Vendée Globe  
93 days 22 hours 52 minutes

SOH Ship’s log from Nándor: 30th June – 5th July, on the way to Newport – Crossed the difficult Golf stream – Getting closer and closer

“the main stream of the Golf with its 3-4 knots makes our lives difficult onboard… Suddenly, at least 6  enormous floating factories appeared around us, with speeds about 16 kts…”

[Chronological order from bottom to top]

4th July, co-skipper Patrik Viau’s log 

As I am writing, the wind is falling down, from 17kt to just 13kt, so we start to slow down, as forecasted. It is good for those sleeping at least, as we dont have all the banging around.

Here we have now 257NM to go and we are on the continental table now, just 100m deep water instead of 2600m some miles ago. So cargoships + fishing boats to watch for now…

I am in my night-long watch. It is the first one I can feel such real cold and moist in the air. I can not stay outside without full gear, and I think about digging in my bag for a second layer of polar. I just send back the full main sail. It made me get hot for now.

The mood is really about how and when we arrive. I feel very happy that we are about to get there, and in the same time I try to focus on enjoying the moment as I know it won’t be soon I will do a similar trip. I am very very glad Nandor accepted my proposal to join the for the transat.

I was thinking this afternoon about a funny way to decribe the sensation of upwind in SOH: It could be like if you are hanging on a giant’s shoe who is walking steadily at 2 steps per 4 seconds. Up, Down, Bang, Up, Down, Bang,Up, Down, Bang etc… I could not sleep well these last 2 days. It is going to be a loooong second part of night for me.

Anyway, we are going on at almost 10kt boat speed in almost the right direction 270¤!

Cheers from 2xSeven, Patrick

Ship’s log from Nándor: 3rd July, in the morning. 

We’re sailing totally upwind, we’re getting it in complete symmetry from the West. We’re not enjoying the punches. 19-21 knots, 1 reef, J2. Our direction is perfect but at the same time we’re going right against the waves. You’ve got to give up something to have another one right…

Finally there is a current which brings us forward. Well, not towards Newport, just the direction we’re headed at the moment, at 226°. We had to reef the second line too, as the wind is permanently above 20 kts.

In the afternoon.

We’ve had these condition the whole day, except when along with a slight dark “beam” on the sky a 28 kts breeze arrived. The only option to furl the J2 and replace it with the J3 without any damage was to bear away. It took a few minutes but it was much safer. Ever since this “beam”, our wind has been rather rhapsodic, always changing direction and speed. We wanted to follow the routing and turned to NW but we were sailing in such a negative angle we turned back to SW immediately. I didn’t like what I saw on the computer so I downloaded a fresh GRIB and reloaded the routing according to the latest forecasts. Et voilá, it didn’t try to turn us anymore but suggested another 100 miles in the SW direction. It’s not an easy ride though, the winds that keep coming are what I wouldn’t wish to my enemies either. They are changing so constantly it’s impossible to choose sails correctly. If I set everything for the base wind, it’s too much for the gusts…if I chose my set to be just right for the gusts, it’s too light for the base wind. On top of everything the keel shouldn’t be canted either, because in lighter blows the boat sits back and the waves are hitting it from the bottom unbearably. Only 420 SM until Newport.

22:00 GMT, 39° 53,4′ N, 062° 19,4′ W, everything is all right.

A few sentences from Patrick Viau co-skipper: 3rd July.

“We are fine.
Struggling with delicate winds and currents. The wind changes in minutes from different strenght and angles and not necessary matching the forecasts… The Gulf Stream currents are strong and we could not see matching real life and forecasts. In couple of hrs of difference, we can have from 2B up to 6B, depending on which side of the cloud we are. We could not make a straight track on the map since a while. Waves are sometimes really chaotic due to wind changes and currents.

Difficult progress overall.

You know, it is not not comfortable upwind… trying not to burn your fingers when serving boiling water for the  TeaTime bergamote or verveine before going to bed…

We see more and more cargoships and sometimes checking if they seen us. We are visible as “solo sailor” on the AIS for them.

I feel that everyone will be happy to arrive as the progress of last days was not easy.”

