Leg 6 – Qingdao to Seattle Part 1 “Half Way”

It’s day 4 on the long Pacific crossing. I didn’t get to write anything yet, but not because of the sea – I had to get my phone charged first.
The first 24h of the journey we were motoring, as the start (a Monte Carlo start) was postponed due to too light winds. I was in bed off watch for the start, but apparently we had a reasonably good start until we had to avoid a fishing vessel.
The first days were not as cold as we expected – in Qingdao, everyone bought more clothing for cold weather and hand and food warmers and also all crew got hot water bottles.
What we had on the other hand was a lot of very dense fog, where you cold hardly see the front of the boat from the helm station.
Another visitor came to our boat on the 2nd day. An owl came and after an attempt of sitting on the leeward side of our mainsail and holding on to one of the sponsor stickers, it decided for the top of the mast. There it disturbed our wind instruments, but nothing broke. I confirmed that when I was up the mast later that day to tape some split pins.

Yesterday, I had Bistro duty with Phil. For lunch we made a nice beef stew with chewy beef from China and the evening we had fried rice with veggies. Not leftovers represented the verdict of the crew that these were good meals. And Phil volunteered to write the crew blog :). We were done by 20:30, so a real good bistro watch.
Right now (10:35 LT on 26th March) we are just a few miles behind Garmin. And the fleet overall is still relatively close together.

Day 6 – 5:30am

Picking up from the last entry the entire fleet is now no more than 18nm apart. We have 7 boats within a radius of 2nm.
It is a nervous competition for (some) speed as there is nearly no wind. Trying every trick in the book to trim the boat for low winds, but more often and very frustratingly the boat(s) is (are) just drifting along.
However, we had some nice sailing days and at least the weather is nice. We had showers on deck today. We have types of weather I have never experienced before – thick fog around us where can hardly see 20m ahead but above a clear starlit sky ; water completely flat reflecting the setting (or rising) sun in a way that made the water look pearl like, shimmering like with a light film of oil on it ; the flat sea with a little wind also gives you a feeling of really cutting through the water (even if we were making barley 2kn) ; seeing lots of little sea life in the water coming up to the surface, like jelly fish and little sea eels or snakes, which we don’t spot in rougher conditions.
Also in the calm seas life on board is easy and relaxing and we are getting lots of maintenance and repair jobs done. For example we started rigging a down haul system for our Yankees, made sail ties and try to keep the boat tidy. I also get some time for filming and finally for the first time got my gimble for the GoPro out.
On the not so nice side, GG and Anna, with the help of Ray, unblocked the forward head today and cleaned the pipes – the diameter had been significantly reduced by urine remains.

We had exhausted visitors again. Unfortunately, two of the 3 little sparrows died later.

Also news reached us about a MOB on one of the Volvo Ocean Race boats and the fact that the body was not found and declared lost at sea – very sad news and again a reminder of the dangers of ocean racing.

Day 13 (4/4/2018)

Not written in a while. Phone was dead and it were busy days.
Saw some Orcas yesterday briefly.
Anna replaced Spinnaker Block at the top of the mast today after the halyard was wrongly (completely wrong) attached and damaged the ‘old’ one.
Today, I’m Nav. Wooled the Code1 50% on my own, then Phil helped and we got it neatly away I’m about 2h in total.
Return of the weird dreams – today featuring a small hotel/resort with a pool,my good old friend Sebastien L., some Mafia gangsters and hiding in the folds of a sail….?!

We are awaiting a Low to come through and expect the front(s) to arrive in the next hours bringing rain and strong winds – luckily in the right direction.
The leading boats are still not far away, but we have lost some positions. Still a long way to go – just under 4000 nm.

We saw some nice Volcanic islands around Japan. The coastline in general looked really interesting.

For the last few days now, no more fishing vessels and hardly any other traffic. We see some more sea life, birds and from time to time big schools of dolphins.

Day 17 – half way

It’s about 4am in the morning. We just shook reef 1 out and are on a best course downwind to the international date line. We just passed 50% of the way to Seattle earlier. It is still very cold and wet, but sailing couldn’t be much better. Surfing 6 or 7m waves in over 40 knots wind I got I over 26knots boat speed earlier this night.
We are currently averaging over 12knots. Despite the cold and wet I really enjoy this.
My boots are unfortunately soaking wet, which makes them quite cold besides the feet being in the dry suit. Therefore before I get into the boots, I developed the habit to fill them with hot water, so they are comfortable at least for a bit. I wonder how long it will take to dry them out again.

When the wind arrived unfortunately it brought some colder weather with it. I’m putting now every watch 5 layers underneath my dry suit on. From merino wool underwear to my famous orange hotelplanner fleece. But all this dressing up and down takes quite a bit of extra time – at times I also use some feet warmers.

Down below everything is dripping wet from the condensation.
To keep us warm in the sleeping bags we bought small hot water bottles for everyone in China.

We had strong and fun winds for a few days now and we went north. Currently we are the most northerly boat and briefly we were listed in #1 position on the Clipper race viewer. Our on calculations showed us more around position 6 or 7, but we don’t want to argue.

Still eating lots of pot noddles – the Chinese ones are particularly good and tasty. Rosanne bought 500 of those, but still I wonder how long they will last. Today we run out of pepper (again!).
I can’t see any white bread anymore, and I hope we have enough granola for breakfast. There is the porridge option every day, but I really don’t like it.

There is more wind coming in a couple of days, with potentially cross seas (I.e. waves from the side). This could be more uncomfortable than the following seas we had so far. Let’s see. Anyhow, it is getting tiring and it seems to take me longer every time to get out of my bunk….

Day 19 – 10th and 9th of April

I have Bistro Service today together with Nick. Nic sq. 🙂
And today we crossed the international date line (180 degrees of latitude) so we are exactly opposite of London. Another half way mark. And it messes up the date – so as we crossed it around noon until then we had the 10th of April. After we crossed we we were not anymore 12h ahead of UTC but 12h behind and the date is now the 9th of April – again. And tomorrow will be another 10th.

We are also a bit more than half way across the Pacific and I just realised that this is my first Pacific crossing by any means – I have never taken a plane this way either. It’s some kind of cool to do it by sailboat the first time.

Interesting thoughts at night while I prepare a little night dish for the rest of the crew. We are looking ahead to some more challenging conditions and maybe people should get some additional food in while they can. Our little board pharmacy was well visited earlier this evening to get the anti seasickness drug levels up again….

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