All according to plan - almost

It's all nice and well when you plan your to do list around a tight schedule, the weather has been fantastic for weeks making every job a pleasant relaxing activity... Well, not today.
I'm here looking at my pack of sand paper i got to do the bottom. it won't be a problem to wet it. It's pouring cats and dogs and the prospect of standing in this all day makes me cringe...

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Sent using a Sony Ericsson mobile phone

Significant reducion of Ice limit

The International Ice patrol has updated the limit of all know ice and there is some encouraging news, with a significant reduction of all known ice following a recent reconnaissance flight.

The ice now extends to 44N, which is markedly better than it was just a few days ago, even the number of icebergs in each 1 degree box has reduced and how we have to wait and see what will happen to the bergs that are being carried by the Labrador current, will they melt or drift onto our path?

I will race for IRC trophy

I received today my IRC certificate and I am pleased, my boat turned 25 this year and i suppose it triggered some extra age discount (don't know really - formula is secret). I suspect I had some benefit from losing the runners but a penalty on rig factor for extra spreaders so not much change there.

A pallet of Caesar please

This week felt super short, just monday I was on a delayed train from Plymouth and now I'm again waiting for a signal failure to be resolved on my way to Southampton.

All under control

The control panel is finished: in order of appearance handheld VHF, sat phone, barometer, pc monitor, speaker, led white light, sea-me buzzer, radar buzzer, log battery monitor, gps, engine battery voltmeter, engine hours clock, radar, am/fm/ssb receiver, auto pilot remote, VHF, clipper compass and off course alarm, sea-me, ais transponder, navtex, ais backup receiver, switch panel, red led lights above, Waterproof keyboard, mouse.
That should keep me entertained as usually the kit starts failing from day 2 onwards.

Pimp my ride

I walked into halfords and thought it would be too complicated to explain that due to my limited power supply on the boat i wanted to replace my cabin lights with energy efficient leds plus i needed some in red to ensure i didnt ruin my night vision.
So, i walked in on a very sunny day, took my shades off and announced 'i wanna pimp my ride, what selection of cool lights do you do?' Captain chav, on duty that morning, guided me through a wide selection of strip leds, concealed light points, blue spots... 'All 12v, just wire it to the car'.

Ferrari 3936

Another day of jobs on the boat and finally some visible progress, i painted my shiny sail number on deck, ferrari red again, mixed with sand it also improves the safety of the forward deck as the old non slip paint is a bit tired...

If you want to go fast, Ferrari red

There are few words to explain what unbelievable pain it the back it was to fit a simple gps repeater in the cockpit, the unit has a cable with three wires, simple.

Did I close the gas?

I woke up in the middle of the night in a sweat with that feeling you get when you're not sure whether you forgot something important like close the gas before going on holiday. A second of confusion ensued, why was i in a sweat? Where am I?
The moring ropes then tightened and squeaked as the boat wobbled in her comfy marina berth, i had left the electric fan heater on too high for my new OSTAR hollow fibre duvet: sweat explained. Had i forgotten something then? Of course, my brother's birthday! Pfew!

Great Western

Once again i'm afraid i'm not talking about the wind we might encounter during OSTAR but the First Great Western train service which is running late again. Oh well, at least i'm practising my patience skills and resigned acceptance of the uncontrollable that will be so important during the race. When the wind will pipe too strong or drop flat to leave me stuck i'll draw to my inner strength and remember that i've made it through every dark tunnel before and each time i thought i'll never move again a gentle motion evenatually broke the endless wait.

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.