Joe Harris: Getting Back into the Routine
Published on January 12th, 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 January 12…
It’s Day 4 since the re-start in Cape Town on Friday night and Day 47 cumulatively of the GS2 RTW odyssey. It has been challenging mentally and psychologically to get back into my routine and positive mind set at sea after the Cape Town stop, with 90 days of the solo circumnavigation looming in front of me.
However, to take my mind off my troubles, I had a wonderful surprise yesterday as the cap to a large jar of honey stored in a duffle bag in the forepeak worked its way off, and the duffle bag became coated in honey. What a mess! Nothing would clean it except acetone and a ton of paper towels! Oy vey…
The weather is a bit frustrating at the moment as I am battling very light winds and the strong Agulhas current just south of the tip of South Africa. I guess this is known to be somewhat of a transition area, where the strong South East winds that blow up the western shore of South Africa meet with the prevailing Westerly winds to the south in the Roaring Forties – and in between – which is where I am – it can’t decide what to do!
So I have been experiencing light winds from all around the compass, as well as the mysterious Agulhas current, which snakes around the bottom of Africa in a westerly direction but also has a number of strong counter-currents and eddies (quite similar to the Gulf Stream) that cause navigation to be challenging. Because the prevailing winds are still SE – the direction I want to go – it has been a lot of upwind sailing, so I am thoroughly ready to return to the strong westerlies and downwind sailing that I was experiencing before I hung a left for the pit stop in Cape Town.
So here is a 24 hour “slice of life” for me while I re-discover my offshore routine and rhythm:
0530- wake up with the sun after (hopefully) a good two hour sleep- go on deck to check sail trim – make coffee – check email – have some cereal or oatmeal – nature call.
0730- download a new weather forecast – run my routing program (Adrena) – determine where I am trying to go for the next 24-48 hours and longer term goals.
1000- sail check – sail change – clean up cabin – check and charge batteries if needed – attack maintenance and repair chores – (often this revolves around getting water out of the boat and keeping water out of the boat) – read/write.
1200/Noon- light lunch of cheese and crackers or peanut butter or tuna/chicken w/mayo on a sea biscuit – maybe a bit of chocolate after – then if tired a nap for 20-30 minutes.
1400- focus on sailing the boat fast – make any sail changes or maneuvers (i.e tack or gybe) – in and out of foul weather gear multiple times.
1500- Receive the daily communication from Commanders Weather – check against my forecast and plan – email or quick phone chat with them if necessary – confirm 48 hour navigation plan – review any storm systems brewing in the general area that might become a factor.
1800- light snack – check and respond to emails – get boat ready for the night – deck check of running rigging – halyards clear – sails secure – get the right sails up for the night.
2000- sun goes down – usually spend time on deck watching the sunset and have a beer or something- maybe a little music – hopefully don’t get all melancholy – a short nap usually follows.
2200- For the eight hours of darkness, I focus on keeping the boat and myself safe – avoiding collision with another vessel or land – not making a big sail change unless it is totally necessary (which it sometimes is) – Monitor battery level and energy systems – solar, hydro, engine – charge as needed throughout the day via the appropriate method.
2400- Dinner of a freeze-dried Mountain House meal if that hungry – read/write, more e-mails, maybe watch a movie or nap in 20 minute intervals.
0200- Interval napping- with 7 hour current time change to home, I call about every other day to catch my family after their dinner – read, write.
0300- Usually my energy level is at its lowest, so if the boat is safe, I will try to catch a 2.5 hour nap until sunrise – doesn’t always happen as something often needs attention – but getting one decent block of sleep at least once in a 24 hour period is important to keep my brain and body strong. Target is 4.5 hours sleep per day.
So that is the story from 38’ 20 South X 24′ 09 East.
Background: While Joe will no longer be able to officially break the existing record of 137 days, 20 hours, 01 minute, 57 seconds – set by Chinese sailor Guo Chuan in 2013 – he will continue to unofficially better the mark. Website: www.gryphonsolo2.com