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Southern Spars

Osaka Cup - Optimus prime on to theSolomons

by Trevor Taylor on 5 Apr 2013
Trevor and Dan Taylor - 2013 Osaka Cup Deb Parker
Osaka Cup 2013 - Friday morning update from Trevor aboard OP.

Thanks again for those that sent something back after my last effort. Comments ranged from don't lead with your chin to just another line on an ageing face, some where happy for me with my clean jocks and others just wished us well. Sorry I haven't responded to them individually but I do appreciate the thought and effort you have gone to with your replies. I did find the knocking although it turned out to be a clicking instead as the relay that works the main winch was clicking in and out. We had wondered why that particular winch would start up on it's own from time to time and had shut down the power to it anyway. Will have to use man power for that winch from now on.


Day 10 - Tuesday (part 2)
The breeze lightened off a bit so the kite went back up for 3 or 4 hours in the afternoon but came down again when it got back to the 18 – 20 knot mark. It does seem strange getting it down that early. Some of the normal crew are only just getting interested when it gets to 20 knots and look forward to when it kicks into 30. Different circumstances now though. If we blow up a kite going to Geraldton for instance, we can throw another and another if need be and take them in for repairs ready for the next outing. No such convenience out here though, so being conservative will have to do.

Day 11 – Wednesday
Wind still a bit towards our new top end for the kite so our current weapon of choice is the Jib Top. For the non salties and sailors amongst you a jib top is a jib obviously but is cut differently to the norm and is used to fill in the gap between going up wind with a standard jib and going downwind with a spinnaker. They are good when the breeze is between 12 and 30 knots and once the wind is more than square with the direction of the yacht. I hope that makes sense. Anyway this morning we decided that is was time to dig it out, throw some battens into it and bung it up. It has been up ever since.

I am so glad that we put the generator in for this trip to not only supply 240v power if we want (air conditioners!!) but to also charge the batteries that run all of the systems – instruments, chart plotter, winches and fridges etc. The number of hours (6-8 a day) we have to run it to keep the batteries topped up is a lot more than I had anticipated and had we been using the main motor to do that we would certainly be chewing into the fuel. The genie uses about a quarter of the number of litres per hour at a bit under one an hour so we will have enough fuel but if we ever have to use the other motor for any reason we may have to take over from Otto (the auto pilot) more often that we do at present. As we are nearly at the end of the fresh food we have switched the freezer off and everything is now in the fridge. Should save us a bit of power need.

The current is starting to give me the whoops. We had been able to do a bit of ducking and diving through the back eddies further south and got onto some positive current from time to time although, not as often as we would have liked. You get to a point though, where you run out of alternatives and have nowhere to hide. That is where we are at now and are stuck with having to bang into one to two knots of current consistently. We can only hope that it is the same for every one else.

Another lovely night to be at sea with mainly clear skies and lots of stars. Pretty special.

Day 12 – Thursday
I woke up with a bit of a bowel issue this morning. Not sure if it is a side-affect to the antibiotics but it got quite hectic there for awhile. Due to the fact that our new electric dunny doesn't work properly and the spare manual one gave up the ghost after only a couple of uses, we are now using the Disney method when having to do jobbies. It is simple but effective. Hang you butt over the side, hold on tight and let her rip. It took a few outings until my troubles stopped but thankfully as the day wore on I was able to fart with a little more confidence.

Weather is much the same – 18 to 20 with the odd spurt of 20 plus knots from the SSE or thereabouts. The now ruined fractional spinnaker would have been nice but no-good grizzling. The jib top is doing OK. Had a little rain about mid- morning as a little rain shower came through. It also dropped off to 5 to 8 knots and swung a little towards the E which with the moderate seaway made for an uncomfortable hour or so. The weather eventually moved on and the SE kicked back in at, you guessed it, 18 to 20 knots. Oh for the fractional. Stop grizzling!

As the day wore on we sailed alongside a reef system out here in the middle of nowhere and needed to make a decision on where we would cross through the Solomon Islands. It would appear that every one else in the fleet is heading to the Western side near Papua New Guinea. Wasabi has been heading that way since she turned the corner at Gabo Island, hugging the coast all the way North to Fraser Island before leaving the coast. Cadabarra 8 and Funnelweb perhaps had a bob each way but now it appears that they too will be following her up that way. Spirit of Downunder has probably been heading there all along as well although she came away from the coast earlier than Wasabi.

OP on the other hand with Daniel doing al sorts of 'what ifs' and constantly upgrading the latest weather forecast into Expedition, our race management software, is considering heading still further East to pass at the other end of the group. It means doing and extra 300 miles or so but the thinking is that we will be clear of any wind shadows from the land or any other effects the land may have on the weather. It should also enable us to get into the NE trades sooner with the hope that whey will give us a better start on the run up to the equator and then across to Osaka.

At about 2100 hrs we arrived at the northern end of the Chesterfield and Bampton Reefs where it was time to finally decide on whether to head NNE for the Eastern end of the Solomons or NNW to the Western end with rest of the fleet. We talked it over and Dan did a few more checks before we both decided that we would stick with what had always been plan A, depending on the weather forecast at the time. Now all we can do is sail as best we can along the course we have chosen and see what happens.

The corner is a little under 500miles away so we should be there Sunday evening or thereabouts. Last night we had a great run doing a bit over 120 miles north between radio scheds for a little over 220 nm for the 24hrs.

Unfortunately some of the others did a little better at 230 for the day. Not to worry, our gains will be made coming away from the Solomons if all goes to plan.

That will have to do for now. I am on watch so I had better get organised and head up to keep an eye on things.

Catch you next time
TT and Dan.

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