Kip Stone, Transat Jacques Vabre competitor who's currently sailing his Open 50 Artforms back home to United States via St Thomas has crossed the Equator
Current Position 10.01N 052.33W
Kip Stone is sailing Artforms 3,000 nautical miles from Brazil to St Thomas, where the boat will rest for the winter. Crossing of the Equator on 10 December was a momentous occasion for Stone who commented: “Of all the miles I’ve put on the boat since I left the dock in Maine last August, breaking through to the Northeast Trades feels like one of the highlights, and even though I’m still many miles from my home and the cold New England winter, I feel like I’m pointed in the right direction and I can’t wait to get back.”
Here’s Stone’s latest log
Back in the Northern Hemisphere! Although Artforms crossed the Equator on 10 December, it wasn’t until dawn this morning that we poked our nose into the Northeast Trades – the meteorological equivalent of the Equator. For the past five days, we’ve been working our way over the top of Brazil, sailing 800 nautical miles to the north-west from the Equator in light south-easterly Trades before reaching the ITCZ, or Doldrums, then through a Doldrums belt 110 miles wide. Unlike the trip down, we now have the engine at our disposal for when the wind gets light, but that’s a little bit of a mixed blessing. Although the boat sails fast, it motors along noisily at about the pace of a brisk walk and, with the sun beating down during the day, there’s suddenly one less place to hide when the cabin starts to warm up.
John Ryan, a friend and 2005 Bermuda 1-2 competitor has joined me on Artforms for the 3,000 nautical mile ride from Brazil to St Thomas, where the boat will rest for the winter. John has done quite a bit of solo sailing, but this is his longest offshore passage and it’s nice to have someone on board eager to learn and excited to apply the experience to his own program. Although I’m hopeful he’s picked up a few things, I’m sorry to say the biggest lesson may be how much drinking water to bring on board before heading offshore. Between the light breeze that has slowed our progress and the equatorial heat that has us drinking more than average, we were starting to run low and beginning to ration until a Doldrums squall allowed us to fill a few buckets off the mainsail.
By itself, our shrinking water supply never posed any grave concern, but that relied on no other failures. If the motor failed and the wind died, if we lost the rig or a critical sail, if one of us had a bad accident, we might just have found ourselves in a bit of trouble. On a boat, just like about everywhere else, it’s almost always a series of small mistakes that compound into the big problems, and my failure to buy an extra few litres of water in Brazil, mostly because my head was still in race mode and I didn’t want anything on board more than the minimum I thought we’d need, was one of those highly preventable mistakes that never should have been made.
Other than that, the trip north has been quite pleasant and we’ve both settled into the relatively relaxed pace of delivery mode. Until we reached the Doldrums, we had spectacularly clear nights with a waxing moon to light the way. Night by night, we’ve watched the Big Dipper rise slowly in the northern sky, and the other night, with the aid of the binoculars, I was just able to pick up the North Star before dawn.
The Transat Jacques Vabre experience was fantastic, and a week recovering from the long sail amid the crazy energy of life in Brazil – women in traditional dress dancing in the street, men and boys everywhere practicing the slow motion martial art of capoeira, drumming and noisemaking around the clock – was great. But of all the miles I’ve put on the boat since I left the dock in Maine last August, breaking through to the Northeast Trades today feels like one of the highlights, and even though I’m still many miles from my home and the cold New England winter, I feel like I’m pointed in the right direction and I can’t wait to get back. A few more days on the boat and a few hours on a plane, and I’ll be there.