Vendée Globe  
93 days 22 hours 52 minutes

SOH IMOCA60 SHIP’S LOG – NÁNDOR FA, 20 – 23 Jun 2016 – Transat to Newport

Ship’s log from Nándor Fa on 20-21-22-23 June, on the way to Newport (USA RhI) from Les Sables d’Olonne (Fr).

20. 06., 11:00 GMT

The night and the morning were beautiful, with clear blue sky, full moon (almost), and a beautiful sunrise. Then somehow during the morning it got cloudy. Patrick, out of pleasure, keeps steering the boat manually.

We changed tacks two hours ago and are now heading S – SW, which is going to be followed by NW. The wind is coming from 250°, but it’s not enough to stay positive, we must follow the wind “path”, not to run out of it.

We didn’t create a systematic order in shifts, I’m basically behaving as if I was sailing solo, the guys can go rest any time they want, or can. Of course they help me in everything, which comes in handy many times. The list of little settings that need to be done is growing, which will be the task when I get to Newport. Some of them can be done now too, when the conditions allow it.

All in all, I really like the new rig. The new mast is great, and the sails look pretty. What’s different, is the sound of the standing rig. It makes a different noise than the one before, I have to learn it.

There was no time to calibrate the instruments before leaving, but it’s not a big problem. I’ll have to get it done when I get back to Les Sables.

We were having a nap in the cockpit with Karcsi, when the wind suddenly increased to 27 knots from 17. The boat kicked off, healing strongly. I jumped to get my drysuit jacket. By the time I’m ready to reef, the wind is back at where it was. Everything’s the same, except our nap is over.

We started exactly three days ago and have done 515 SM, which is quite satisfying given the circumstances.

21. 06., 08:40 UTC, in the morning.

Fog, drizzling rain, visible distance is 300m, air pressure 1024 mb. We’re at the right Northern corner of a broad anticyclone, miles away from the point where we will tack and then head towards the Azores. From the afternoon on, we’ll be having a light reaching wind, which promises a faster pace than this beating phase we just left behind.

With the ten-day forecast the routing has reached Newport, which means we could be arriving as it says if the conditions ahead are as promised. The whole transat should take an approximate two weeks counting from the start, which is shorter than what I had planned out of safety.

Ever since the whale’s visit, there is no life around us, neither on water, nor in the air.

In the afternoon.

I tacked. I thought this was the wind that we’d been waiting for to take us towards the islands. The wind had decreased to ten knots and I thought I’d unreef so we might as well go faster. By the time I was done, the wind rose back to 25 kts and turned 30 degrees. All right, reef back, tack back towards west. The wind we’ve been waiting for came two hours later, after 4 days of beating. After an hour of close hauled ride it suddenly turned 40 degrees behind us, we’ve been broad reaching ever since. It’s a nice fast ride, though we’re going opposite the waves of the previous wind and it feels like if we had opened the punch box.

It’s almost non-stop raining, temperature is around 16°C.

17:10 GMT, 43° 22,5′ N, 017° 24,6′ W, everything is all right.

22. 06. in the morning, 07:10 UTC  

Clouds don’t lie. 

Yesterday was fast and enjoyable the whole day. The wind had turned to the forecasted northerly direction and swiped up with 10-14 knots. Until the evening. By the dawn it had calmed to 6-7 kts. We do go forward, but not as fast as we should have been according to the routing and I worry that we might miss the shuttle at the Azores.

A fishingboat passed behind us, towing a huge net. I checked the AIS and saw 5 more of them within a 30 SM radius. The ocean is 4000 m deep here, I’m surprised that they fish here.

Around 9 o’clock a thin dark streak appeared on the sky, which based on my experiences means something in terms of wind. It happened as I suspected: now the wind speed is 13 knots from 350°, our speed is above 10 and I’m feeling much happier. I’m happy that we’re faster, and Patrick is happy that he doesn’t have to winch me up to the top of the mast. He went back to his sleeping bag to continue his dream that was so absurd he wasn’t able to explain me.

