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I left my Heart in San Francisco

July 6th, 2006

Update for July 6, 2006

The Div 1 boats have reached the same latitude as San Francisco, California!

Voodoo Child has been sailing a course closer to the coast than her rivals and appears to have made some gains. Late on Wednesday night Brad Baker wrote: .

It isn't really Thursday yet, but it will be in about 49 minutes and we needed to start a new log so, here we are. Where? We are 30 miles WNW of Cape Mendocino and about 15 minutes from a gybe. We're in the middle of the 10-2 watch with my crew driving the boat and the SLEP team fast asleep. It's been a long day and we still have a long way to go before we get to sleep. Gybing this boat in the dark with only 4 people is a handful. To the uninitiated, here is your perspective: when we race on Puget Sound, we'd have between 12 and 15 people aboard to do what the 4 of us are about to do. We wont do it quite as briskly as a full crew, but we'll get it done. Then we'll be pointing away from California and more toward Hawaii and that will make us all feel good. We are totally committed to this route but the routing advice that said: "go south until you hear people speaking Spanish and then turn right," was rather daunting.

Later in the morning Voodoo Child crew member Lydia Volberding reported:

Oh man, what a morning!!! Our watch drove between 2 and 6 a.m., top wind speed of 32, which is fine but driving in the dark with the waves on the edge of control, topping out at 17.5 is exhilarating but also terrifying (the thought of wiping out with those guys sleeping down below),  we'd never hear the end of it. My arms, shoulders mostly, were aching after that bout of driving and grinding. Thank goodness Pete and Eric got the pedestal functional again. I've been given a new sleeping berth, to get more weight aft in this wild stuff. The "garage" pipe berth is a hoot! Once I got all padding in there and cinched up, I settled in to all the wild gyrations of the back end of the boat, as well as the cacophony of water against the hull and the moaning/groaning of the sheet being eased right above my head on the deck. Needless to say, sleep is elusive, but lying there has been entertaining. These conditions are awesome but extremely tiring, I know this 6 to noon shift is going to be completely wiped out when they come down in three hours… what to fix them for lunch before naptime? They are out there in shorts and foulies because it is fairly warm but lots of spray and waves hitting them. Well, water's boiling, gotta go. We're having fun!!

Voodoo Child, like all the boats in the fleet, has to deal with chafe and wear that the constant loads exert on the boat. Peter McGonagle filed this report today about life on the boat and the ongoing battle to avoid chafe related breakdowns:

Good clean fun. The adrenaline was flowing this morning at 0430 as the wind piped up to thirty. The grey 4A chute was a lot of nylon to have up and no a very stable sail in those conditions. "On the edge of control" is a good description. The boat is holding up well to these conditions so far. I tightened the steering cables yesterday evening as we were seeing a little chafe on the sheeves. During our last chute change to the 3A reacher, we replaced the spinnaker spreacher block with a larger Harken turning block. With spinnaker sheet loads, these blocks are definitely stressed. And, the old spreacher had been gouging into the aluminum track/toe rail. The larger block will handle the loads and help with toe rail chafe. What's it like down below when the boat is doing twenty knots? Actually quite nice. We're dry, secure, and out of the sun. The noise of water rushing along the hull helps indicate speed. The loudest noise is that of spinnaker sheet easing on primary winch. The sound echoes through the whole boat. At least we're going fast, downwind, and not pounding. Cooking, dressing, using the head and other important functions are very manageable given the waves we're blasting over and through. At sea but thinking about those at home.  That's it for now.

Finally this last report from Brian:

21.3 KNOTS!!! A new speed record for the trip and for the boat. On top of that, it's a beautiful day. Ssunshine, 20-25 knots of breeze, big, rolling, wonderful waves to surf. Life is good.

Elsewhere in the fleet , we have a report filed yesterday from Vancouver based Blue Moves II racing in Division 3. Blue Moves is taking a much more direct route to Hawaii than the rest of the fleet and they are currently farther west than every other boat in the fleet. Here are Navigator Tim O'Connell's comments:


The winds have ranged between 10 knots and 15knots and we covered 155 miles approx in the last 24hrs. We flew the new assymetrical spinnaker most of yesterday evening, beam reaching in 15 knots, which during the night, turned into a tight reach. We have been on the #1 genoa and main since dawn and are now close hauled in 16knots of wind and going towards the rhumb line. Seas are what you would find in Georgia Strait. The sun is out with a few rain squalls coming through from the west.

Since we are towards the back of fleet the weather systems are offering us different opportunities. Rather than follow everyone's wake, we are breaking away from the rest of the fleet and heading for the west side of the rhumb line where the winds are projected to be 25 to 30 knots of power reaching. We have a small 12 hour opportunity to get through a light patch of wind and into those winds. It\'s unconventional for this race but we are going for it.

Everyone is motivated to keep trimming and keep the boat moving. We not only have a race against the other boats, but a race against time to get to where we need to be to pick up the right entry points into incoming weather patterns.

Food is good. Yesterday we had brunch: scrambled eggs, ham and cheese between big slabs of bread. A hearty meal. Last night was Lasagne and today will be a Mexican cuisine which will help us throught the light wind areas !!!

No signs of any wildlife yet, although the colour of the water has changed to a clean "Royal Blue" and as we move further south, we hope to land the odd Tuna and Mahi-Mahi.

Keep a look out Tim, as other crews have reported seeing some wildlife, including grey whales, porpoises, an albatross and large numbers of other sea birds.

Check the Race Tracker for updated boat positions and keep those updates from on board coming.


Next report July 7th at 2100hrs PST

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