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Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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Red watch came on 2200 - 0200hrs

Conditions have calmed. Unfortunately the poor visibility renders helming a mind numbing numbers game. Very frustrating as this often involves sailing blind to a number on the compass'.

Blue watch came on 0200 - 0600hrs

A message has come through from Steve's brother Pete Hacking wishing us well. He attaches a really nice poem.. We read it out in the dark. This is attached at the end of the blog.

......

This was the hardest watch so far to get up for. It really feels like we are on the final leg now.

The watch changes as we are 10 miles south of Plymouth. Conditions were 'as yesterday but with the lights out'.

Its 0215 and I look across through the dark and mist to Plymouth and think happily of my adult sons Tom and Joe. We tack and sail away towards Cowes, en direction St Malo!

These 'two till six' stints are hard for all of us. Gary makes unprintable observations on the time of night. Those little people in my head, constantly remind me to go back to sleep. Brett greets with a, 'you a'right mayte?' In his deep aussie drawl. Gareth observes we may not have to do this shift again, I sense a doubt.

The legal antidote to these morning blues, Gareth's staple diet, is a cup of coffee and can of red bull. Two sugars in the coffee please. You don't get this on the NHS.

Our night vision is really well tuned and even on this starless misty night we spot trawlers so much better than in those early days.

The gas is running low, this is serious as it drives the kettle, our Achilles heel. Retirement is briefly considered..

It is so silent, just the wind and the wave as the boat cuts its way through the water. There is even the risk of nodding off on the helm.

In the darkness the water glows behind the boat and shoals of fish give themselves away by creating sharp flashes as they disturb the water.

Earlier we had a kind message wishing us good luck from a chap in Michigan in the states. This was a real boost as he has been reading our barmy blog. His sister is on the boat British Soldier. This prompted some discussion as to why no ladies were racing with us? A brief look at each other and the question seemed to answer itself.

As the very faint lightness of the dawn starts to provide a reference point in the east, I find myself wondering how many pockets a yachtsman needs. The answer explains why anything important like a head torch or knife can easily get lost for days.

The wind shifts, giving us a sailing line for Start Point. We tack again on our erratic journey and set the course to round the Point before the tide turns..

The wind is building. This race will now turn on the quality of risk decisions based on uncertain information and luck. Gareth relies on the former, repeatedly visiting our options within the context of tidal gates and wind shifts.

Red watch returned 0600 - 1200hrs.

........

Ken Allison,

........

I Must Go Down to the Sea -

By John Masefield

I must go down to the sea again,

to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

 

I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume,

and the sea-gulls crying.

 

I must go down to the sea again,

to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device

Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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Red watch 1800 - 2200

Blue watch 2200 - 0200

Red watch 0200 - 0500

Full Crew 0500 - finish 0614hrs and 4 secs

The force six kept coming at us all night from the east, with a few gusts at force 7.

This was not as chaotic as the storm all those days ago up north but the sea state, with wind against tide off the IoW, made for challenging helming and impossible snoozing.

The biggest mistake of the evening was going for soup for our evening meal. With the stove jumping off its gimbel and the spoons jumping out of the draw, this chicken delicacy was nearly wallpaper..

Thankfully the gas held out and as a final gesture to avert the brewing mutiny, a further cup of tea was produced.

Gary and Bret have clearly sorted their bedtime manners as Gary is no longer seen wandering the boat when off shift.

The repaired main has held although the stick on patches proved useless when wet. The solution was good old fashion stitches.

At 3am we were wrestling with the tide off St Catherine's point, appearing to go nowhere but gradually making ground. In the bunks sleep was impossible with the relentless crashing of the boat as it powers through the waves.

We send a position report to RORC from St Catherine's point. Not a requirement but it feels right..

At 0500 the boat is buzzing (humming too) as we scramble to make sure we know the finishing instructions.

We're on a surfing run down the Solent trying to remember which side Cowes is on.

It's 2miles to go and Steve is at the helm. We're not even going to try the spinnaker, its about the only thing we haven't trashed and now would not be a good time.

We can see the finish line now. What a silent boat.

Steve is looking out for Snowden and Trinity to our Port.

We pass snowden, and goose wing towards the ferry.

Huge tide running past Trinity.

We have finished.

That's it.

Love it!

Cheeki Rafiki - RBI 2010

Gareth Glover -Skipper. Blue watch

Steve Hacking. Red watch

Ken Allison. Blue watch leader

Nick Denyer. Red watch leader

Gary Perry. Blue watch

John Rutherford. Red watch

Martyn Gates. Red watch

Brett Williams. Blue watch Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device

Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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Red watch came on 0600 - 1200hrs

Beautiful morning with the sea now settling down. Wind still in SE 12 - 15 knots.

The tack to the south went in at 0901 to the accompaniment of grumbling from the hecklers in the bunks. Porridge was served as compensation, notably exceeding blue watch standards, if a little moist.

It seems strange to now hear French voices on the VHF after the Irish lilts from County Cork.

Blue watch returned on shift 1200- 1800hrs

The early discussion with Bret on the helm and Gary on the main centred on the timing of moving to the Medium heavy head sail from the nr3 as the wind had been dropping, this was soon put aside as the wind held up in the mid teens. Then the VHF brought a forecast of a force 6 for later pm, from the SE. The swell appears to steadily build once more..

A large group of at least a dozen dolphins now accompanied us once more..

The wind has moved 10 degrees to the south from SE. This creates a discussion on bringing the next tack in early and at 1400hrs we tack to the east. This is rewarded with a cog of around 100 - 110 deg. This is muck better than we were achieving earlier with VMGs exceeding 5 knots.

