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On board interview with Lisa Blair as she approaches Australia

by John Curnow on 8 Jul 2017
Lisa Blair in heavy fog one morning Lisa Blair
At the time of corresponding with her, Lisa Blair was still in the 45-60s and some 2800nm from the finish. Australians will know this region from the times with Isabelle Autissier and Abby Sunderland. It was important to understand how she was doing, how Climate Action Now was going with her new mast, and what some of her plans might be.

How does it all feel?

It feels pretty amazing to be here and being able to complete the final leg of the journey back to the home soil of Australia. I have been pleasantly surprised with the weather after all the rough weather and storms that I needed to fight just to get south, it has been relatively smooth sailing since. This is largely because I am travelling with the storm systems so the wind and swell effect me to a slightly lesser extent.

I know you did not want to be in the Southern Ocean for Winter, but the evil card arrived in your hand. How cold is it?

The worst of the cold was when I sailed to the dismasting point, I was getting blizzards at sea along with sleet and hail in regular storms, I had three snowstorms in one day. The air temperature outside was two degrees Celsius but the wind chill factor was a lot worse than that. It was extremely painful when the wind would hit my hands or face and I could only stay outside, exposed for short periods of time, it that was cold.

Since I got north a little and have sailed out of the Antarctic convergence line the average conditions are between six - eight degrees Celsius so manageable with my Zhik clothing protecting me.

You have had another knockdown, how is the new rig holding up? How are you holding up?

Yes I had a rather large knock down but thankfully the new rig seems to be bullet proof and is holding up well. As for me I have once again settled into the routine of life at sea and am travelling along well.

How did you go with the electrolysis and corrosion of the shrouds – do you have one of those electronic gizmos to dissipate charge now? I've been speaking with corrosion surveyors - very interesting stuff....

With the new mast we removed all old electrical wires and fitting. We replaced all of this to remove any electrolysis issues. I have never heard of the electronic gizmos that do that? Will need to look into that one when I am back on land.

Are you holding up OK?

Yes after more than three weeks at sea we are doing well, there has been little issue with Climate Action Now and I am still as positive as ever and just taking the time to enjoy the simplicity of life at sea.

Do you still have your now world-famous effervescence?

Silly questions of course'....

Are your plans still to complete other events?

This whole experience has helped me grow more as a sailor and the good and the bad are all apart of that. I have a long list of trips I would like to do and even having the hardships of this trip it hasn’t removed any of the shine of ocean sailing for me.

What is your highest wind strength so far?

This trip from Cape Town to Albany I clocked 53 knots so not too bad but that was coupled with 10-12 meter seas. Before that the most I have seen all trip is 70 knots in the South Pacific during one of the first storms of the trip.

See you're doing 150 to 200nm 24hr runs lately - sail changes and so forth must be challenging, but then you had to cut the rig away in absolute slop, so nothing should be a challenge for you anymore. Tell me about that please?

I went to great lengths to set the boat up to be as easy to manage as possible before departure and this has paid off in full with the management of Climate Action Now is all conditions. I can run the whole boat from a 3 x 3 meter section of the cockpit reaching every line and I only need to step back if I need to grab the helm. I can reef the boat easily with two lines dedicated for each reefing point, an inboard and outboard line. Putting a reef in is the easy bit, it is the shaking the reefs out that take some time and effort. It is a big main sail so it takes a lot of winching. I installed five of the four speed Pontos winches in the cockpit to help get a better strength to effort ratio and I have to say that I think I would have struggled a lot more with-out them on the boat. I find the hardest bit is having to shake out more than one reef at a time. It just takes so long to do and a lot of effort.

Changing the headsails is fairly simple as I have both the genoa and the stay sail on Pro Fulers so I simply wind them up or out as required. Tacking and Gybing are also relatively simple I just take longer to do them than a crewed boat would. All in all I feel like I still have the same strength that I started with however I did notice in Cape Town that my legs get really tired really quickly and I will need to make an effort to build the muscle back up again.

Are you still in your previous routine? Any changes, deviations?

I seem to be much the same routine, which you can read about in a previous article, here. The only real change is that I tend to only have two meals a day, porridge and a main meal for dinner and then snacks in between. I am also still mostly sleeping at night and trying to be awake in the day to have some sort of routine. It gets hard though if I have been up half the night doing sail changes.

No doubt there are many people to thank?

I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to continue on my voyage with-out the support of all the people who donated to help get me going again so thank you. Also Arcus Wire and Rigging, Quantum Sails, Wichard Pacific, My yacht, and Harken have all played a huge part in getting me back on the water.

There is also all the local business in Cape Town that worked over time to get me sailing so thanks to Royal Cape Yacht Club, V and A Waterfront, Associated Rigging, C-Marine, Action Yachting and Power Sol.

What has been the highlight?

As miserable as it was it was amazing to see a blizzard at sea in the middle of the night, its something that not many sailors get to experience and I will never forget it.

What has been the low light?

Battling seasickness and a cold at the same time as trying to sail into storm after storm to get south to the restart point. A period of time where I was at my lowest of the whole trip and one that is thankfully behind me.

Well done Lisa, you sure are a star in our eyes. To follow what Lisa is up to, go to
McConaghy Boats 2021 - FOOTERWebasto AUS 2020 FOOTER 2Selden 2020 - FOOTER

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