Episode 12, Parts 1 & 2: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

We’ve heard from the crew twice in the last 12 hours so we put both communiques here for you to see where they’re at so far.

Part 1

A little delay today but I blame, shall we say, snafus (we have some more choice words but they might be R-rated).

Anyway, when things want to go to shit, they really go to shit. Murphy’s Law has been in full effect: nothing we do seems to go the way we want. We’d had a great day yesterday (meaning Wednesday) going full speed ahead with the spinnaker. We were falling into a groove that reminded us of our last PacCup crossing two years ago. It was good, refreshing even. And then…yup, you know where this is going…we change spinnakers for the night and all goes well until 2am. Suddenly, the wind picks up and the spinnaker basically turns into a screwed up taquito around the forestay (see Exhibit A although we’d like to call it Exhibit @*$%!). We will be arriving in Hawaii with it in this exact position because…holy shit, we are OVER it. Kinda gives Thirsty a lived-in look, actually.

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So now, we’re advancing at a leisurely pace of 7-8 knots using the mainsail with a wind we estimate is blowing at about 30 knots (who even knows anymore…without electronics, we’ve become excellent guesstimators). This means our arrival will be a little later than predicted. At this point, we just want to get there. We’ll come back and take revenge on this *#&$^$&#* race one day.

It’s a frustrating situation. We obviously had winning in mind but it was not in the cards (so much for the much sought-after NKE HR autopilot everyone fights over to go faster). We are, as mentioned before, basically glued to the helm at all times. I’m now understanding why everyone went with the B&G…lesson learned.

So, we trek along and make mistakes. With two hands always at the helm, it only leaves two hands to perform any manoeuvers. As a result, we’re not a well-oiled machine and manoeuvers are a bit clunky. Also, we’re not sleeping as much. If whoever’s at the helm needs a drink, food, etc., they need to wake the other up to retrieve it. It’s a little annoying (understatement of the year).

Also, in my losing battle against Mother Nature, I seriously injured my finger. Thank goodness Nurse Freddy was there to bandage me up (such a gentle touch that guy). I have some additional bruises that are like a roadmap of our trials and tribulations.

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Since things have calmed down, I can make a recap of equipment we liked and equipment we hated (bet you can guess one of them).

Likes:

  • The carbon fiber mast from Remy- awesome
  • The rigging textiles from Colligo- also awesome
  • All of the running rigging from Ouistreham- also awesome
  • The Pontos winches were excellent a high speeds- but we already knew that
  • The spinnakers from Incidences Brest were exceptional- not sure I could go back to another brand now

Dislikes:

  • Obviously, the $%#^%$%&% electronics- the reason for 90% of our problems
  • The UK and Ullman sails were just OK. A little too fragile for our tastes.

That’s our news for now. We’ll have more soon (note from the Ground-Based Crew: see part 2 below) since we now have the time.

Ciao,

Charles

Part 2

And here we are, almost at the end of this painful crossing.

At the time of this email, we have about 160 miles to go. We’ve rigged the spinnaker to our last halyard (originally from the gennaker) and we still have our little taquito spinnaker in place (should make for an epic arrivals photo).

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Fred’s investigation lead us to discover that our autopilot’s lack of usefulness was due to a broken connection explaining why it worked in neither mode.

We can’t wait to arrive. Neither one of us has ever struggled so much during a crossing. We are exhausted. If we were an iphone, we’d be begging you to recharge us ASAP (less than 10%). We’re working through the night trying to keep our eyes open and our brains fresh…especially since nights have been when we’ve had our roughest situations. We have about 18- 22 hours left at sea. And getting there will be a huge relief.

Anne-Cecile (my wife) and Marie-Christine (Gilles’ wife) will be at the arrival and that makes us smile. It will be the first time Anne-Cecile is at one of my race arrivals in the 24 years we’ve known each other. And for Marie-Christine, it will be the first time she’s back here for a Hawaii race arrival since Gilles left us (she was at the arrival in 2011 for the Transpac when Gilles was part of our crew).

All that to remind you that we are in this race not just because we’re avid sailors, but also to support a cause dear to us: Fighting ALS. ALS, as you know, is the disease that took Gilles from us. We continue to sail the seas in his memory. So, friends, we ask of you one little gesture (if you haven’t already): visit the donations section of this site and donate to the ALS Association’s Golden West Chapter. It’s tax deductible et and it will help fund research into the causes and potential treatments for this horrible disease.

And when you donate, I’ll have your name and I’ll buy you a drink on my boat (not this one…something more comfortable).

Thank you all for your support! You’ve all kept us going these last few days. Charly

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