David Scully reports from on board Steve Fossett's maxi cat as she starts her Jules Verne record attempt
Black hole burgers for lunch today. The code zero is slatting against the forestays, The giant mainsail hangs from it’s battens. Lunch cooking smells come up the hatch, Bob Marley is singing about peace and understanding, and the murmur of crew voices is that of people with nothing particular to do, and no place to go.
What a change from four hours ago, when I gave up the wheel to an eager Brian. Then we were creaming across the surface of the sea at dawn, doing 25 knots under genaker and full main. Finally, after the close hauled, cold spray in the face sailing of yesterday, we were making knots to warmer weather. And just 24 hours ago, we were battling headwinds gusting to 50, just to get to the start line.
The guys have just hauled the headsail to the other side of the boat, so I guess Jacques has decided which side of the boat the breeze is coming from. If it is real wind, the mainsail battens will pop thru eventually. I hear water running down the hull, the speedo is reading! Northeast, according to the meter. Not good. The breeze from the system we are looking for should come from the south. We need to be 90 miles southwest of here to meet the low pressure zone that will carry us to the trades. Right now we are half a day late, and this northerly is probably just a local anomaly.
We have six hours to get what we need or pull the plug. Disappointing, to turn back. Very hard. But we are in the record setting business, and if we are not setting records, there is no point in being out here. Our goal is to get to the equator in eight and a half days. The next few hours will tell whether that is a reality.
Picture shows Cheyenne leaving Plymouth before her start on Friday. Claire Bailey