This morning we continued towards the southern approaches of the Isles of Scilly just as the sun was coming up. Winds were light and led to several sail changes as the the morning wore on. Thankfully the winds began building around 1300, and once they passed the 11KT threshold, Triple Lindy hit her stride. By mid afternoon we were nearing the final turn off of Lizard Point. The English countryside was absolutely gorgeous, and we had a close up view due to the need to duck in close to the Lizard to avoid a nearly three knot foul current. It was tricky going for a few hours as we dodged anchored merchant ships off Falmouth, and played the puffs and wind shifts coming off the hillsides lining the approaches to Falmouth Harbor. We are excited to start the finish line checklist in a few hours. All are well and spirits are high.
After rounding Fastnet early Wednesday, we turned back across the Celtic Sea under spinnaker. Sunshine meant we could finally dry our gear and clothing. A flattish boat meant a cooked breakfast of bacon and egg muffins (thanks Sean). And the constant company of dolphins kept us amused – actually it would be harder to be more amused than sailing with this crew! Dawn Thursday and we are rounding the south side of the scillies, then we’ll be on the final leg to Plymouth.
Triple Lindy family and friends, today was truly memorable. We pushed hard to get the most out of the last segment of the more than 350nm upwind portion of the race. After clearing the Scilly Islands, we played the winds and currents throughout the night, keeping the Lindy driving into the chop that was riding atop larger swells in the Celtic Sea. The winds came in strong from the northwest, testing each watch’s skills to maintain drive and keep the boat at the most powerful angle going upwind. It was wet and cold as the #3 jib and reefed main worked well in combination to handle the more than 20kts of wind that persisted until 0300. The boat truly felt alive as the sheets blocks groaned and popped with each adjustment from the trimmers while the bow sliced through the waves. Off watch folks curled into the sea berths wrapped in blankets to ward off the cold.
Just as the first hints of morning light arrived, we could see the coast of Ireland coming into view. Shortly thereafter, we switched from the #3 to the heavy 1 jib and full main to keep our speed up. The first part of turning the Fastnet light was avoiding the traffic separation scheme to the southeast, and then turning towards the rounding waypoint. There were more than 20 boats in view as we all converged on the corner of the traffic separation zone and began our run towards the light. All hands wanted to be part of this iconic moment, so we all came on deck with cell phones and cameras at the ready. The beauty of this spot off the Irish coast was spectacular. We could see the rolling green hills behind Baltimore Bay and the postcard like appearance of Clear Island, the closest point along the coast off to our right. Fastnet Light sits in lonely isolation on a rock outcropping. The history of this lighthouse as a landmark in this race made an impression on each one of us. Just as thousands of sailors before us have participated in this race, turning the light evoked a range of feelings–happiness at the prospect of completing the long slog upwind, gratitude for being part of some thing special, and respect for the sailors who have gone before us, in more difficult times without modern electronics and detailed weather reporting. In a sign of the times, various cell phones onboard started chirping as texts and emails began coming in. It was fun for just a few moments to pose for pictures and share this milestone in the race.
The other situations we followed through the night were some vessels in the fleet that experienced gear failure. One boat dropped out with hull delamination issues, while another was apparently dismasted and received a tow to safe harbor from the Irish Coast Guard Baltimore Rescue station. This is the same rescue station that responded so famously during the 1979 Fastnet Race putting their lives at risk to rescue sailors caught in the Force 10 storm.
After passing close to the rock, we set the A2 spinnaker and began the trek back across the Celtic Sea. The first few hours after Fastnet were spent trying to find the right downwind aspect to maintain speed and stay somewhere close to track. Clear skies, and less apparent wind across the deck allowed our crew to warm up and dry our foul weather gear. Sean and Kent created a wonderful brunch of egg, bacon and cheese muffins, while everyone relished the boat moving along with less heel angle, which makes the task of getting around so much easier. The ongoing competition between the “gunner watch” and the “dream team” continued with various claims as to who moved the boat faster during their time on deck. Tonight was steak night as CAPT Joe cooked up a wonderful meal. We kept a keen lookout for other fishing vessel and merchant traffic mixing into the fleet of Fastnet racers as we drive down track towards the Scilly Islands waypoint. The English flavor to the race and our provisioning were quite apparent as tea, coffee and Hobnobs were favorite between meal snacks.
Greetings family and friends, the crew is enjoying a challenging race that started with the spectacle of nearly 400 boats gathering off Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The start maneuvering was tricky, with loads of boats cued up for their class’s gun from the race committee, all the while trying not to be swept down the Solent by the 2.7knot tidal current passing through the area. Triple Lindy had a good start and moved out quickly down the favored side of Solent (near Isle of Wight). The 16nm to the famous “Needles” lighthouse passed quite rapidly with the fleet riding the outgoing current that added between 3-4knots to boat speed. It was very busy working the boat between the shoals on each side and maintaining clear air away from all the other boats. We were pleased to see Carla, Libby, Gill, and Rafael cheering us on from a spectator boat as we zoomed down the course. Our only wish was that Don and Kathy could have been with them as well.
Once clear of the Solent, we began the tricky portion of the race, playing the tides at each “gate.” These are points along the southern coast of England where tidal streams converge, making it nearly impossible to keep forward progress if a boat gets in the area at a time of opposing current. Names like Poole Bay, Portland Bill, Start Point, The Lizard, Lands End and the Isles of Scilly were quickly inculcated into our nautical vocabulary. The winds were moderate for most of Sunday, and then dropped a bit at night. Sunday’s evening meal was Moroccan lamb stew, and that was an immediate hit.
Monday in the early afternoon was particularly trying, with all hands doing everything possible to keep some momentum on the boat in a two hour period of nearly dead calm. After putting up Sean’s favorite sail (the windseeker), we finally started some forward progress and rode light winds to the Lizard and then through the gap around the Scilly Islands and out into the Celtic Sea. Monday’s evening meal of coque au van was quite delicious, but the show stopper was Tuesday’s dinner of beef shin casserole stew.
Throughout Monday night and Tues, we have been tacking to stay on our course line to Fastnet rock, trading off optimum angles to not be slowed down by opposing current. As this note is being drafted we are approx 67nm to Fastnet and should round it by early-mid morning on Wednesday. The Celtic Sea is beautiful, and just like the English Channel, we have had a constant presence of dolphins and seabirds. As is the usual practice on Triple Lindy, both watch teams rib each other quite a bit, and spirits are high as we work together to get the most out of the boat. Sean, Jay, Rory, Pete and Rob T(RAB) are the “gunner” watch, while Joe, Rob Long, Kent, Johnny, and Patrick are the “dream” team.