Underway in the fourth leg of the Global Ocean Race

We've been at sea for two days, i wrote an earlier update which somehow
was never sent so here is a summary of our start of the fourth leg of the
Global Ocean Race, Punta del Este Uruguay to Charleston US.

The start in Punta was relatively quiet although I was a bit annoyed with
the spectators boat all over the starting area but all was well once we
got off. Whilst Cessna was first over the line Phesheya took a spectacular
shortcut between a rocky reef and the beach at the southern tip of the
Punta del Este peninsula and the two boats were soon in the lead with
Sec Hayai in third and us trailing behind.

A tale of celebrations, hard work and love from Punta del Este

It's been three weeks since we arrived in Punta del Este following our tough Southern Ocean leg from Wellington around Cape Horn. Life ashore brings always a great variety of emotions, from the happyness of celebrating the arrival, to the hard work we need to put in to prepare the boat for the next leg to the inevitable stress of the expenses we face each time we stop. Luckily we are being hosted in the rooms of the Yacht Club Punta del Este who has been extremely welcoming and nice to us as otherwise life in the Monte Carlo of South America is painfully expensive.

Sergio Frattaruolo joins Nannini for final legs of Global Ocean Race

With two weeks to the start of the fourth leg of the Global Ocean Race there's a crew change on Financial Crisis. The Italian former Mini 650 sailor Sergio Frattaruolo will replace Hugo Ramon to sail the final 2 stages of the race with Marco Nannini, from Punta del Este to Chaleston and from there to Les Sables d'Olonne.

Sergio, following his participation in the solo Transat 650 last November will step to the larger Class40s with the goal of gaining experience ahead of the launch of his own solo attempt of the 2013/2014 Global Ocean Race.

We are in Punta del Este! Celebrations Celebrations Celebrations!

We made it! We are in Punta del Este Uruguay, 35 days at sea! We have
sailed through gale force winds, we reached across the depths of the
Southern Ocean with albatrosses to guard our progress, we clenched our
teeth through the icebergs, we fought with the icy winds from Anctartica,
we rounded the most dreaded cape in the world, we sailed through the snow
capped cliffs of la Tierra del Fuego, we caught kelp in our rudders and
watched spectacular sunsets and sunrises, we smelt land by the shores of
Argentina and crossed the muddy waters of the Plata river, but most of all
we kept our dream alive, one step closer to home, one step closer to
racing around the world.

Glorious sunshine for final push to Uruguay

We have just over 400 miles to go to the finish line in Punta del Este,
the permanent cloud cover of the past few days has broken up during the
night and i stood my watch in the cockpit as a magnificent sunrise brought
summer to our world. Since we left the icy weather of the high latitudes
it has been remarkable to watch the temperature rise very fast as we
sailed north. Water temperature is now at nearly 20 degrees and today I'm
sure we can get rid of all our base and mid layers and finally sport some
shorts and t-shirts.

Tough head winds make for frustrating home run

I guess we all assumed that once turned the corner from the Horn
everything was going to be easy, I certainly did, so I was a little
surprised when last night the wind piped up to a fierce 35-40 knots dead
on the nose in a nasty chop and a mysterious 2 knots adverse current. The
net result was 12 hours of very nasty sailing and very little progress.

With frustration building quickly we came to the stark realisation that
that the last stretch from the Strait of Le Maire to Punta was not to be
ftaken for granted.

Finally back in the Atlantic!

If rounding the horn is the accepted "cool dude" turning point, I feel
much better now that we are finally sailing in the Atlantic. After Cape
Horn we headed north towards the Strait of Le Maire, between the Tierra
del Fuego and the Isla De Los Estatos which marks the gate that opens
into the Atlantic leaving the Southern Ocean behind. The strait has a bit
of a reputation for its strong currents and overfalls so much so that most
yachts racing up this way tend to pass to the outside and east of the Isla
De Los Estatos.

We did it! We rounded Cape Horn!!!

What a day, we finally rounded Cape Horn! I think it will take me a while
to fully process this fact but I'm sure it'll live in my thoughts for the
rest of my life, arriving here has been at times tremendously tough and
yesterday just when the weather was finally improving we were left with a
a last minute reminder of where we are, a squall came through during the
night bringing another stint of 50 knots winds and lots of snow, it was
quite surreal... In some respects it is an anticlimax, you wait for this
moment all your life and there you are holding a sign which reads CAPE
HORN, the only indication that you have made it apart of course from the
GPS position.

Racing again to the Horn after the storm

We are through the peak of the storm and we're happy to report that we
didn't sustain any damage...

Cape Horn gale: we'll wait for the worst to go through

A nasty gale is brewing south of us, the worst of it is headed straight
for Cape Horn just at the same time we were due to round the infamous
cape. After much debate we decided it was simply too risky for us to carry
on heading for such a dangerous randez-vous and have instead slowed down
and we'll let the worst of the gale blow through before resuming our
course with improving weather behind us rather than the risk of being
cornered in a lee shore in nasty waves forming on the continental shelf
and no where to run.

In 12 hours the centre of the low should be east of us and moving north
eastwards away from us.

Finally into the trade winds

The struggle to reach the stable trade winds seems to have lasted an
eternity, the fleet progress has been very slow compared to the schedule
we had imagined when leaving Punta del Este and only Cessna at the front
has been keeping steady averages since reaching these steady winds a day
ahead of us.

So far and for several days we seemed to have fairly stable winds at night
then we'd get stopped during the day in flukey winds and sudden rain
showers caused presumably by the high temperatures and moist air becoming
unstable. This morning for the first time the winds held strong after
sunrise and the sky is unmistakeably changed, little white fluffy clouds
are scattered regularly around instead of massive cumulus formations
typical of the unstable air masses of the last few days, see the photo for
an example.

We've emerged from this section of the race in second place squeezing a
lead of 60 miles over Phesheya, our gamble to go offshore at Cabo Frio
paid off eventually. I think we can now expect a drag race to the doldrums
where things could get shaken again. I may be wrong so we'll certainly
keep a watchful eye on the Dutch and the Southafrincans and try cover our
backs from a likely attack...

We had a few issues with the NKE electronics suddenly losing the boat
speed reading, then the compass reading, all misteriously working again by
simply powering off an on the system, luckily all the problems occurred
in light airs and not while sailing with the big spinnaker in strong winds
like during leg 3 when a similar failure caused the boat to go off in a
big gybe resulting in the big spinnaker to be torn in half (and
subsequently repaired in Punta del Este).

Another misterious source of worry came from the primary alternator we
rely on to charge the batteries, for 2 consecutive days it seemed to have
given up the ghost, only to wake up gingerly this morning and resume
service as if nothing had ever happened.

So far, save for a spinnaker sheet which I quite stupidly lost overboard
during a manouvre we havent really had any damage or serious problems,
let's hope things carry on like this to make Charleston a stress free and
cheap stopover. The budget has long ago been totally depleted. In Punta we
were being hosted in free accommodation by the Yacht Club Punta del Este
and for the other expenses i relied on the generosity of many readers who
have sent donations through www.marconannini.com/help which i'm very
grateful for. We're hoping to find a host family during our relatively
brief Charleston stopover and hopefully the price of food will be no where
near the inflated prices of Punta del Este where an espresso could cost
over 3 euros! For now we're getting in the swing of our freeze dried diet,
the last fresh item, an apple, was eaten yesterday.