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GryphonSolo2: Leg 8 - From hairy times to becalmed

by Joe Harris, GryphonSolo2 10 Mar 08:42 PST
GryphonSolo2 © Martin Gunter / Instituto Fueguino De Tourismo

I am coming to you live from a very active North Atlantic Ocean as we make our way from Grenada to Lorient, France in the 8th and final leg of the Globe40 RTW race.

This leg has been a bit of everything from a strong upwind start in the lower Caribbean to being becalmed for three days to now being pummeled as we approach the Azores archipelago.

Last night was the hairiest night of our entire RTW voyage. The wind and sea state kept building until we were in 30' seas and winds gusting to 60 knots. We were prepared with a sail plan of 3 reefs in the mainsail and the staysail (not much sail area), which worked well up to 50k of wind. But the gusts above that laid the boat over hard, and caused Roger and I, huddled in the cabin, to wonder if we were going to get knocked down and rolled. It was scary. We were both thinking about life rafts and EPIRB's and rescues.

But finally, the 60k gusts subsided and we were able to continue, albeit still in gale conditions, but not shitting our pants the way we had been for about 30 minutes. It makes you think. Driving right up to the hairy naked edge of the cliff... looking over the cliff.... but not jumping... or being pushed!

Anyway, we could psycho-analyze that for quite some time, but meanwhile.... we have to carry on.

So we are still under our small sail plan and in 25-40k of wind as we approach the Azores and try to plot a path through that the wind will allow us to sail where we don't bump into land (that would be bad).

We are about a week away from completion of the race in Lorient and we are looking forward to that (understatement of the century).

Roger and I have been at this for nearly a year, having left Maine Yacht Center in Portland in May of last year. That is a long time for two guys to be in a 6 x 6 cabin with one bunk and a bucket and a Jet Boil for delicious freeze-dried food. The end is near... which is timely and great.... and now we just have to figure out what to do next. This will complete my second RTW solo or DH sailing trip, so maybe I need to find a new trick.

It will all work out as it is meant to. I have many ideas percolating, that all begin with re-uniting with my family at home.

We look forward to Lorient and the race closing dinner March 19, to get really drunk with our fellow competitors and unfortunately say good-bye. It will be sad, as this has been an epic adventure.

But first we gotta finish!

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