Through the night we continued to make progress north. The trade winds have been moderate so far, which is far easier on the boat and skipper. Nonetheless, there have been some tremendous crashes that rattle every corner and joint of the boat.

The chart table bench is athwartship in the boat, and on a pivot, so that you can make it somewhat horizontal, even if the boat, with fully canted keel, and 3 or 4 ballast tanks filled with 3 or 4 tons of water, is still heeling at 25-30 degrees. I make the bench as horizontal as possible then put my head on the upwind end, my feet against the little wall at the leeward end of the bench, and brace myself that way to sleep. I sleep flat on my back. If I roll onto either my left side or my right, I risk rolling forward or aft in one of the big crashes going over a big wave. So either my spine goes into the edge of the chart table, or my face. So I sleep, or doze, or rest, or whatever, on my back.

Our Expert Scott Hamilton had given me a stocking cap for Vendée Globe 2008 with 3do ribs in it. It’s a soft helmet. The 3do material is flexible and pliable, but upon impact, immediately solidifies. In the south, where it was also cold, I wore that cap all the time trying to sleep. It’s way too hot for here in the tropics, but I wore it last night anyway, to try to protect my head while sleeping. The real helmet that I do have is too uncomfortable for sleeping.

We have one joint in our autopilot system, a single allen screw, that needs to be observed daily, and tightened perhaps ¼ turn, or maybe an1/8 turn each day, to snug the hydraulic ram on its mount. But going to either end of the boat in these conditions is frankly dangerous. So I’ve taken to check on that allen screw once or twice daily. Since it’s in the lazarette, at the stern of the boat, I have to go inside. Even if I’m in shorts for the heat, I put on foul weather gear pants, plus the helmet, with the full lexan visor. The motion of the boat in the lazarette is appalling, and there are a lot of sharp metallic corners on the two rudders, and their linkages, and the autopilot systems with their pumps and hydraulic rams.

I believe I recall that Samantha Davies in 2008 got knocked cold back in the lazarette, and I can completely see that happening to me. Thus the precautions. I am reminded of the scene in the movie Apollo 13 where, after the explosion, the capsule is out of control, and the depiction of the motion in the movie, is what this boat is like in real life.

On another front, although much has been made of my age, 66, as the doyen de la flotte, my friend Nandor Fa is 65 and he finished today, Congratulations Nandor! Just amazing, what a fabulous race and voyage he sailed, always pressing, but not too much, he just kept moving along and gaining. He is a fabulous sailor and mariner, and this is his 2nd Vendée Globe finish of 3 starts. Plus he sailed the Barcelona Wrold Race (doublehanded around the world nonstop, with Conrad Coleman). Nandor has sailed a lot of successful sea miles.

Didac Costa and Romain Attanasio crossed the equator yesterday, and congratulations to both. They both had problems early on, and have made successful voyages and races since.

8° 43’N x 34° 30’W
353° True
12.2 knots
True Wind Speed
21 knots
True Wind Direction
Sails (click for diagram)
Mainsail (2 reefs), Staysail
Air Temperature
81°F / 27.2°C
Sea Temperature
81°F / 27.2°C

Winch Pedestal Revolutions (daily) Amp Hours: Alternator (total) Amp Hours: Solar (total) Amp Hours: Hydro (total) Amp Hours: Wind (total)
5805 2227 23,839 3250