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93 days 22 hours 52 minutes

Nándor Fa skipper’s log of  Spirit of Hungary – 10th March – BWR South Pacific Ocean heading to Cape Horn

Ships’s log 9th March, 19 40 UTC, in the morning. I’m done with my morning coffee and breakfast, sitting on the bean bag thinking about important and less important things. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the Renault guys, they are having a very rough time, tough conditions to round Cape Horn – 10 metres big seas, wind strength of a gale. If I were them, I would take it slower.

As I’m sitting and wondering, I suddenly hear something knocking outside the hull. I quickly look out and I can’t see the front half of the J1 sail bag. I go out, the bag is torn apart, the sail is hanging on the side, and the bag’s carabiner keeps knocking on the hull. My first reaction is to start pulling it back but it doesn’t move, at the same time waves keep punching it hard as we run with 16-20 knots speed – and of course they are punching me now too.

I shout for C, but no answer, he’s sleeping. I manage to pull up the first, the second, and the third sections of the sail but then my abilities stop me. The front rope still holds, and the harness that we used to tie it down with, holds too. I beat the top of the cabin, maybe C would hear me, but no sign. I hold the part of the sail that I managed to get on board with my left hand, and ease the harness with my right, perhaps it would come easier that way. Nothing happens, just a few powerful waves run over me, I can feel it from both my neck and the boots. I shout again, as loud as I can, finally C hears me and steps out almost naked, staring at me with bunged up eyes from behind the cover. He quickly realized the situation and ran to get some clothes. We were much more efficient together. As he held the sail, I untied it in the front and we could pull it back in and tie it down, everything is all right.

We can only free the J1 by cutting the bag, but that bag is destroyed anyways. Then we pulled the sail into the cabin carefully, not to wet everything, then we pull it to the front where it’s safe. We clean up all the water, thank each other for the cooperation and C starts making some breakfast while I try to change for dry clothes. Again we noted, that sailing down here is really something else…very different than elsewhere in the World.

The whole day we had good speed, but we were sailing in rather uncomfortable conditions, full of gusts and aggressive waves. We had changed the solent for stay before dark, then reefed the third line too. 40 knots of wind, topped with 45-47 knots gusts.

Our attention was drawn to some strange ticking noise that has been ticking for a while now. Every time when the boat swings to the side, I can hear it. We thought it might be the bottom of the mast. I was listening the whole night, looking for anything that might serve as a telltale sign about the origin of the noise, and I found it. It wasn’t the mast, but the keel hydraulics cylinder that keeps moving 1 — 1,5 mm back and forth in the self-aligning head. I hope it doesn’t cause bigger problems than what it sounds like. I’m worried for things that doesn’t work the way they are supposed to, which is quite a few things on board.

18 30 UTC, in the morning.

In the night I managed to get in contact with the manufacturer of the hydraulics and informed them about the phenomenon. They asked back for further details. I explained them, and asked what we can expect in terms of the internal construction, and what we could do without necessary tools. Since then, we received just as much information from them, as from the albatross flying around. A little bit later I’ll let them know what I think of this communication… as this could be a life-or-death issue.

We haven’t changed the sail set since yesterday, but we couldn’t even if we wanted to. For a long time it’s been between 35 an 45 knots from South, South-West. Within these rather aggressive waves and strong gusts, the boat keeps its direction heart-warmingly. Of course this is not just the boat, but the auto pilot works excellent too. I say aggressive waves, but probably they are perfectly normal waves, but it’s us who’s been running with 17-22 knots here, every wave becomes aggressive with this speed.

The Renault has safely rounded Cape Horn, Bravo, Congratulations! I could not have been an easy day.

On 10th March at 19 50 UTC our position is: 51° 32,9′ S, 116° 10,6′ W,
49° left until Horn.

BWR video conference 10th March – Nandor’s riport:

“We have quite difficult and tough conditions at the moment. Outside there is 38-48 knots of wind from the south-west, and we are making progress but it is really tough sailing. Big waves, very aggressive new waves, and a difficult life on board.
“Basically we are happy because we have good winds and good progress to the east at the moment, towards Cape Horn. But the conditions are quite tough and we are fighting. We have of course small problems all the time in these conditions, but we solve these problems and right now we are sailing with 13-22 knots of speed. This is quite rough and the boat is moving very much, so the life is not easy on board. But anyway, we are ok!
“Right now we have big waves, and since more than a day – one or two days – we have strong-westerly winds and now we have about 4-5 metres of waves. Sometimes the boat lays down, and after this of course you have to keep going.
“If we can follow the weather forecast we would have the same winds for the next two or three days, and maybe a little bit lighter conditions closer to the Cape Horn.
“Fortunately our autopilot is working perfectly and we do not have to go out and hand-steer. It would be very difficult because outside is very cold, the water is very cold and the air also very cold – less than 10 degrees, and freezing cold. So if we are going out for sail changes or any kind of work half an hour is enough in these conditions.
“I feel now that [Cape Horn] is quite far away, about five days, but we expecting lighter winds and better conditions than we have now. But nothing is sure. In twodays or three days we will be able to see much more precisely what we can expect, but I say again as far as we can we can have nice, lighter conditions.
“I don’t think about the end of the South because it’s not the end. When we round Cape Horn we’ll be near the end, but we’re not there.
“Also after Cape Horn around the Falkland Islands can be tough conditions so not only until Cape Horn is passed but a couple of days after the Horn we’ll also be deep in the South and they can be very tough. So I don’t think about how it will end!”