We've had a gale overnight, water in the cockpit and we're down to a staysail and reefed mizzen… and we've seen a ship! Someone's out there afterall…


It’s been quite a lively night with the north-easterly piping up to 35 knots and a chunky sea occasionally finding its way into Adele’s cockpit. Whoops, salt water on the deck cushions?

We’ve had to sail fairly well below our course because we do not want to thump into this sea as much for the crew (accommodated forward), as the yacht. The crew, however, seem totally unfazed by the conditions and maintain service as usual – if you can stomach it with the motion!

The game plan is to close the coast about 80nm to 100nm south west of Rio when the wind should ease and the sea state flatten. We will then probably motor the last bit allowing us to clean the yacht and sort ourselves out before arrival in a city with a carnival hangover – it’s taken three days to raise our agent!

One of the reasons we don’t want to crash into it, is that the rig is a little ‘soft’ with noticeable sag in the forestay and a bit of fall off at the top of the mainmast. This is because Adele has literally expanded as she has moved from water and air temperatures of around 0 degrees C. to numbers approaching 30 degrees C. Her aluminium hull and the rod rigging holding up her masts, plus the forestay foil, all react to the increase in temperature and inevitably things slacken off.

In Rio one of Marten Spars’ reps either from Auckland or Europe will come and tune the rig using a 10,000psi jack to lift the mast to allow them to make the adjustments needed for warmer climes. Andre and the crew have been particularly impressed with Marten Spars service and for that matter with Rondal who have travelled to Adele immediately any need has arisen.

Andrew Kitchener is Marten’s man in Europe and along with Leen Smoor and a guy known as ‘Grunter’ from Auckland the rigs have been kept in tip top shape. In Auckland, bosun Georgina Swan’s mum phoned Adele from her office in the city. “There’s someone standing on top of your mast, dear,” she said. It was Grunter, tethered to the masthead lightening conductor rod (that’s 62m up by the way), standing on the truck, yanking the B&G instrument cable through! Such is the life of a modern-day rigger.

Evidence of the hull expansion and contraction can be seen in the caulking set at regular intervals between the lengths of teak cap rail. In the cold weather when the hull is ‘small’ the black caulking stands proud as the aluminium contracts, compressing the material between the lengths of timber.

Now it is concave as the hull has expanded and the lengths of cap rail have pulled apart slightly with the hull. It is extraordinary to think that with all the expansion and contraction, hot and cold, to say nothing of the sort of pounding that Adele has taken over the past few weeks, that paint and varnish has stayed on at all. The hull finish is Awlgrip by the way and a team from Holland will come to varnish Adele’s brightwork with Epiphanes.

And we’ve seen evidence of other life on earth. Last night we had to alter course for a seismic survey vessel towing some sort of device, the first ship since South Georgia, and we have just talked to a Dutch freighter out on our port beam. With AIS (automatic identification system) we know she is called Racer, that she is due in Amsterdam on 9 March and than she draws 10.5m. We have her course and speed and a quick chat with her bridge established that her CPA (closest point of approach) was OK but she altered anyway to leave us well clear on her port beam. A long way from the day’s when you would eye her with a hand bearer and worry until you were sure you weren’t on a collision course.