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Sailing solo round-the-world record attempt - 47 days to go

by Joe Harris - GryphonSolo2 on 25 Sep 2015
Solo around the world - GryphonSolo2 record attempt GryphonSolo2
I am writing with another update as the days count down (47 to go) towards my departure for the round-the-world solo sailing record attempt aboard GryphonSolo2. The target departure date is somewhere around November 10th - subject to a favorable weather window in Newport to get off to a flying start. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Saturday November seventh - for a GS2 bon voyage party in the afternoon at Newport Shipyard - more details to follow shortly.

Here are some highlights of recent activity:

1. I sailed the boat solo from Portland, Maine down to Block Island, going well outside Nantucket in early August and had a good four-day sail to test all systems and look at all the sails. Unfortunately the trip was in fairly light wind so I did not get the heavy weather shake-down I was looking for, but that is par for the course in August.

2. September has been focused on running rigging, i.e. replacing all the ropes on the boat with the goal of identifying and dealing with chafe issues before they arise. I worked with Phip Hallowell and Brian Fisher from RigPro in Portsmouth, RI on this project and they did an excellent job. We are still tweaking a few things, but for the most part the running rigging on the boat is in great shape and ready for the trip.

3. I sailed from Jamestown, RI back to Portland, ME with Rob Windsor a few weeks ago and again put the boat through her paces and tried to identify any potential problems. We ran the watermaker/desalinator and found some air getting into the salt water intake system so have addressed that. The two Suunto compasses in the cockpit each had developed a bubble of air in the card chamber so I contacted Ray Andrews of Andrews Compass Service and he was able to make the necessary repairs and provide me with new LED red lights to illuminate the compass’ at night. Thank you Ray!

4. The boat is now out of the water at Maine Yacht Center having a few dings on the keel repaired and a final check of rudders, propeller and a bit of bottom paint. GS2 will go back in the water on Friday, so this was a short pitstop.

5. Mark Washeim of Doyle Sailmakers, who built the new sail inventory for the circumnavigation, has taken all the sails off the boat and down to his loft in Long Island to spread them out on the loft floor and make all necessary repairs and reinforcement prior to departure. Mark has been attentive to every detail and I am confident that the sail inventory will stand up to the rigors of the voyage.

6. I have been working with Brian Harris at MYC to get all digital charts loaded on to both my lap top computer and my chartplotter - a task which has proven more challenging and time-consuming than we anticipated. The C-Map by Jeppesen charts for my Adrena navigation and routing program come on compact discs that have to be loaded and then “unlocked” which requires an insane number of “unlock codes”. The Navionics SD cards for the B&G Zeus chartplotter also have to be downloaded via an arcane and circuitous process that challenges my IT capabilities. The goal is to get worldwide digital chart coverage in both systems for redundancy, as well as having large scale paper charts for back-up.

7. Safety gear in the form of an additional EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Beacon) and a new life vest with harness and tether to keep me attached to the boat in heavy weather were recently purchased and the EPIRB registered with NOAA. I am developing an Emergency Communication Plan with a group of trusted friends/experienced sailors in the event that a Sea/Air rescue had to be undertaken, although I’m certainly hoping that does not become necessary!

So, that’s it for now - more sea trials to follow next week and beyond through October.
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