Brian Thompson with the latest from Cheyenne

I’ve just come off watch, and it’s pretty cold out there, it started at 4 degrees C even though the sun is shining. We are at the same latitude as the Channel Islands, UK, and the date equivalent of the 27 August in the Northern Hemisphere. There are not many days in St Helier where it is 4 degrees in the middle of a sunny August day. Maybe that’s why we saw two penguins this watch, leaping out of our path, and a lone seal watched our progress as we flashed by at 25 knots. We also saw a big clump of seaweed probably blown off some wave lashed rocks on Prince Edward Island. It was a big enough clump to have slowed us down significantly. As we approach the Kergeulens we will most likely see more of these and may have to go into irons and make sternway to clear the rudders and dagger boards if we get caught by a patch.

On the good side we have not seen any more icebergs since yesterday, and we got through the night at full speed but paying careful attention to the radar. We also used an infrared camera that looks like a video camera but sees in the infra red spectrum, distinguishing between hot and cold objects. We have used this camera before in the Labrador Current of the North Atlantic and been able to pick up bergs at night almost as easily as in the daytime with the naked eye.

Still perfect sailing conditions as we track east, we are keeping pace with a high pressure system to our north which is allowing us to sail in relatively light winds and seas for this latitude. As we are encircling the globe, the further south we track, the fewer miles we have to sail. It’s a balance between the lesser distance and the normally worse conditions further south. Now we are having our cake and eating it too, having the benign conditions close to the high whilst being south and sailing fewer miles. It seems from the latest weather report that we are actually overtaking the high and will have to gybe away in 36 hours to avoid the light air at its centre. We should be close to the Kergeulens at that point.

On the everlasting maintenance front, we have found a hairline crack in our gennaker halyard turning block which is part of the mast base unit. This is a massive welded aluminium structure, but obviously the stress is too much for the welds. We are backing up the cheeks of the sheave with a batten passing through the sheave axis, that will be lashed down with several Spanish windlasses. This should be ok, and if not we do have two spare sheaves in the mast base that we could potentially use, though it would not be an ideal lead. Our Kiwi boatbuilding maestro, Mike, is leading this operation with help from Damian and Fraser.

Still pulling the miles out on the record holder Orange as we enjoy these fast conditions – Friday morning we were 784 miles ahead of their position and, fingers crossed, we should make some more gains in the days to come. Everyone is in good spirits and enjoying this great sailing.


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