Ship’s log from Nándor: 2nd July, 00:40 GMT

It’s completely dark, I’m just assuming the sails are there above me, and can see those few phosphorescent stripes. I’m having a nap sitting at the helm, listening to the sound of the hydro generator with closed eyes, which is humming sometimes louder, sometimes quieter next to the rudders, depending on our speed. The red and green lights on the two sides at the back of the boat reflect on the whirring water running next to us, in which the rudders plow frothy lanes. One of the halyards is clapping rhapsodically on the mast, sometimes pausing and other times beating it so furiously as if it wanted to break it to pieces. Of course it doesn’t do any harm, just the mast and the hull both have perfect acoustic features that amplify the sound. We are running fast in the night, banging and whirring loud. My senses have gotten so trained I can tell how many knots the wind speed and our speed are, or whether the set of sails is all right or it’s too much, just by listening to the sounds. As I venture outside to adjust the sails, some buckets of water trustfully pour on me, all my clothes are wet. I’m not cold, it’s a warm night – the Golf Stream warms the area. According to the map the stream should be helping us here, but instead it takes 3 miles an hour from us. It’s a pity because there’s a significant difference between sailing with 15 knots and 10-12, but anyways, there’s only 300 SM left and we’ll be over the whole jumbled “river” of currents. The afternoon’s dark and showery weather was replaced by a bright starry sky. It’s not raining anymore, but most of the wind got away with the rain too, and we’re left with 18-20 knots wind speed from SW. I changed the stay for the solent but I didn’t unreef yet, I’m waiting a little bit. Karcsi went to sleep, Patrick arrived in the seat opposite me. We’re following the night’s events and listening to the sounds together.

In the morning.

We were in a somewhat stable ride so I went to rest, Patrick stayed on the watch. It was still dark when I felt and also heard that the wind is calming. Patrick unreefed one line, then another one. It was daybreak when they called me out with Karcsi, that there is a decision to make because we’re going NE. We turned immediately and we’ve been keeping the  270 – 280 ever since.

A “beam” cloud have swiped over us towards South and left some wind for us from the exact opposite direction than the S-SW before. We quickly downloaded the forecast but it didn’t seem to know about this random breeze. Northerly wind was nowhere near on the map. It’s just a front which passed us but that’s considered as a local phenomenon, not as permanent wind condition. So we were waiting for the real thing to come back. Sometime before noon it should develop. It’s just a matter of time.

There should be 20 knots by now, but instead there are only 5 coming from W. We stopped, I started the engine in order to get closer to the fresh wind but it’s just a nice illusion. I see clouds that imply the possibility of something but they are much further than I’d like them to be. We’ll see.

After an hour of engine-ride we got a little breeze and we kicked off in the right direction. This kind of wind comes slowly. It blows into our sails, we start heeling, then before we realize it it’s gone. Calm again. Then the breeze comes and tastes us once more for a little bit longer, which is followed by a few minutes of nothing again. It’s building up slowly, with pauses. We can see the clouds of the real wind above us but the wind hasn’t arrived yet, it hits an invisible obstacle we don’t see. It’s getting darker and darker, finally the rain starts. It is amazing how the same process that builds up the wind, can kill it too in many cases. It’s not fortunate to be around these times but what are you going to do…

14:50 UTC, we’re sailing with 10 knots again.

15:00 GMT, 39° 33,4′ N, 057° 21,9′ W, everything is all right.

02. 07. 21:40 GMT

Today was not easy for the boat or for people either, it’s been an exhausting period of uncomfortable waves, that are coming non stop. An endless series of showers started around noon, by now we’ve had ten of them. The first one introduced itself with 28 knots, which is far over the limit of our normal set of sails. Suddenly it seemed more efficient to furl the J2 and roll out the J3 jib. There was no time to reef but in the end it wasn’t necessary, we were racing stably with 15 knots without having been laid down and without losing the rudder ballast. The following showers brought similar winds, we didn’t have any problems with them. The only annoying thing was when it turned upwind, when we had to reef and keep changing the job from shower to shower. Now the 90° TWA is back, we can sail freely. The next 90 miles are going to be all about counter-currents. We’re going to cross the main stream of the Golf Stream two times, in 3-4 kts of current speed at times. It takes a lot from us, but we cannot avoid it.

Now the guys are outside in the rain, watching if the cargo ships that are coming our way are really where they appear on the screen – in other words: whether they are in a safe distance. Suddenly, at least 6  enormous floating factories appeared around us, with speeds about 16 kts. I called one of them on the radio and asked where they see our AIS signal on their map. They relieved me that I can bee seen all right, there was no need to worry. During the night, within poor visibility conditions it doesn’t hurt to make sure.

SOH Ship’s log from Nándor: 1st July, 00:10 GMT

After we’d found wind, we waited a little while for it to develop. It’s the 30-minute rule. (I need to wait for at least half an hour to see if the wind is going to stabilize, otherwise I’m making a fool of myself.) Half an hour later we pulled down the A3 and hoisted the C0  [code zero sail] instead. We need to sail closer and with this we can stay closer hauled. For the moment we’re sailing on 100° TWA [True Wind Angle], wind speed 8-12 kts. Later it’s supposed to increase and become more westerly.

SOH IMOCA60 skipper N_FA for Vendée Globe 2016 ©mixpress

SOH IMOCA60 skipper N_FA training for Vendée Globe 2016 ©mixpress

We had a nice sunset, we could see all kinds of colours from orange to indigo, the sky decorated with ‘sheep’. Patrick’s sleeping and we’re on the watch with Karcsi, then Karcsi’s sleeping while we’re watching with Patrick. I can sleep next to both of them, but I jump immediately as the boat moves differently. No matter who’s at the helm, my ears are always alert like a hound’s. I can hear and feel everything even when asleep.

