ARC 2019 – Day 9 – The 26-Hour Day

1,449 views  |   December 2nd, 2019 

Over a week out in the big blue now for the crew of Challenger 2 and they’ve begun to find their groove as variable winds dictate multiple sail changes – likened to the Waltz. Meanwhile, Paul explains the daylight savings phenomenon that led to a 26-hour day.


The 26 Hour Day

It’s 02.00 boat time – I’m on Chris’ watch and have just come below to fill in the hourly log so I thought I would draft a few lines on the boat blog…

Spinnaker down (again!).  Headsail Yankee1 (poled out) and staysail up.

We the crew of Challenger 2 are currently on our own unique time of UT/GMT+2 having had a 26 hour day yesterday.  We added 2 hours, one to each daytime watch in order to keep the sunrises and sunsets broadly where they should be within our day.  As such, we are currently in our own unique time zone bubble moving across the ocean.  14 souls in a world and time zone of our own.

We are all getting to know the boat well and getting familiar with more and more of the hundreds and hundreds of tasks on-board.  Sail changes are now being confidently made in the middle of the night under dark night skies.  I love sailing in the dark, the night sky’s are particularly starry and ethereal at the moment, more so once the new moon has set.  This is the best place I’ve ever been for shooting stars, there are dozens every hour, amazing!

The boat has its own language and we are now all getting far more familiar with it.  When the call of “time to pole out the Yankee 1” goes out, we now have an idea of what is to come e.g. willing volunteers to wrestle with a 4m carbon fibre pole on the foredeck, and others to sweat the huge sail to the top of an 85m mast!

Baz has given me the nickname of “Woolly” I think this is down to;

1) My orange wool beanie hat which has caused much hilarity (My ship-mates have no sense of style!!! J ) and

2) I’m becoming a dab hand at “wooling” and packing the yacht’s huge blue striped spinnaker. (As such I seem to have found a role as the crews’ spinnaker expert (in the land of the blind…!!!).

Good winds and a westerly course mean that we have now after a week at sea we have crossed both the 1000Nm travelled and less than 2000Nm to go marks.

We remain in 10th in the race, 2 places ahead of the other Challenger (1) boat.  The light winds to date don’t really suit our heavy steel hull, perhaps we can pick up a few places if the wind strength increases a bit more.  At a few points on this watch we were charging along at over 10-11kns, exciting sailing in the pitch black.

It now feels like real progress on many fronts,  so St Lucia watch out here we come! We are going to be darn thirsty and a bit smelly when we all get to you!!!

All my love to everyone at home.  X x x  Paul


Sailing downwind with 2 headsails

Sailing downwind with 2 headsails

The Spinnaker Waltz

I was halfway through cooking dinner last night when our skipper decided to drop the spinnaker for the evening. For the non-sailors out there, a spinnaker is a massive headsail used for downwind sailing and flown off a 15 foot long pole, 10 feet above the deck. They are usually multicoloured and commonly called kites, which they resemble from a distance. Spinnakers provide most of the drive for downwind sailing and are used extensively in round the buoys races where they are typically stuffed back into the sail locker between uses and repacked on the dock when the race is over.

That is not an option on Challenger as our spinnaker is the size of a typical house and would take up most of the free space in our sail locker. Instead we must carefully re-pack her (much like packing a parachute) into a specially designed bag with all edges clear, no twists or tangles, and the three anchor points clearly visible at the top of the bundle for rapid redeployment. Packing a spinnaker at the dock usually only takes 15 minutes and a 3 man crew, on a boat with limited deck space, it is a whole different ballgame. The entire sail, which is more than twice the square footage of the boat, must be dragged down a narrow companionway and snaked in three directions through the bowels of the boat.  A team of 4-6 then needs to manually walk all three edges of the sail back to all three corners to assure that the kite will fly without tangles when re-launched. They then begin the laborious task of rolling the edges along their entire lengths with wool laces to keep the sail tangle free for hoisting before carefully packing it into a duffel bag the size of a small car. If done properly the spinnaker, when deployed, will rise cleanly out of the bag and the wool laces will be broken as the wind hits the sail. There is minimal hallway space to work in within the confines of the boat, so I was trapped inside the galley (kitchen) as the principal hallway separating me from the saloon, was crammed full of a sail and 6 grown men, and women, twirling about with orange wool tidying up the sail. To me, it looked like a carefully choreographed dance step, at first thought a waltz, but given that we have a few pirates on this crew, perhaps a tarantella.

Sweet dreams and missing all back home.



Sailing downwind with the spinnaker poled out

Sailing downwind with the spinnaker poled out


Rhum to Rum

We are sailing a Rhum line – a straight line round a globe but a very bent one on a Mercator projection chart. An aeroplane does the same and you have probably noticed that when, for example, flying to the USA your route does not look sensible on a map (e.g. London to New York via Greenland) but you can be sure the airline has a short and fuel efficient route plan and so do we ! At least half the crew are very keen to get their hands on a St Lucian rum and coke so Rhum to Rum it is.!

For the last few days we have been sailing over the Cap Verde Abyssal Plain – meaning we have 4000 metres of water underneath us – somehow this feels a bit creepy!

We are getting good winds now and these are forecast to continue so anyone watching our progress should notice we are covering more ground. Apparently there is a large storm to the North which will cause an increasing swell in the days ahead – no problem for this boat but it may make the ride more interesting.

Love to all at home especially my beloved Helen for tomorrow’s Birthday   XXXX  Martin


Skipper’s Log

CF540 ARC 2019 CH2 Daily Report 2019-12-02

Date : Monday 2 December 2019
Time : 12:00 GMT (10am Boat Time)
Position : 20.34 N 30.46 W
Position : 4300nm NW of Cape Town
Destination : Rodney Bay, St Lucia
ETA : 0600 Dec 12 (GPS)
DTF : 1772 Distance Run 1141
24 Hour Run : 175 DMG in 24 Hours : 175
Required Knots for 15 Dec : 5.6, Arrival at 8 Knots : 11 Dec
Wind : AWA : 125 AWS : 9
Sailplan : Full Main, Yankee 1, Staysail
POB : 14, all in good health and happy
Fuel : 3 full, 1 in use
Water : 2 full, 1 in use, 1 filling – Watermaker working at about 15L/Hr
Gas : 2 full, 1 in use, 2 Empty
Today on Challenger 2 :
Breakfast : Bacon Rolls (Breakfast in Bed for Skipper !), Lunch : Cous Cous, Dinner : Beef Hot Pot
Music : Louder than normal Generator
Fishing Score : 27/11 1x Large Dorado (Nothing for a while – losing faith in our fishermen/women)

Notes and comments:

The trade winds have kicked in at last and we are heading in roughly the right direction at decent speed. If the forecast pans out, then we should be charging along by this evening, downwind under polled out headsail.

Ricky, Skipper


Posted by: First Class Sailing


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