The clock is ticking

Four weeks at sea already, yet the only thing we're really aware of is that San Francisco is still far off! During the first part of our trip, most of our progress was “useful,” whereas our current ascent northward is nowhere near as efficient. Yesterday we covered 500 miles, but the net gain was "only" 395 miles. Here's the analysis from Dead Cloud, the nickname now used by the whole team for our navigator Dominic Vittet. “Since Cape Horn, if we pulled the string tight, we would be at least 350 miles farther north.” This nickname stems from a casual conversation about the Doldrums. Dead Cloud argued that there are clouds that generate wind and others are devoid of wind—so they're “dead.” As you can see, we have fun with what we have onboard.

Today, Tuesday, was a little gloomy to be honest. Not a spot of blue or a ray of sun, only grayness over a lifeless sea, apart from a group of porpoises early this morning. The wind is more stable than we're accustomed to. So in the absence of any maneuvers, except for a few jibes, we're sailing under full sail toward the equator. Some adjustments here and there, but everything is happening at the helm. The theme there is: go fast and bear off as much as possible. This is tricky balance, always difficult, and it demands our full concentration. But the clock is ticking, and that provides sufficient motivation even if we never talk about it.

This pace of around 400 miles per day should continue until 16 February when the southeasterly trade winds are expected to weaken a bit more. Even though the Doldrums still lie far ahead, we are already talking about how we're going to approach them. Our plan to push farther east than normal—closer to land—means that we're going to take a risk. We'll have more to say about this topic, and things could certainly change in the meantime. We won't be there for around 10 days, but a successful crossing depends on proper preparation well in advance.


Nicolas Raynaud

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