"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Friday, 24 April 2015

leg 8 race 1: new york to derry

leaving new york was hard. my parents and leigh were there, and not leaving until the following day. we'd got up early and had breakfast in our regular diner down the street, before heading to the marina at battery park. I got the last of my stuff loaded onto the boat, sorted out and packed away, then headed back to the folks to hang out a little bit more. there were quite a few friends and family there to see us off. 

we slipped the marina out into the hudson river and hoisted our main sails. unfortunately by this point, the family had to leave as they were off to see 'matilda' on broadway. leigh had seen it twice in stratforduponavon, once from the radio racks and once from out front. she told mum about it and she'd been desperate to see it for ages. I knew they were going to try and get tickets, so I didn't expect them to still be there. happily they managed to get tickets, and mum and dad both loved it. mum was expecting to, but I think dad was a bit surprised how much he enjoyed it. I think it's my favourite show that I've worked on over the years, so I wasn't surprised at all :)

fleet parading out of NY

exiting past the statue of liberty on our way back home!

once we finished the parade and headed out of the river, we had dinner and got ready for the le mans start. we flew the yankee 1 initially, and waited for the mandatory ten minutes before hoisting the kite. the entire fleet did the exact same thing, and that night when we came up on deck for watch we could see every boat in the fleet around us. most of the fleet run with their steaming lights on with a kite up, and we could see nav and steaming lights with ghostly kites all around us. it looked incredible, and seemed like candles everywhere. 

folk started to gybe off shortly afterwards to try and get an advantage. we were level with derry and old pulteney for a long time, before the fleet separated out. we managed to get all the way up to first place, before hitting a fog bank and watching as the rest of the fleet gybed off to avoid us, and the wind hole. we dropped steadily to eleventh. we worked really hard and crept back up to sixth.

life continues outside the boat bubble, and during this race one of our new crew, jack, got news from home that his baby was going to be a boy! we celebrated with him and took this photo for our crew blog!

jack gets exciting news mid atlantic :D

there are two ice marks on this course, which mark the northern limits of the race track. these marks can be moved by the race office in case of growler sightings. this is exactly what happened, with GB and DLL reporting growlers south of the line. luckily we'd stayed reasonably far south so didn't have to gybe to maintain course. we were optimistic that this would mean the fleet would suffer, but sadly that wasn't the case. between the ice marks, we maintained an ice watch with someone standing by the shrouds scanning the surface of the water looking for any strange blocks of ice hanging around. thankfully we didn't see any and made it past the ice marks unscathed.

we had some kite issues on this leg, which we haven't suffered from for a very long time. first of all, thor (our code 3 heavyweight kite) fell overboard while we were prepping it for a hoist, ,and ended up acting like a huge drogue in the water. it took us a while to drag it over the pushpit and back into the boat. in this time, it had burst a massive hole in itself. it then sustained some more damage while being dragged inboard. poor sophie had a big old repair on her hands! we were still having some sewing machine issues, so we decided to leave the repair until derry. we figured it would take two days.

an exciting point was reached as well. when we crossed 43degrees 80.890minutes west, we became circumnavigators! that is the line of longitude of a buoy outside rio de janeiro, and means that we have now crossed every line of longitude on the globe! obviously I missed a little bit between san francisco and panama, but I'm not counting that :) our next point is crossing our outgoing track, which won't happen until we cross the finish line at southend pier on saturday 12th july. the final point is reaching our home port, which is london. that will happen a few hours after crossing our outgoing track. 


wind hole after wind hole followed, affecting most of the fleet. derry~londonderry~doire managed to get across the weather system and blasted towards their home port in first place. how exciting!! we sent them a supportive email from the back of the fleet telling them we were rooting for them. we got a lovely response from them, and were then thrilled when they won. it was a tight finish with garmin and GB pushing right until the end. 

while in the windhole, we did a rig check. it's usual to try and get one in if possible on a race. during this check, I discovered that one of our top spreaders had been caught on a halyard and been pulled up loads. I emailed greg and he advised that we try and balance it so it was flat. he also wanted quite detailed checks done on the spreader and mast at that point. so up I went. I initially tried to hammer it down, which is usually possible. but it had been deflected so much we had to winch it down. we ran a line down to a winch via a heavy duty deck block and the guys ground it down while I watched it flatten. once that was done, I did the checks greg wanted and emailed him the results. it looked to me that there was no structural damage, as there is a lot of flexibility in the aluminium rig - one of the reasons we had one!

flattening off the bent spreader
hammering not working....

the race office called the finish early, so we had a long motor to do before we reached lough foyle. we spent the time doing our entire maintenance list! we left the deep clean until derry, as we wanted to do a fresh water clean of the bilges and sole boards. the last few cleans we've done at sea which is great, as we've had time off in port, but we need to start thinking about handing the boat back… 

as we motored through the lough and into the river, sophie's dad phoned to say he was on the foyle bridge waiting for us. unfortunately, he didn't realise that he would draw attention to himself. several locals stopped to ask him if he was ok, along with the police, and not thinking about jumping! whoops...

an unusual view of the boat! thanks sophie's dad!!

the 3 fearless females in derry :D

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