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GryphonSolo2: Globe40 Leg 3 - Becalming, pounding, fixing, flying

by Joe Harris, GryphonSolo2 5 Oct 11:45 PDT 26 June 2022 - 13 March 2023
GryphonSolo2: Globe40 Leg 3 © Joe Harris

I must apologize as it has been a while since my last blog post. The main reason for that is that we were sailing upwind for 700 miles and the boat was pounding so bad I could barely type!

But let me retrace the steps from where we were, approaching the Eclipse Virtual Gate, which was 60 miles south of the coast of Australia. I felt from the beginning that this gate made no sense, as we were all sailing along the southern boundary of 42' south latitude in the prevailing strong westerly winds and then had to head 600 miles north into an area known for high pressure (no wind) in an area known as the great Australian Bight.

It was a real struggle to get to the gate as we had very strong winds from behind for three days and then were becalmed for three days before we finally got around on Saturday, October 1. As soon as we rounded, we were confronted with winds from the Southeast, directly where we wanted to go, so battled winds of 24-40k dead upwind for the next 700 miles, or almost four days.

The sea state was very nasty and the boat pounded mercilessly, very reminiscent of our delivery to Lorient in May. It was very tough to move around the boat below and very wet on deck- like a fire hose of water hitting us in the face as we came out of the companionway. We hunkered down with 3 reefs in the main and the staysail at about a 60' True Wind Angle and just took the beating for nearly 4 days by mostly staying below. Not fun.

We came through the beating with our main casualty being the wind wand at the top of the mast that gives us all the wind information we need to navigate, but more importantly, allows the autopilot to drive the boat to a wind angle rather than simply a compass course. So when the wand failed we crash-tacked and the boat went into irons (stalled) as we tried to figure out the problem. We switched to the second masthead wand and got wind info back, so knew where the problem was. The vertical wand has been working well since, so knock wood we make it to Auckland without another problem.

Our second problem was that during the heavy downwind sailing, the 2:1 halyard for the A5 fractional gennaker parted after 3 days of excessive pounding and the sail fell into the icy water. We quickly furled the jib and dropped the mainsail to stop the boat and were barely able to pull the sail back onboard before it wrapped itself around the keel or rudders.

A few days later, while we were becalmed, I put Roger up the mast and he dropped a messenger line down inside the mast which I was able to fish out at deck level. We then re-spliced the eye of the halyard and Roger went up again to lash it in place and we sent the halyard back through to the deck. We then repaired the sail that had torn in 3 places and in one day had the whole thing back up and running. Nice job going up the mast twice at sea by Roger- luckily we were becalmed but the boat still rolls with the swells like crazy- and he took some great photos while he was up, so check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

So we are now cruising along under a full main and Code Zero in 10k of wind and lumpy seas left over from the storms. I can type again! We are headed for the Bass Straits, which separates mainland Australia from Tasmania, and is about 650 miles to the SE. Once through, we enter the Tasman Sea and take a left up to Cape Reinga at the northern tip of NZ and then south to Auckland.

Like the last leg, this leg looks like it will take longer than expected, but I look forward to seeing my wife Kim and my sister Wendie on the dock when we land in about 13 days(estimate) in Auckland. There will be much maintenance work to do during the stopover, but luckily Auckland is one of the sailing capitals of the world (host of the last America's Cup) and GS2 will be docked where the America's Cup boats were docked in the Viaduct Basin. Many good marine professionals to help us out. Engine, winches, electronics, sails, rope, rig- you name it, it needs fixing!

So stay tuned - check in on us on the race tracker - and enjoy the fall!

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