When I lied down to have some rest in the afternoon, I woke up to the sound of sails clapping. Karcsi and Patrick were wondering which way to go. At 5 kts of wind coming from the back, there is pretty much no other option than to keep clapping. Patrick is addicted to the routing. Taken everything into consideration including the clouds, I turned the boat towards W and now we’re sailing with 5 knots to the west. Well, that is where our destination is, after all. A vast high pressure bubble had developed around us and it doesn’t seem to want to move in the next two days. We need to get out of here somehow. Even in the most promising direction it takes at least 80 miles. At the moment we’re heading towards a cloud which might or might not have some wind for us, we’ll see soon.

Clouds don’t lie! Here at sea, they are not formed by geographic relief, nor by thermal activities. They are formed by the wind, and only the wind.

Similar to the one in the morning, a 12 kts breeze came from North but it lasted shorter than the previous one. We are doing good, we eat well, everything is all right onboard.

17:05 GMT, 40° 57,5′ N, 020° 30,7′ W, done 875 SM since Les Sables d’Olonne.

23. 06. 2016

The wind is still not the one that we could use to go in the right direction, but at least we’re sailing. We had a mast climb with some ‘déja vu’, and I saw a half a metre dorsal fin… we hoisted the new C0 and it looked beautiful, perfect size and convincing power.

Here is the log:

06. 23. 09:20 UTC

Yesterday night I got bored of the fact that we’re going to “Kenya”, and that we do not progress in the direction we’re supposed to. We pulled down the A7 and hoisted the C0. Previously we had to bring down the halyard from the top of the mast, which was not easy due to the waves. I was the one who went up, wrestling with the mast the whole time as it was trying to throw me down at all costs. Meanwhile I realized how vividly the memory of a certain mast incident lives in me. The one where I knocked my head to the rail and covered everything in blood in the 2015-16 Barcelona World Race. Finally we hoisted the new C0 and it looked beautiful: perfect size and convincing power. This sail goes up until the end of the rig, same as the J2, it allows us to sail close hauled. It’s smaller by a few square metres than the previous one and its limits are somewhat different, but based on the new rules this was the right decision. (according to the new rules we can only bring 8 sails to the VG2016, so I merged the top-genua with the C0 into one multi-functional sail.)

The C0 worked well during the whole night, we could sail in very good angles in light winds. By the morning – in accordance with the forecast – our wind stopped, and we did too. I started the engine, we will probably need it in the following 8 hours. We are puffing on water as flat as oil, under dark grey clouds with 5,7 knots towards the Azores.

We were talking with Patrick, chewing on apples in the cockpit, when 30 metres away from the boat a 50 cm dorsal fin appeared. My darling was a shark, but it didn’t show any more of itself than its fin, then it disappeared as it came. The water-makers work well, we get delicious water after quite a short time. If both are working at the same time, our 20 litre can is full within an hour. Earlier with the same amount of energy input they created salty water by filtering out only fish and seaweed, nothing else. I sent them back to the manufacturer, they did something and now they’re working.

According to the GRIB (weather forecast file downloaded through satellites) we won’t have anything until the evening. To be exact, we will have winds that are under the “sailable” limit. Around 10am in the morning the sky started to clear and a little wind flew in, but not from N where we were expecting it from. It came from SE. A half an hour later we were happily sailing with 8 knots in the right direction.

We were enjoying the gift wind until the afternoon, then it calmed and turned behind us. C0 down, A2 up, but by the time we changed everything the wind calmed so much, this light sail couldn’t stand stretched either. I almost pulled it down out of anger, when approx. 150 metres away from us a small group of whales appeared. While we were watching them amazed, the sail stood out too. For a little while we were strolling in the same direction as the whales, then they went away and we kept going. Not long ago we gybed and are now going to the West with dying and reviving winds. I’m just hoping the promised Northerly will come in and we can go with a better speed.

17:50 GMT, 39° 46′ N, 022° 50,6′ W, everything is all right.