World ARC - Day 68 - 16th March - Driving the boat

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Fri 18 Mar 2016 06:29
09:42S 120:46W

World ARC - Day 68 - 16th March - Driving the boat

After the very enjoyable time the day before last driving the boat in the pouring rain Steve and Peter decide it would be fun to have another go today without the rain. Conditions are good with 20 knots of wind from the east which is perfect for our westerly heading. Our strategy was to head south from The Galapagos then run along at more or less 9 degrees south of the equator. The weather information to date has confirmed this to be a good choice and we have avoided the bad weather experienced by other members of the ARC fleet further north.

For downwind sailing we use the mainsail in combination with the foresail poled out on the opposite side and the storm sail running at ninety degrees between the other two. On previous passages Steve had discovered the benefits of the trisail in holding up the boat in sloppy conditions when we would otherwise rock from side to side in sloppy seas. Today we want to take advantage of the favourable wind to maximise our speed without sacrificing all comfort as the racers are wont to do. With some experimentation we want to find the best balance between the main and the foresail/trisail combination. The large mainsail acts so as to drive us forward but also rotates us anti clockwise around the mast. In contrast the foresail/mainsail drive forward but with a clockwise pressure from forward of the mast. Balancing the two rotations is key because the waves come from the port side and continuously knock us sideways. Ideally we want the autopilot to correct the wave action with the minimum of effort as the sails do the work of correcting the side to side yawing action.
After raising and lowering the mainsail a few times, trimming the foresail and adjusting the trisail we declare ourselves happy with the result. In the process we realise the trisail is helping to keep the foresail filled in lighter winds. The two are effectively joined at the forestay and present an L shape to the wind. The foresail is about 15% more effective in this combination today compared to when it is used on its own. So when the wind drops from time to time instead of flapping around making a huge racket the foresail stays full and continues to work very well.

As night falls we adjust the sailset for safety so it can cope with less attention and deal with any gusts which may arise. It takes a few trials but a satisfactory combination is achieved. During the night this is tested up to 28 knots with good results. Everything stays balanced and as comfortable as can be expected in a lumpy sea.

Apart from all this sailoring as its called on board the crew are well fed enjoying freshly baked scones for breakfast, fresh bread straight from the oven for lunch with cheese and in the evening a light supper. We also decided it is time to put the clocks back another hour since we are more than 120 degrees west. So tomorrow we will change time at 13:00 and we will then be 8 hours behind UTC (GMT). Roll call on the SSB will then be an hour earlier on Nina time which is compounded by a decision of the fleet to bring the call forward an hour. Hopefully we will not confuse ourselves.