Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Xplore: So Georgia to Stanley 2 Dec. 2008

Crash! Boom! Bang! Sailing into headwinds is something I know all too well after the BT Global Challenge in 2000. Everyone onboard was warned what it would be like; and has now experienced a real taste of what Southern Ocean upwind sailing is truly like. With tired faces - and a lack of sense of humor - people clammer around the boat more like ragdolls than the happy penguin-lovers they were only a few days ago. Xplore over the last 20 hours has been sailing hard on the wind in some of the toughest conditions you could put any sailing yacht through. Winds peaked in the high 50's and low 60's with the rigging screeching as we slammed our way across the southern stretch of water that separates South Georgia amd the Falkland Islands. Understanding what a boat can take and is capable of is a combination of experience, and knowledge of the boat you are on. Most aboard just quietly sit and hold on with everything they've got: you can see them sit with their butt cheeks clenched as we fall off another wave, and wait for the expected bang and crash that inevitably comes with gravity. Tonight the winds have eased to a relatively calm 25 to 35 knots; seas are down to 4 to 5 meters, so we have slowed the amount of water constantly pummeling the deck like a high-pressure washer. Today there have been tons and tons of water over the deck; for much of the day the standing order was for wash boards in, and no-one on deck without the Skipper. We are making good ground and speed though; ETA to Stanley is Friday [5 December] if the weather holds, or just in time on Saturday morning for the boys to fly at early afternoon - fingers crossed and knock-on-wood, as all sailors do. ~ Stephen

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