Joe Harris: Batten Down the Hatches

Published on February 27th, 2016

Aboard his Class40 GryphonSolo2, American Joe Harris departed Newport (RI) on November 15 in a bid to break the 40 Foot Monohull Solo Non-Stop Round the World Record. That plan, however, got derailed when a stop in Cape Town was needed for repairs to his energy systems. Here’s an update from Joe on February 27…

Life here on the perimeter goes on – the last two days the weather has been lovely with sunny days and starry nights with full moon. The winds have been moderate ranging from 18-30 knots, mainly from the west but the next gale is imminent so I am in “batten down the hatches mode” once again.

Cape Horn looms about 2,300 miles ahead across some gnarly waters, so I am trying to proceed both quickly and cautiously as I pass the half-way mark from New Zealand.

I was definitely knocked back a step by my scary experience in the last gale, so have acted early today to get the storm jib up and the third reef in the main, to avoid having too much sail up when the worst of the blow hits. I have 30 knots of wind on the beam at the moment but the forecast is for up to 50, so I am trying to stay ahead of it. The last move would be to the 4th reef, so I will consider that before sunset, then hope to ride out the worst of it below in the cabin.

I am waiting for some calm weather to work on the damaged Solent jib. I emailed with sailmaker Mark Washeim at Doyle Sailmakers LI, and we both think/hope the sail can be made use-able again by simply cutting away the torn part of the foot and using the next horizontal seam up as the new foot. I can work on the sail without taking it down; I just need a calm day which is rare down here. The sail is a critical one in the arsenal, so hopefully I can get it back in the game soon.

Otherwise, I am missing my family and friends a lot but email is saving me – thanks to all for that. College lacrosse season has started so a shout out to the Virginia Cavaliers men’s lacrosse team and Coach Dom Starsia who have been big supporters of the GS2 RTW Kharma Bus campaign. Good luck fellas – I know you can do it. I can’t wait to get back to coach and watch my kids – Griffin, Emmett and Sophie – play, which I truly love.

So that’s about it for now – watching the wind dial and sea state rise – hopefully GS2 and I will weather yet another Southern Ocean blow.

Background: As a result of Joe’s 11-day detour to Cape Town (Dec 28-Jan 8), Joe will no longer be able to officially break the existing non-stop record of 137 days, 20 hours, 01 minute, 57 seconds – set by Chinese sailor Guo Chuan in 2013. However, he remains hopeful to unofficially better the mark. Website: www.gryphonsolo2.com

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