The sun shone all day

The sun shone all day, a glassy sea and not a breath of wind. We left Dartmouth early in the morning to catch the tide, we skirted the Skerries bank rounded Start Point and carried on peacefully to Plymouth chatting our way in total relaxation.

Day sail to Dartmouth

It's been almost two years since i had last been here and it's a truly wonderful place. The weather was ideal for a day sail. It took us about 5 hours from plymouth which is pretty good going. I'm hungry and looking forward to having pasta for supper. My friend brought of an original bialetti coffee maker so the italianisation of the british Beagle is finally taking place. Oh, almost forgot, and fresh parmisan!

Audio message from Marco Nannini

Marco Nannini has recorded a voice message for blogSTAR. To listen to it click on the attached audio file.

The highs and lows of OSTAR preparations

You would assume sailing the boat is the hardest part, preparing for a month away from all the comforts of civilisation where you plan your life with certainties and time tables. After standing for 2 hours in Plymouth station, with train after train being cancelled, people hugging each other in despair, I start wondering whether I'll really find OSTAR, where my progress is dictated by the wind, all that frustrating, Maybe the relentless train of atlantic lows will have the taste of german efficiency in comparison.

Audio message from Marco Nannini

Marco Nannini has recorded a voice message for blogSTAR. To listen to it click on the attached audio file.

VIP engine service

Today i gave my engine a full service under the supervision of a special VIP. Arnie is a sweedish liveaboard pensioner i met in plymouth over the many weekends spent at Qab preparing the boat. He also happens to be a former F1 racing team mechanic for Giancarlo Fisichella. 'Buongiorno signore' he greated me teasingly. You see, Arnie speaks perfect italian as he spent the best part of his working life around the race tracks in italy, first in gran tourism then graduating to F1.
OSTAR is giving me a chance to meet people i wouldn't otherwise have met.


blogSTAR users now will update their twitter page too... cool!

Old keel versus new keel

As I already posted pictures of the old rudder versus the new rudder I thought I'd bare naked all my under water appendages. Here is the picture of a rather rusty old keel, as drawn in 1980 next to the new all lead keel which i fitted in 2006.

A lot of wind and a grin on my face

Today we went for the second test sail on British Beagle after the winter refit. Yesterday we had full main and full genoa and tood some shots of the new mast (looks pretty to me!).

British Beagle launched after winter refit

Saturday morning started with a flat calm, not a drop of wind, the sun occasionally broke through the misty gray sky giving perfect conditions for checking out all the new gear. Graham came down to give me a hand on the first official sail on British Beagle after dismasting on 31st July last year: that is a long time ago! And, so many things have changed on the boat that i wasnt really sure I wanted to sail alone!

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 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.