14:40 GMT,

During the night we changed the C0 to solent as the wind has become tougher. A huge black “blanket” came above us from S-SW with such a speed that looked as if it wanted to swipe us away. Well it didn’t swipe us but the wind speed has gone permanently above 16 knots. By the morning there were 20 kts waiting for us, we reefed the first line. Now that we were fully dressed I thought we might as well put the C0 back in the bag and hoist the stay. We don’t need it yet but it’s better to have it ready, than having to deal with it later within more difficult conditions. When the time comes we’ll just have to roll it out.

The waves are coming against us, we swing and jolt heavily, life has gotten more difficult onboard. The ‘walking around in shorts’ time is over, my basic daily outfit is the drysuit and boots, plus a jacket when I go outside. In 22-24 kts wind at 85° TWA, our speed is 12 – 15 knots. For a short time the current helped us but now it runs opposite with 1 knot. It’s going to stay like this, or get even stronger as we’re approaching our destination. From now on, conditions are becoming tougher in the following 2 days, and it’s going to be upwind.

By the afternoon it got rough.

Black clouds are running, from time to time there are heavy rains, distance of visibility is 50 metres. We are experiencing the side effects of a front, it’s unmistakable. Now we are on 2 reefs, with the stay jib. With this combination we’re good to go up to 35 kts. I thought I’d come in and have some rest but before that, I’ll just pull on the main a little bit. Right at that moment as I put my head out, I was covered by a huge wave. I was soaking wet from bottom to top. I deserved it. Why would I risk this for no important reason? It takes 10 seconds to put on a jacket and 20 minutes to dry myself.

As far as I can see, conditions are going to stay like this for 2 more days. The guys can now taste the real good stuff. This will be something to tell their friends about.

19:20 GMT, 38° 48,2′ N, 054° 30′ W, everything is all right.

Ship’s log from Nándor: 30th June, 00:40 GMT

It’s night. The sun went down just recently but it’s already so dark, we can see the stars twinkle. At night in the chilled air condense showers are regular, the only question is if we’re within their zone or not. If yes, their direction makes a major difference: they either kill our wind or increase it, sometimes it just makes it turn closer or away. Tonight we were caught by only one shower, which came from the right direction.

At the moment there is a 14-knot wind coming from 110° TWA and it’s perfect, we’re sailing with 10 knots. It should hang on until the morning and then turn more to the south, according to the forecast. If that happens, we’ll be able to keep the track our routing has drawn.

In the afternoon.

Back in the middle of the night we gybed because our northerly tack was too negative. We didn’t wait to reach the routing’s height. In the morning and in the afternoon we were sailing downwind in 10 kts, then all of a sudden it it turned 30° and started to increase. We’ve been sailing on the same tack ever since, boat speed between 10 and 16 knots. Once it went above 16 kts, then we changed the A3 to solent and we progressed well for a while, then it calmed again and became too light. A3 back in the game, now our weaponry is optimal again. Since the morning we’ve beaten the routing by 20 SM, it feels good to win over digitalism. We are sailing in clear and warm weather towards west, in 1 knot counter-current.

SOH Imoca60 onboard©N_Fa

SOH Imoca60 onboard©N_Fa

20:50 GMT, this is around afternoon in local time 

A pretty big and vivid group of dolphins, and two cumulonimbus joined us. The dolphins disappeared quickly, but the showers did not. We enjoyed all of their possible effects. First the wind increased to 20 knots, A3 down, solent up. 3 minutes later it was calm again, 10 minutes later we changed back the sails and were going well for 20 minutes. The next shower brought a massive dead calm. There was nothing else I could do: solent down, engine on. After 20 minutes of puffing with the engine we managed to find a 7-knot wind.

21:00 GMT, 38° 34,4′ N, 049° 36,6′ W, everything is all right.

06. 30. 13:30 GMT  “I’m sending a printscreen of the navigation, so that the people who are interested could get a picture what it’s like.

On the picture that orange patch is the boat, behind it is the line where it came from. The green line with spots in front of the boat is the suggested route. There is a square on the routing line that’s our theoretical progress, orange is the reality. The thin blue lines with flags represent the wind, the arrows are the currents. The strength of the currents are represented by colours up to red. We can see the Gulf Stream very well with all its curves and side-currents – just like the Tisza [Hungarian river]. There is a slightly darker lane beside the route, that’s the suggested area we’re not advised go out of. This is it for now.

Pictures: ©SOH Imoca60 onboard/Adrena_navigation/screenshot

Our wind turned a bit and now we’re sailing with a good speed, in the right direction.