50 knot winds and 50 foot seas
Published on December 15th, 2022
American Joe Harris along with Roger Junet are competing in the Globe40, an eight-leg doublehanded round the world race in Class40s. Seven teams were at the beginning on June 26, with five teams now on the fifth leg from Papeete, Tahiti to Ushuaia, Argentina.
After starting on November 26, Harris files this report from onboard GryphonSolo2 on December 15, 2022:
Its getting pretty real down here at 55° South latitude as we are 745 miles to the west of Cape Horn on the final approach.
It is F’in cold – I cant seem to get warm, even in my sleeping bag, with our JetBoil water heater as our only source of heat. Roger has taken to making a hot water bottle that he brings into the bag with him for his feet and that seems to work, so I am adopting his strategy.
Cold and windy here in the South Pacific. Game time. Hostile environment. Back to basics. “Show me the money, Jerry!”
If you will indulge me, I’d like to tell a quick story about cold weather. When I was about 23 years old, and a recent graduate of the Landing School of Boatbuilding in Kennebunkport, Maine, I connected with a boatbuilder in New Hampshire named Geoffrey Burke.
Geoffrey is a master builder of lapstrake canoes, built out of northern white cedar. He lived in northern New Hampshire and we agreed to build an 18-foot boat together in January. He lived a very basic, back-country lifestyle with heat by wood stove, no running water, and an outhouse.
So each morning we would rise around 6:00am, with the temperature about 10° below zero, and Geoffrey would light the wood stove and boil water for “Cowboy Coffee” which is when you pour ground coffee into to a pot of boiling water, let it sit for five minutes and then pour it through a not-very-fine strainer.
Needless to say, the coffee was strong and it didn’t take but ten minutes before Geoffrey would announce with great pleasure, “Joby, I got a big brown bear knocking on my back door – I’ll be back in a few minutes” and off he would go to the outhouse.
He would return and I would follow him and that’s how our day began, with a supremely satisfying act, that got us going in the right direction. Nights were spent listening to ‘Burt and I’ tapes of old Maine storytelling. The beautiful canoe we built still rests comfortably on our porch in Hamilton.
The same basic truths and patterns exist onboard. Ya gotta find a way to stay warm and alert, and I have found drinking Irish coffee to be a pretty good method. But how many Irish coffees can one man drink in a day? I might be exploring the outer boundaries – like Joey Chestnut eating 100 hot dogs in one sitting. Dude is a world champion.
Our weather/routing software tells us we are four days and 10 hours from the finish line. The issue is that there are a series of low pressure storm systems sweeping around Cape Horn about every two days packing up to 50 knot winds and 50-foot seas.
The trick is to get close – say by Diego Ramirez Island – and then pick the opportune moment to hang a left and cross the Continental Shelf, past Islas Hornas, and then into the finish at Islas Nuevas. From there it’s 70 miles up the Beagle Channel to Ushuia, in hopefully mild conditions, given the frontal passage.
We are analyzing this continuously …please rub your rosary beads until we are around Cape Horn.
Note: The scoring format gives extra value to the longer legs.
The inaugural Globe40 is an eight leg round the world race for doublehanded Class40 teams. As all legs count toward the cumulative score, the longer distances more heavily weighted. The first leg, which took seven to eight days to complete, had a coefficient 1 while the second leg is ranked as a coefficient 3 leg. The race is expected to finish March 2023. Seven teams were ready to compete, but a Leg 1 start line collision eliminated The Globe En Solidaire with Eric and Léo Grosclaude (FRA) while the Moroccan team of Simon and Omar Bensenddik on IBN BATTOUTA retired before the Leg 2 start.
Tangier, Morocco – June 26
Leg 2 start: Sao Vincente, Cape Verde Islands – July 17
Leg 3 start: Port Louis, Mauritius – September 11
Leg 4 start: Auckland, New Zealand – October 29
Leg 5 start: Papeete, French Polynesia – November 26
Leg 6 start: Ushuaia, Argentina
Leg 7 start: Recife, Brazil
Leg 8 start: St Georges, Grenada