Buckley Systems (Ross and Campbell Field) pulled out of the Global Ocean Race, about a week ago after a sequence of crash tacks and gybes while sailing in heavy seas. They are due to arrive back in Auckland at 0900hrs tomorrow, Friday 10 February.
A second yacht which pulled out about the same time ,Campagne de France?nid=93746
, is also on her way back to New Zealand, and should be in Auckland in the next day or two.
Ross Fields is off the boat already, in Tauranga, to see a medical specialist.
Below are the last three blogs from the crew of Buckley Systems, including the story behind the crash which wiped out the wind gear at the top of the mast - rendering the autopilots useless: Landfall and medical assistance (9/2/12): Campbell Field
Arrived in Tauranga at 0330 local time this morning. Was another beautiful afternoon and evenings sail in a dying sea breeze. A full moon lit the way, the only disappointing part was seeing the lights of the operation clearing up the shipwreck on the Astrolabe reef. This maritime disaster has had a deep and lasting impact on the local environment - the Bay of Plenty is a stunning part of the world - the ships captain who tried to cut a corner to save a bit of time and money should be taken out the back and shot, or at the very least locked up and the keys thrown away. Probably along with the ships owners or charterers who probably applied pressure on him to save costs, miles, fuel etc.
A quick nap and the friendly local Customs Officer arrived at 0700 to clear us back in to NZ. At the same time Jan, Bruce and Cam walked down the dock armed with a long black and a flat white. Just what we needed. Ross has been whisked away by Jan for a quick shower then a drive to Auckland to see a specialist this afternoon. He will probably require the services of an ear specialist as well as his right ear will be playing up by now.
We left Tauranga Bridge Marina at 1030 on the turn of the tide and have approx 120nm to Half Moon Bay Marina - my old stomping ground in Bucklands Beach. The Tauranga harbourmaster came tearing over in his RIB as we were exiting the harbour and I was wondering what we had done wrong, as it turns out Charlie (the harbourmaster) used to sail with Dad and I on Honeywell, a Young 11 that dad built in the early 80s. It was a pretty radical concept at its time, ultra light, open transom, very controversial to all the old fuddy duddy IOR lead-smuggling vessel owners who deemed it too fast, dangerous and unseaworthy. Maybe they were just pissed off that we looked like we were having much more fun than them. Anyway, Charlie came over to say hi, and to pass on his best and say how sorry he was that we had to pull out of Leg 3.
There is little to no wind, hopefully a sea breeze will develop later as it is getting hot, very hot. Just caught lunch with a line over the back, so things are looking up.
Feb 9, 2012 3:10 am Nearly there (7/2/12): Campbell Field
All is well on board Buckley Systems. Although we are still bitterly disappointed to be sailing in this direction, it is some stunning weather - pretty much what it would be like were we permitted to go far enough south to avoid the gale force headwinds and severe bashing that we got. Yes, quite a lot colder than it is now, but still full main and A4 surfing along in the high 50’s latitude S. The funny part about it is that there is hardly any darkness that far south, so we can see where we are going and of course any hard water around.
One thing is for sure we are not going to run out of coffee or food on this trip. We do have to clear customs when we arrive as we cleared out from Wellington, I wonder what they will think when they figure we have taken almost 2 weeks to travel about 400nm…
Been keeping a close eye on the rest of the fleet - were very concerned watching one 3 hour report with Nick and Phillippa doing 1.9 kts at about 100 deg to course - a big ‘oh no’ moment for us, thinking they had lost thier rig and were drifting. Thankfully they hadn’t, just in even worse conditions that we left days ago.
Ross is well, however drugged to the eyeballs - nothing too heavy, just enough to knock you around. So it makes for some interesting conversations, mainly when he is asleep. The course of drugs recommended by Dr Spike from MSOS has kept the pain under control, and it takes a bit of discipline on Rosses part to maintain the course to keep the pain at bay, rather than the natural instinct of dosing up, pain goes away so stop taking anything. Learnt that the hard way. We are diverting to Tauranga and anticipate being there in 24 to 28 hours. This is to get Ross off the boat and to specialists as soon as possible, we had him booked in Auckland for Friday, but the forecast is getting lighter and lighter so we may not make it there in time. Should surgery be needed, then he will get it done as soon as physically possible to be back up and running in the very near future.
Bruce and Cam are very kindly giving up their time to come and help me get the boat to Auckland - will feel quite crowded! Jan is driving them down and Ross back, the initial thought of Ross taking a rental car was pretty quickly dismissed as not the greatest idea we have had.
So we will arrive in Auckland on Friday some time, might link up with the local Friday afternoon Rum Race on the Waitemata if we time it right! Plan is so far to get the boat tidied up, pull the rig and effect repairs up there, then make a plan for the future.
Lots of messages of support coming in still. Thank you everyone, they are all appreciated - please rest assured we are both well and getting plenty of rest.
See you all soon,
Feb 7, 2012 1:04 am A dark day on board (3/2/12): Campbell Field
You would have seen by now the news that we are headed back to Auckland. A tough way to have a year of blood, sweat and tears collapse in front of you. Although cursing every minute of the last day or so of bashing and crashing upwind towards the ice gate, we had played it out pretty well we feel, had set ourselves up nicely and were as settled in as you could be in those conditions - a nice southerly position (not as far south as we would have liked but that is another discussion for another day), and very comfortable with where our nearest competitors were. I guess it was a small mercy to have the horrendous conditions entering Cook Straits at the end of Leg 2 so fresh in our memories as it took the edge off of and had us better prepared for the huge seas and 40+ knots were were facing.
We had a few failures as can be expected in these conditions - notably the 4mm thick stainless steel strap that connects our mainsheet block to the traveller car blowing up - quickly fixed with a lashing - but gives an idea of the shock loads we were putting through this tough old boat.
One huge wave, and the instant it started to happen I knew what had happened. We rolled into a crash tack then around into a crash gybe and another tack. Anyone watching from above would think we were taking a penalty turn. I was clinging on for dear life in the cockpit trying to simultaneously grab the tiller, disengage the highly confused pilot, hold on for dear life and figure out which way was up. All the while screaming in sheer rage at the situation. While I was venting my anger Ross was in agony in the cabin. On leg 2 he took a couple of tumbles that would have stretchered off any mere mortal, with a bruise on one hip that looked like someone had taken to him with a baseball bat. Coupled with a severe blow to the abdomen a few days later - was only acknowledged with a mere ‘that hurts a bit’ and ‘hope we have some more of those anti-inflammatories’. Tough old bugger my old man. Any other day I would have just said stubborn old bugger. So to see him in that much pain me ant we had an issue: facing the next 6000nm with one of us in agony and the loss of all wind instruments (if it was possible we would have repaired at sea) therefore effective pilot, seriously compromised our performance and safety.
So here we are, 1100nm from Auckland, riding the huge waves we previously spent 24 hours working so hard against in the other direction. They are just as big going this way so still having a few hairy rides at 19 kts with a triple reefed main and jib up.
All our friends, fans, family and supporters, thank you for your support and messages we have recieved.
Will keep you posted on progress and the future as it unfolds.