Onboard Reporter, Amory Ross, gives an update on the team’s delivery run back to France on our IMOCA 60.
General consensus on day nine is that if finally feels like a delivery. There are probably a few contributing factors there, but my guess is that we’ve [adequately] adjusted to life onboard at last. It took nine days, but bunking arrangements are pretty locked in and people are getting some rest, the galley and head routines are practiced to confidence, and what was once really foreign has suddenly become our day to day. I’m not sure going around the world this way would be recommended, but for another five days or so until France, think we will manage!
On the sailing side, nine days has given the group plenty of opportunity to learn what life with autopilot is like. The Ocean Race hasn’t concluded what to do with autopilot, but it’s good to understand its strengths and weaknesses early. We’ve also seen just about every sail, through a variety of conditions. The sailplan is very different than a VO65 or Volvo 70, with the forestay-less furler configuration, deck-spreaders, and rotating mast.
It’s also fair to say we’ve made plenty of mistakes – many to Charlie’s visible amusement (though he’d probably admit to having made all the same mistakes!) – but mistakes are kind of a necessary evil when it comes to learning new boats and new concepts. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, and, for example, after a midnight weed clearing exercise gone wrong, everyone now knows where the “rudder-down” line lives, and how important it is to have pre-loaded on a winch. It’s just the beginning of the process and we’re lucky to have this time to iron out some big wrinkles.
It also feels like we’ve entered the North Atlantic. Water and wind are noticeably cooler. The volatility of South Atlantic tropics and equatorial weather feels behind us, which makes the routing game a little easier, too. We’ve got a lingering high pressure ridge to round before latching onto a typical November Low moving East that will carry us on the rhumbline to France with little fuss, hopefully In time to talk with family back home on Thanksgiving. We’ve seen very little wildlife from inside the roofed-cockpit and the days have been short, wet and gray, but the next few look sunny and pleasant. The roof is open at the moment and it’s great to be outside again, Northern Gannets scanning our wake for lunch!