The end of the trade winds

Just as i write a big rain cloud on the horizon has brought a sudden
windshift, this is the first we encounter since leaving the unstable airs
around the equator and unfortunately it probably signals the end of the
stable band of the trade winds... We have 1350 miles to the finish which
will bring more variety and hard work.

Ahead of us a patch of really light airs which wont fill for another two
days and which has already caused us to slow down and forced Cessna onto
the opposite gybe.

Full speed ride towards Charleston

The past few days have finally brought the fast ride we had been promised
on the brochure, averaging over 10 knots in the right direction since
saturday afternoon. I believe we've been the fastest boat in the fleet for
a while, we caught up around 50 miles from Cessna's lead and extended by
about 15 on Phesheya since the beginning of the weekend.

During saturday night we had the big spinnaker up when we were caught by a
squall, we hanged on for dear life as the boat lept off the waves surfing
at nearly 20 knots in winds briefly gusting just over 30 knots, it was the
strongest squall we had been caught by this far so admittedly we were
unprepared to take down the spinnaker and we just rode it out in walls of
spray through the total darkness of the moonless night.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

I'm turning 34 today and this is definitely a birthday I will remember, my
first at sea in fact. During my first watch, when it was still night, i
started receiving the first birthday wishes, from Ella, from my brother,
from Roberto, my sailmaker, then my friend Enrico called me on the sat
phone early in the morning... Unfortunately i cant access facebook from
here but Ella sent through some of the many messages, there are loads
apparently. Thank you especially for those you sent directly to the boat
through my website at www.marconannini.com/sms, they really cheered me up.

Many thoughts are going through my head today, this has been a rather
special year.

From the roaring forties to the roaring V8's of Mustangs

We've been at sea just over a fortnight now and for the past few days
we've been sailing in a very regular band of the trade winds, with around
20 knots from our starboard side, the unexpected adverse current that we
had all experienced after the equator comes and goes and we still see no
sign of the favourable Guyana current that should be helping us along
the way... life aboard is very monotonous these days, revolving around
meals, naps and a few emails to family and friends interrupted by the
occasional need to trim the sails.

I guess if sailing around the world was as easy as the last few hundred
miles no one would bother, a donkey on tranquilizers could steer through
these waters but as usual the sea is not without its perils.

Sailing arond the world is like music to your ears

During the night we crossed the equator for a second time in six months,
technicalities and definitions apart i think i can now say I have sailed
around the world.

When i entered the race in April 2010, i probably didnt have a full grasp
of what i was setting out to do.

Financial Crisis Class40 for urgent sale in June - offers invited

Financial Crisis, currently holding second overall in the Global Ocean
Race is for sale or long term charter immediately after the end of the
race, due to finish in Les Sables D'Olonne around June 8th 2012.

With personal debts in the tens of thousands of pounds and currently
unemployed I must sell the boat ASAP! All meaningful offers considered for
a quick sale.

Second place throught the Celox scoring gate

The last few days have been, as predicted, a drag race towards the
north-east corner of Brasil, all tactical decision had been played out
earlier around the tricky corner near Rio de Janeiro where the wind tends
to be always on the nose and there is a nasty counter current. Since then
we've proceeded in a near perfect straight line to this next corner where
we'll all "turn left" towards Charleston. The Celox virtual scoring gate
is placed on this turning point which marks the beginning of the next
phase of the race and we're quite pleased to be crossing in second place
after the boys on Cessna who unfortunately have slipped from our reach and
are further ahead.

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.

An inch at a time we fight to go north

The last two days have been far from easy, as we approached the
continental shelf off Cabo Frio near Rio de Janeiro we were met by the
nasty Brazilian south-flowing current. The deep current is
pushed to the surface and strengthens to a strong flow where the bottom of
the ocean goes from thousands of meters to under a hundred in the space of
few miles. The adverse flow reached nearly 2 knots just as the forecast
indicated light winds ahead.

We had a tough choice to make, either head inshore in shallow waters or
offshore in deep waters where the current would be less.

Easter at sea

We've been at sea nearly 6 days, half the world is on holiday for a long
Easter weekend, for us it's been more wind and waves as we sail north east
hoping to soon reach the trade winds.

Last minute adventures in the final day of the Global Ocean Race

Today is the last full day at sea for us, in around 24 hours we should be
making landfall and reach Les Sables D'Olonne and bring to a conclusion
this epic jurney.

We've been making very good progrees with strong following winds pushing
us for days but the adventure is not quite over yet. Last night as the
front was passing through we were flying towards the finish line with our
medium spinnaker in strong building winds, admittedly we were on the limit
but it was such a joy to see the boat surfing at 15-20 knots that i wished
to take that memory home with me.

All was fine, the front came through with gusts of nearly 40 knots that
would send the boat driving through walls of spray. After the front the
wind started to ease and there seemed no further need to change down, just
then the spinnaker came down straight in the water. It was a hell of a job
to retrieve the sail on board as it was acting as a sea anchor, we tried
to stop the boat as best as we could and then an inch at a time we managed
to drag the cloth into the cockpit. Miraculously the sail did not even get
damaged, it had not been torn by the wind, instead, a stainless steel
shackle that holds the sail attached to the sock had broken, a rather
unlikely and unpredictable failure but that shackle has been twice around
the world and I have to accept these things can happen. All in all, apart
from getting soaked and tired there were no consequences to the incident,
we promptly hoisted the smaller spinnaker and kept going.

As i write we are crossing the imaginary line between Ouessant and Cape
Finisterre that delimits the bay of Biscay. The route to and from these
two points is one of the busiest shipping routes in Europe leading into
the traffic of the English Channel. We had been used to seeing the
occasional ship in the North Atlantic which is certainly the busiest of
the seas we crossed, but here, suddenly the AIS anti collision system woke
up and is currently plotting 12 ships in range, all travelling along this
route, pretty much like crossing a motorway.

Further in the bay, where the sea bed rises sharply from thousands of
meters to shallow waters we'll have to watch for french fishing boats, a
real threat, Hugo Boss was famously hit by one just outside Les Sables
D'Olonne, let's hope they are on strike today!

I'm sure a part of me will be sad when all of this will be over, but the
anticipation for the completion of this journey is enormous, my fiancee
Ella is now travelling from London to come and meet me on the finish line
and it will be a really special feeling after 10 months of separation
interrupted by brief visits at each stopover. Several family and friends
will travel to meet me in Les Sables and I think as the days will pass it
will all start to sink in, that we have sailed around the world.

Certainly the return to land will have its share of challenges, hopefully
an offer on the boat will materialise soon to enable me to deal with the
debts i racked up and get by until i find a job. None of this is life
threatening though, only a temporary hassle which i think pales in
comparison to what we're achieving. A massive thanks to those who have
sent fresh funds through www.marconannini.com/help, a webpage that was
setup as a bit of a joke and that put me back in the game when I very
nearly retired from the race in New Zealand, these contributions have made
a make or break difference to the project, thank you all!

Time to concentrate for the final stretch...

Great finish! by Kev (not verified)