Having survived another storm overnight Ellen MacArthur is still 1 day, 19 hours, 9 minutes ahead of Francis Joyon's global record breaking time

Having survived another storm overnight Ellen MacArthur is still 1 day, 19 hours, 9 minutes ahead of Francis Joyon’s global record breaking time. Recovering from a 10-hour soaking MacArthur sent this message from B&Q this morning:

“Sitting here at the chart table soaked again. Already changed clothes twice in the past 10 hours – thank goodness for Arry the air cooled generator (as I type this he’s stopped for the third time in 20 mins – back in a mo) it’s been another very hard slog. Yesterday winds much lighter than predicted – so more sail changes, and the stress is of hoping that when you pull the reef out you won’t be putting it in just an hour later

“Yesterday evening it became evident that there was a storm brewing to the west that was going to hit us hard again – and as the hours ticked by it appeared worse than the xmas storm… it was right… we’re in it – had gusts over 45 knots, and the sea is pretty damn bad. Waves breaking all over the place – and the 15m2 storm jib looks gigantic. It’s been a non-stop night, afternoon and morning. Though looking at the clock it’s now lunch time local!

“Just after dark I put up the storm jib, and spent half an hour adjusting the 3rd reef. Both done by bearing away [loses a lot of miles but is much safer] to avoid the risk of full on hits with the waves – though there’s always the odd one which caught us out… I got a full frontal which completely winded me while I was rearranging the gennaker in its bag and now the protective netting has gone [last storm ripped it off] there’s a lot more cold spray to hit the face. Storm jib went up without too many probs. Then it was down below to tackle the now three hourly charge trying to keep othe batteries up. genny has stopped again… hold on… ok on again. I guess if my stomach’s in my mouth each time we fall off a wave then I can’t begin to think what’s happening to the fuel and oil in there. Just one more washing machine cycle.

“I got the batteries up to about 70 percent which under the circumstances was not bad I thought – then set about checking on deck again. Unfortunately the main had filled with a pocket of water – so next stage was another bear away and a 40 minute fight to pump the water out with a bilge pump. I could hardly stand up on deck let alone hold the pump down and work the handle. It took about 20 goes but on my last one it worked, and I managed to get the sail back on the boom – no longer loaded down with tons of water trying to rip it apart.

“On coming below I managed to get an hour or so on the floor after changing clothes again… at least I slept – then woke feeling hungry – but this time chose to ignore it – and laid my head back on the damp fleece to snooze again.

“On awakening there was another two hour list of tasks! I bailed out the area beneath the autopilot arms – but couldn’t work out where the water was coming form. Finally I discover it’s from the old main engine bay – and there is about half a ton in there coming down the old exhaust which needs to stay open as the air for the generator cooling comes from in there. So – I pumped till it was gone – about half an hour – then final part under the floor again (generator stopped again, and a wave just thudded on to the coachhouse) …back again! So I’m here now having stuffed as much cereal in as I can, drank my sports drink dry – and will now spend the next three hours tending to the generator… engineer back on duty..!

“I’m really exhausted, but drying out the boat, and creating that list of jobs for after makes me feel a bit better.”

According to the Commanders’ Weather Corp the strong northerly winds will slowly decrease today. Big high swell to the NE and low pressure off the SW produced the strong flow and the worst of it has now passed. It will still be windy today, but better than yesterday, mainly 28-35 kts. Wind will back a little and be more NNW to NW. This will allow a more E heading as opposed to SE.

The NW wind then continues Thurs and Friday, speeds more on the order of 22-32 kts, though. Again, plan will be to come mainly E. This should still maintain good wind speed and a good wind angle which should allow a fast boat speed. Seas should ease a little as well and that should help make conditions a bit better over the next couple of days. Will likely come more NE for a time Friday as breeze drops off and backs more appreciably.

The weather pattern shows a ridge of high pressure from off the SE part of Australia extending SSE towards 50s/160-163e by 00utc Sat. This will make for lighter winds, lightest occurring near and north of 50s. Beyond this time, wind will back and become WSW and then SW. Course will then be ESE to E, probably passing between Auckland and Campbell Island.