As the sun set over the big deep blue waves that were crashing against the boat I looked back at the last three years of how this all began…. With only two nights left at sea after all these miles the GOR has passed by with so many exciting, scary, fun and difficult moments.
Today we sailed into the entrance of Biscay passing the 600, 500 and 400 mile marks. We had winds up to 30 knots in the squalls and the waves were from all directions and sloppy. As the day went on the wind eased off and the sea sorted itself out. We had several ships pass us: Flintersun, Sluisgracht, Maersk Needham, Benguela Stream and one with no name with the MMSI number: 226 324 000. The Maersk Needham passed within a mile of us crashing into the waves as she headed South West. She is 210 m by 30 m doing 18 or 19 knots straight into the waves and pitching over them.
We changed our weather forecast area as we crossed the 12 degree line of longitude. The new area is called Pazenn. We have no idea what Pazenn means but we think it is a Breton name. The forecast read correctly:
West or Northwest 5 or 6, occasionally 7 in north backing Westerly
3 to 5 soon, then Southwest at end. Gusts. Rough or very rough becoming moderate or rough. Showers, rain in west later.
And in the next 24 hours they predict a gale… well how unusual. Either this is just Biscay and that’s what they always predict here or its true… In August last year we crossed Biscay on the way to Mallorca for the start of the GOR. My folks were on board with us. One of my most spectacular memories of Phesheya was one night here in Biscay with my Dad on watch. I was helming with the A4 up and the numbers were just climbing… The moon had just come out and there was spray everywhere. We were soaked but having a blast. My Dad shouted “Whooh! 16, 17, 16, 17, 18, go go go….. 19 knots!” Nick poked his head out the hatch and said “No, you missed it we did 21 knots!!” My Dad could not believe it so he scrabbled down below to have a look. We have had some great sailing in Biscay and lets hope the next 48 hours will be just like that.
Three years ago Nick and I found ourselves having just completed my first double handed race on a big boat. The 1000 mile Normandy Channel Race, up and down the English Channel. It was up to us to use our initiative of how to sail Phesheya so we learnt to sail our Class 40 through trail and error. We had had a few scary moments in the dark and in some windy conditions but it was three years ago that this all started. I never thought I would actually sail around the world even though that was the plan. I know that my folks never believed us either. With no real outside help or training Nick and I pitched up at the start line of the Global Ocean Race with what we could afford or as much as the budget would allow.
I had three transatlantics and one run through the Southern Ocean from Cape Town to New Zealand under my belt and that was it. So diving a bit in the deep end we started the GOR! We have had lots of ups and downs, scary and fun moments but there are a few that we all remember:
Going through Gibraltar and almost hitting the breakwater off Tarifa, dropping the kite in 34 knots and gybing inside the South cardinal in very little water and then almost getting hit by a ship!
Being becalmed for 4 days off Morocco and then breaking the prodder mounting while pushing the boat too hard to make up lost miles.
Arriving in Cape Town on a beautiful Sunday with such a warm welcome!
Getting hammered by Cook Straight on our final approaches to Wellington in
45 plus knots sailing in the overfall’s in the middle of the night!
Beating for a 10 solid days in the South Pacific, it was wet cold and miserable!
Fixing our pilots in the South Pacific while hove-to when they both failed!
The wonderful moment of seeing Cape Horn!
Clearing weed off the keel and rudders off the Falklands!
Lying on our side in a lightening storm off Argentina and thinking that it was game over!
The whale that followed us for over an hour through the oil fields off Brazil.
The debris in the ocean that we saw in the Atlantic startled me.
Cruising through the Caribbean.
Getting caught in a water spout and shredding the A2 spinnaker.
Oh and lets not forget about being seasick in the first 72 hours of legs 2 and 3!
… to name just a few of the moments that spring to mind right now. I can not begin to explain what I have learnt. I must not forget that I had never been to Uruguay or to the States before either so that was an adventure too. I think my Spanish has definitely improved even if it is just ordering tea and coffee.
So what is next, Nick and I have been asking ourselves? Some more racing offshore, a over land adventure, cruising in the Pacific or up a river somewhere… we are not sure but we will have answer for you in the next 2 months or so. This will not be the last of our stories to tell.
At sunset a few common Dolphins came to play around the boat. They leapt right out of the water as I stood by the mast watching them and it is for moments like this that sailing across the oceans makes it all worthwhile!