners found her in Maine we could
immediately tell she had great bones, though she needed a bit of love.
More on that in a separate post.
Many famous sailors and highly accomplished crews have raced on her
over the years. We have been amazed at the number of people we
have met who fondly remember sailing on her in the past. To a one
they have offered us advice and encouragement as we have gone about
getting ready for the TR2015. Many of them have told us how happy it
makes them feel to see the old girl out and about again. It would be
great fun if any of you who sailed on her put a post on our Facebook
Every racing yacht is great at some things and not so great at others.
We have only found two flat spots with Prospector. The first is that she
is underpowered downwind in light air. The second is that we have to
switch to smaller fractional spinnakers in any reaching condition over 8
knots because the top of the mast is unsupported and we don’t have
running backstays. Both of these issues are minor (though they did
impact our Annapolis to Newport result) relative to her many strengths.
There are a couple of other minor annoyances. Prospector is a bit of a
wet boat now, mostly because of her age. The aft facing Nav station is
a bit of a trip and a bit of a challenge for her navigator. All things
considered, these are pretty acceptable trade-offs in exchange for her
Prospector is very fast upwind in almost any wind condition and
downwind above 15 knots though we can’t quite compete with the
planning yachts of today. The more the wind blows, the more she likes
it. It is amazingly easy to tell when she is underpowered and when she
is overpowered. In either state, a quick adjustment to the sail plan gets
her back on her groove again. During our transatlantic crossing we
were blessed with a lot of wind. On more than a few occasions too
much wind. The crew had more trouble dealing with that than
Prospector did. After we reduced sail area, often to a triple reefed
main and J5, Prospector would settle right down, incredibly balanced
and relatively easy to steer. It was an incredible sensation in over 40
knots of wind to feel her trundle on like a locomotive on a track,
shaking off the mayhem raging around her. Her strength and
confidence rubbed off on us. In conditions that often were just this
side of terrifying, we were able to remain calm knowing our sturdy
yacht could handle them.
Her other terrific attribute is her sheer volume. Long, wide and tall she
is enormous below decks. Prospector was an amazingly spacious and
comfortable home for the 15 of us as we crossed the Atlantic (this is of
course a relative comparison). There was plenty of room for all of us,
our gear (too much gear), 14 or 15 sails, food, supplies, tools and
spares. Sail storage and handling was easy given the space in the main
cabin. She is extremely comfortable, an important consideration for a
partnership group that would be hard to categorize as young.
Prospector is very big, and she looks it. We were in Antigua this winter
at the Catamaran Club for the Caribbean 600. We were on a dock in
front of the Ker 51 Sorcha and alongside the Cookson 50 Privateer.
Both looked tiny compared to the massive Prospector. People would
walk the docks and check Sorcha and Privateer, both amazing yachts.
When they got to Prospector they would stop and stare, stunned at her
size. We really benefited from her size and volume in the sailing
conditions we experienced during TR2015.
We had a very tough race. We rarely sailed in less than 30knot winds.
Often, too often really, we were in 40 knot plus winds. We also had
very big seas. Bigger than any of us had ever seen before or want to
see again. We pushed Prospector hard to try to put up the best
possible finish we could. We had some breakdowns, and some near
break downs, and even more near misses but Prospector gave us more
than we should have asked of her and brought us across the big, unruly
North Atlantic safely.
All 15 of us now trust her completely. We know we are beyond
fortunate to have such a fast, strong, sea kindly yacht to enjoy the
adventure of a lifetime aboard.