FRI 10/03/2016 03:06:00
Gonzalo Infante, navigator
Everyone is happy on board after having experienced the blasting downwind conditions of last night. Tonight the picture is much different, as the storm has completely gone and we are drifting with the remains of it - a gentle but very cold Northerly breeze. Ahead of us we have one of the biggest challenges of sailboat navigators: the Thames Estuary and river. This will be my first time sailing this piece of water and believe me when I tell you that I have spent close to 50 hours preparing for this section. Full of sand banks and very intense traffic, we need to make our way through with some extremely precise navigation - relying on perfect timing with the tide and speed of the boat in order to not run aground. Many vessels turned into wrecks in this area and that's definitely something that we don't want, so extreme caution is the motto on board.
THU 09/03/2016 03:00:00
Matt Knighton, Onboard Reporter
Now we’re feeling the full force of the wake of this low depression that just swept across the English Channel. It started with beautiful downwind sailing at night doing 25+ knots of boat speed with waves just starting to break over the cockpit. The boat is doing its normal jerking and weaving and Alex just asked me who is driving like a mad man? Easy answer: Phil Harmer!
You could hear the screams of panic with each wave.
Meanwhile, down below, Ore’s bunk has re-broken meaning he is now sleeping to the leeward side - a fact that is funnier because now that he’s on deck, Hal has come down off watch he’s practically crying trying to get into his new leeward bunk.
It took Sam Greenfield pushing him up and over the hinge of the bunk to dump him in. Now we’ve turned upwind and are truly “chopping wood”, beating into quite large waves.
The first big jump off the boat off a 3m wave just happened and everyone shouted. Heads are pumping out of their bunks freaked out while the sailors are bent over laughing.
In the hilarity, Ian looked at me laughing, “I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t go around the tip of Scotland!” Then of course he looked at the nav computer and saw our course changed and was all giddy. “Oh look at that mark rounding. Couldn’t have been prettier!" Typical.
Wendy’s (Harmer's) bunk smells like a dead rat for some reason and Angellica thinks the boat smells “TERRIBLE”! To think she hasn’t experienced what this boat smells like with nine guys after a 25-day leg ... we’ve only been out here for a couple of hours.
This is truly going to test their mettle now. I asked Dee if she would take the over or under on two celebs getting seasick? She took the over.
TUE 08/03/2016 22:00:00
Ian Walker, skipper
"We always knew that an explosive low pressure was due to develop today, and that's what is just happening. As I write this, I can see on the satellite imagery a big mass of cloud growing vertically in the Celtic sea. On channel 16, Falmouth coastguard has issued a navigational warning saying that Gale force 10 winds are expected across the English Channel tonight.
We initially thought about arriving as far as Southampton but it now looks like we will need to sail into the Solent with 30+ knots of wind, very steep waves and low tide, which are ingredients enough for running aground with catastrophic consequences.
We have decided to stop a little closer, in Plymouth, and restart tomorrow once the worst of the system has gone. It will still be tough, but more manageable. As Dee said today, it's not often that the coastguard broadcasts a warning like this.."
TUE 08/03/2016 06:30:00
Ian Walker, skipper
"Nearly 24 hours into the challenge and things are going well. We have survived our first night at sea. With light rain and no moon it was a very dark night but thankfully seas were pretty calm. Now the waves are building as we poke outside the shelter of Ireland and we have our first two sea sickness casualties. I'm mentioning no names but the girls are much stronger than the boys! Alex has yet to sleep! So far we have had no more than 20 knots of wind but I have just spooked the herd by listening to the weather forecast. Gale force 9 and even storm force 10 is forecast for these waters in 12 hours time. For us it is now a race against time to get around Land's End and head east away from the worst of the weather. For sure tonight will be much tougher than last night and I am watching the weather forecast very closely. We have a small cyclonic depression spinning up right where we are headed and we will see gale force winds at some stage. All in all we are making good progress, everybody has stood their watches and the learning curve is steep. We have had plenty of smiles and the good news is that we all stayed warm enough last night despite temperatures falling below 5 degrees - nice work MUSTO! It is only going to get harder from here.....
Ian - 90 miles North of Lands End
UPDATE: I am pretty confident we will get round Land's End in the daylight - maybe the Lizard Point too. New weather in an hour so will not make any predictions until after that.
Give us a wave later! Thanks, Ian"
MON 07/03/2016 23:00:00
Gonzalo Infante, navigator
"So far so good! We have started this challenge with very nice conditions - but it won't take long until this changes. Today's sail has been about sailing amongst rain clouds and trying to make our way south as quickly as we can. We are using as much sail area as we can to maximise our progress towards the iconic point of Land's End, on the southwestern tip of England. It is critical that we make it there before Tuesday afternoon since we are expecting gale force winds and big sea state to sweep in from the west, and we don't want to get trapped in a bottleneck after this happens. At this point, it looks like Tuesday night has all the ingredients to be epic, as we will be running downwind smashing the hull through the waves at 20-25 knots of boat speed. It will be fun!"