Dodging Ships in the Bay of Biscay

Published on February 21st, 2017

(February 21, 2017; Day 108) – Conrad Colman (NZL/USA) is determined to finish his first Vendée Globe. Dismasted on February 10 with 739 nm remaining, he has since managed to set a jury rig to stay in the race. Running low on food and power with 278 nm to go, Colman reports from the north side of Spain.

You would think that with the boom repaired, sails sorted, and food rationed out, I could just kick back and relax on Foresight Natural Energy to watch the miles (slowly) count down. Sadly no! I am back in busy European coastal waters and there are few spare moments as I am constantly on watch to avoid being run down by cargo ships or fishing boats that don’t look where they are going.

To make matters worse, I lost my electronic aids like radar and AIS when the mast went down so I am back to kicking it old school with a pair of binoculars and a hand held compass to calculate collision vectors. Low cloud and swirling mist complicate the job because swirls in the clouds sometimes turn into speeding ships but more often than not hide nothing but my over active imagination.

Fishing boats, while slower, complicate things further with their intensely bright work lights that drown out their navigation lights so it’s hard to know which way their going at night. Seeing a bright blob in between the crests but not knowing how to avoid it is like knowing you’re sick but not how to treat yourself!

A big thank you to all who have written in with encouragements and suggestions. One great idea from a Foresight employee was to use an emergency foil blanket as a reflector to boost solar performance. Nice idea and I would certainly try it had I not ruined the ones on board when I cooked the composite repair on the boom. Others have suggested that I eat seaweed. Sadly, with my return to coastal waters, there are more plastic bottles than seaweed and the excellent Nautix racing antifouling on the boat has stopped all growth below the waterline, even at such slow speeds!

While I am constantly hungry, I am surprised by my capacity to manage it. As in normal life, I have a fast metabolism and am never far from a healthy snack to keep the fires burning. As I was very severe in my rationing initially, I should now have nearly 800 calories per day if I am able to make it to port by Friday night, February 24.

Final Results (Top 10 of 29)
1. Banque Populaire VIII, Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), Finished, 74d 03h 35m 46s (1/19/17)
2. Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson (GBR), Finished, 74d 19h 35m 15s (1/20/17)
3. Maître CoQ, Jérémie Beyou (FRA), Finished, 78d 06h 38m 40s (1/23/17)
4. StMichel-Virbac, Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Finished, 80d 01h 45m 45s (1/25/17)
5. Queguiner – Leucemie Espoir, Yann Elies, (FRA), Finished, 80d 03h 11m 09s (1/25/17)
6. Finistère Mer Vent, Jean Le Cam (FRA), Finished, 80d 06h 41m 54s (1/25/17)
7. Bureau Vallée, Louis Burton (FRA), Finished, 87d 21h 45m 49s (2/2/17)
8. Spirit of Hungary, Nándor Fa (HUN), Finished, 93d 22h 52m 09s (2/8/17)
9. CommeUnSeulHomme, Eric Bellion (FRA), Finished, 99d 04h 56m (2/13/17)
10. La Mie Câline, Arnaud Boissière (FRA), Finished, 102d 20h 24m 09s (2/17/17)

Race detailsTrackerRankingFacebookVendeeGlobe TV

The eighth Vendée Globe, which began November 6 from Les Sables d’Olonn, France, is the only non-stop solo round the world race without assistance. Twenty-nine skippers representing four continents and ten nations set sail on IMOCA 60s in pursuit of the record time set by François Gabart in the 2012-13 race of 78 days, 2 hours and 16 minutes.

For the first time in the history of the event, seven skippers will set sail on IMOCA 60s fitted with foils: six new boats (Banque Populaire VIII, Edmond de Rothschild, Hugo Boss, No Way Back, Safran, and StMichel-Virbac) and one older generation boat (Maitre Coq). The foils allow the boat to reduce displacement for speed gains in certain conditions. It will be a test to see if the gains can topple the traditional daggerboard configuration during the long and demanding race.

Retirements (11):
November 12, Day 7 – Tanguy de Lamotte, Initiatives Coeur, masthead crane failure
November 19, Day 14 – Bertrand de Broc, MACSF, UFO collision
November 22, Day 17 – Vincent Riou, PRB, UFO collision
November 24, Day 19 – Morgan Lagravière, Safran, UFO collision
December 4, Day 29 – Kojiro Shiraishi, Spirit of Yukoh, dismasted
December 6, Day 31 – Kito de Pavant, Bastide Otio, UFO collision
December 7, Day 32 – Sébastien Josse, Edmond de Rothschild, foil damage
December 18, Day 43 – Thomas Ruyant, Le Souffle du Nord, UFO collision
December 24, Day 49 – Stéphane Le Diraison, Compagnie du Lit – Boulogne Billancourt, dismasted
December 24, Day 49 – Paul Meilhat, SMA, keel ram failure
January 1, Day 57 – Enda O’Coineen, Kilcullen Voyager-Team Ireland, dismasted


Source: Vendee Globe

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