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GryphonSolo2: Leg 8 - Seaweed & mild conditions; cold weather ahead

by Joe Harris, GryphonSolo2 1 Mar 17:19 PST
GryphonSolo2 © Martin Gunter / Instituto Fueguino De Tourismo

We are on Day 6 of the final Leg 8 of the Globe 40 going from the Caribbean Island of Grenada to Lorient, France. After a brisk start, we have had very light winds over the last 3 days and are only now in 6-8k of wind after struggling through long periods of 0-5k of wind, where it is difficult to keep the boat moving in the right direction.

The seaweed has been very bad and clogs the keel and rudders and hydro-generator constantly- we have to round up into the wind to get it off. I think it is called "Sargasso". The days have been long in the very bright sunshine and we have been hiding out from the sun wherever we can find shade on the boat. Once the sun sets, the breeze has come up a little and the boat will steer to the autopilot, which is a nice relief from hand steering at very low speeds in the hot sun.

This is the last leg of the Globe40 round-the-world race and Roger and I have been reflecting on that a lot. We have been at this for ten months, and I think we are both a bit burned out and tired. But we are also savoring these last days offshore, as inevitably we will miss it once we stop. The boat, rig, and sails are in good shape and our only issue is that the chart-plotter is not working, so we are navigating via the computer. We are looking at another - 15 days offshore and some heavy weather and cold once we get a bit further North, so we are trying to enjoy these mild conditions while they last.

As we have been a bit bored, I picked up an old copy of Sailing World magazine and read two great articles. The first was about ace navigator Stan Honey winning this year's Newport-Bermuda Race aboard his Cal 40 "Illusion". This reminded me of my father, Woody Harris, who sailed aboard a Cal 40 named "Thunderbird" and won the Bermuda Race sometime in the 1960's. There is a photo from the local Bermuda paper of our family- Woody, my mom Katrina, older sister Wendie, and younger brother Jan aboard Thunderbird at the dock at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club with the famous St. David's Lighthouse Trophy. Woody was an excellent sailor and was my mentor in offshore sailing and I miss him a lot.

The second article was by Hall of Fame sailor Jonathan McKee, who did a 750-mile race called "The Race to Alaska", which sounded really out-of-the-box challenging and fun. It made me think about what kind of sailing I want to do once this race is over. I think the first thing I will do is to take some time off and reconnect with family and friends. I'm talking with a friend about hiking some of the 40-something 4,000 foot peaks of the White Mountains and look forward to stretching my legs. Parts of the Appalachian Trail beckon. Skiing in the West next winter. Maybe going to work for a tree company cutting down trees with a chainsaw. Building some furniture. But if the past is any guide, the itch to go sailing offshore will return before long and I'm already wondering what that might look like. Probably a bit more cruising/ exploring than racing for a bit, but I will likely miss the adrenaline rush. The discussions around the "next boat" over a beer are always entertaining. A monohull or multihull? What blend of comfort, speed and seaworthiness is right? Let's tawk.....

But the wind is up a bit and the boat needs tending, so time to go. Lots of food for thought and I can't wait to get home and chill with mi amigos. I will also be putting together a slide show speaking presentation about the race, so email me if you have a group that might be interested.

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