With under 10 days to go, the crew aboard Cheyenne are preparing for what could be a new round the world speed record. David Scully reports
This is the dead land. This is the cactus land of the sea. Swells, short and indeterminate in direction, lift the boat this way and that. Rain pours from a leaden sky, heavier and harder in the squalls which punctuate the otherwise featureless horizon. My hands, as I grip the wheel, are dead and white and saturated with fresh water.
Winds are light, but so far we have kept a slow and constant course to the north. We crossed the Line yesterday evening, minutes into Brian’s evening watch. Now we are on the last lap, a mere 3,000 nm from Ouessant, as the crow flies. Unfortunately, we cannot steer the crow’s course, and the trip home is going to break up into clearing the ITCZ, weathering the North East trades, hooking into a low pressure system making its way across the North Atlantic, and finally beating into a high pressure on the final approach to the Channel. We are back on well-travelled ground now, and our information and experience should result in more reliable routing.
For now the rain pours down, and we are happy to be maintaining 10kts of boatspeed. Any hour, the sky should clear, the north-easter fill, and the boat begin to pound into trade wind swells. The crew has profited from the downpour to shower and wash clothes between sail changes. Unfortunately, the humidity has killed the crew correspondence computer. Efforts are underway to resuscitate it, but I suspect a soggy motherboard.
Our routing indicates an arrival date around the 7 April, a new record. This presupposes a seamless transit of the several weather gates on the route north, and keeping this floating pitchfork together for the duration. In spite of our dodg’em car transit of the south atlantic, we appear to have set a new world record for the fastest transit from the Horn to the Equator. One of the little depressions we had so much difficulty negotiating has grown to hurricane force. It hit the Brazilian coast with 90 mph winds, destroying homes and killing seven people. Timing is everything!