Our projected time to Bishops Rock is now looking much better. At 1515 hours we are 32miles to the Scilly's and planning the route beyond. At this rate we may make Bishops Rock with the tide in our favour.

The race boat 'Puma Logic' has finally appeared on our port beam around 1600hrs. This seems an amazing feat by them, and cannot be explained simply by their technically faster boat. They have recovered a huge 22 hours following their stop for repairs in Great Yarmouth at the very early stage of the race.

This is the first race boat we have seen since we were in the oil and gas fields off the east coast. That seems so long ago. The guy's here I have spoken to all expressed admiration for them.

We also made a quick courtesy call to Puma Logic. I made the call and strangely found myself lost for words. I offered a joke that, '...we have been hanging around for them and will do so again in Cowes!...', I do hope this was received in the comradly spirit intended.

This event has certainly stirred a competitive response. Blue watch has just cooked and eaten the fastest bolognese since we left.

Red watch came on 1800 - 2200hrs

With the wind lightening slightly we have changed to the Light nr 1 from the smaller nr 3.

Following further trimming by Gareth we gain a knot of boat speed. Puma Logic continue to pull away from us and weight goes on the rail!

We expect to reach the separation zones off the Isles of Scilly around midnight. The tidal vectors are looking good. The unknown is the wind with a force 6 forecast. This would all help and be far preferable to it going light.

From the bunk it is easy to imagine you can here the dolphins calling to one another. These very sociable creatures may be intrigued that the two boats have chosen to stay apart after such a long chase.

The race goes on with Michael Jackson blaring out 'just beat it!!' ...... brilliant!

The sun sets with Nick at the helm, John, Martin and Steven in the cockpit. Gareth is planning his recovery.

We determine to speed up.

Ken Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device

Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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Red watch came on 2200 - 0200hrs The slog, tacking to the Scilly's continued.

Blue watch came on 0200 - 0600hrs The night sky with its crescent moon and bright stars was now clear and sharp.

This is for me the most beautiful night sky we have seen so far on this RBI race

We have received info from friend via Gareth's surviving 'EU enabled' phone on our position. There is much to race for and we keep discussing options and start thinking about the tides and tactics from the Scilly's..

Helming is now relatively easy, provided you keep focussed and don't linger too long. An hour seems to be the optimum.

With the path of the moon in the water ahead maintaining direction is easy. Orion is clear and sharp off to starboard, the Plough and Polaris dominate to port. A bright star I don't recognise lies high in the south.

Numerous dolphins continue to accompany us, racing under the boat and rushing across the bow. Beautiful creatures. Often four little ones jump together side by side, I imagine I can hear them laughing as they race each other.

Shooting stars make it all even better.

Our plan remains to tack to the Isles of Scilly although there is a rumour of change ahead. In summary Subject to wind change and meal times, etc...., East tack at 0300 South at 0900 East 3pm Wind 140deg

We are now 105nm to IoS at watch change 0600hrs

Red watch returned 0600- 1200hrs

Ken Allison, Blue Watch Leader, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device

Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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Red watch came on 0200 - 0600hrs

Blue watch came on 0600 - 1200hrs

This leg from St Kilda to Black Rock is the longest of the race. We remain out of coastal VHF, telephone and internet range as has been the case for all but a few hours of the race since leaving the Kent coast. Presently we are over 50 miles from the nearest land in Eire.

We took over with a little less than 100 miles to go to Black Rock.

For the first hour we were repeatedly headed and bore progressively west of our heading. As always the choice to tack was based on incomplete information, we got this one right and an hour after tacking and going down to the MH1 sail the wind shifted enough towards the east to tack back and now make almost a direct course of 202 deg to the mark at Black Rock.

During this watch we concentrated on improving our sail changing. Eventually, out of frustration and a desire to see improvement, Gareth gave a master class taking us from the L1 to nr 3 with him doing both the bow and mast work on his own. His instruction to me on the helm was very clear, he preferred not to get his feet wet!

This was a challenge as we were beating into a sea where the white horses were already racing as the wind built towards 15knots from a rather extensive fetch.

When a dry footed Skipper returned to the cockpit following an understated display of technique, speed and coordination, the disparaging jokes and banter flew regardless, with no need at all to openly recognise the expertise of this modest, likeable, rebel of a guy, who repeatedly goes beyond in his attempt to pass on his craft.

This really is a long race and with over a 1000 miles gone it's still a daunting prospect that we have yet to reach Ireland and subsequently to cross the Irish Sea from the infamous fastnet rock.

Seven of us completed the Fastnet race last year, Four of us, Gareth, Sleepless Steve, Nick and I on Cheeki Rafiki. However that was run in relatively light winds and we don't want to underestimate that leg across the Southern Irish sea.

We continuously discuss Rhumb lines and tactical options with the emphasis on the long game, trying to always be making fast progress whilst respecting the need for a safe outcome, and primarily completing the race.

We complete our shift with Gary on the helm, beating into a building sea with gusting 15 knot headers. He's certainly sorted out his Nemesis 'the wheel'.

Red watch came on 1200 - 1800hrs

Our watch system now runs like a well oiled piece of clunky clockwork. There are no dramas, the occasional late riser faces a torrent of good humoured barracking that ensures an early arrival next time.

Sleepless Steve's ever cheerful self effacing presence in the saloon is often a hilarious combination with Gary's joke's Nick's penetrating bemused observations and mimics, and Gareth's complicated funny stories.

When it comes to Tacking, Red watch must be the noisiest on the planet.

Ken

Blue Watch - Gareth, Ken, Gary and Brett

Red Watch - Steven, Nick, John, Martin

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device

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