Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker reports in for YW this morning with the latest in the struggle to get through the Doldrums
Position: 5,7.10N , 30,53.19W
Speed: 6 knots, Course: 189 deg.
I write this at 5 degrees North, 31 degrees West as we head south trying desperately to escape the clutches of the doldrums. The wind has gone to the South East and several times the newbies onboard (myself included) have thought that we were free and into the SE Trades. The older hands like Damian and Neal know only too well you don’t escape this easily! It has of course been far from easy but our Westerly course has so far sailed us into the lead. Deep down I am disappointed not to have a bigger lead as we thought the boats in the East would suffer far more – maybe there is still time! We should be grateful that we are in the hunt as we approach the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha. (Note – Its amazing how your concept of scale changes – we are now just under 600 miles from the gate which is just shy of a Fastnet or Hobart Race distance and which up until 1 week ago was the furthest I have ever raced – now it feels like a rounding error!) – One thing that has amazed me over the last 3 days is the size and changeable nature of the clouds. Being the right or wrong side of one of these clouds can literally gain or lose you 50 miles. We have had 2 crackers that have launched us down the track at 20 knots for an hour but we have had 2 rotters that have destroyed our breeze for 2 hours. The only conclusion I have come to is that on balance most clouds are bad news so try and avoid them. Trying to manage these clouds is crucial but thanks to their unpredictability it is not always that scientific.
Today is day 10 and conditions are good onboard – we have had no significant breakages and all are in good health – long may that last. One growing concern is the amount of food and fuel we have onboard. We provisioned for 25 days which we thought would be ample but so far we have only sailed one third of the distance in 10 days. Food is not that much of an issue but fuel is. The media gear drains serious power and we need to both meet our media demands and be able to run the generator to make water and power the boat (including the swing keel!).
As I finish this piece I have just received good news on the latest position report – an 8 mile gain in 3 hours – I am getting increasingly nervous at every report right now as if anybody escapes South it could be the leg winning move. I still have faith in the West – lets hope I am right.