Day 1

Digiboat's "Product Testing"
Simon Blundell
Tue 25 Oct 2011 17:34
08°28.9923N 108°50.1145E
Wed 26/10 0100
Perfect trade wind sailing for our first 26 hrs. 15-20kn broad reach in mostly smooth following sea has had us trucking along at speeds peaking over 14kn and an average of 8.5kn.
We pulled anchor at Nha Trang after a roast dinner around 9pm Mon and within the hour had cleared the entrance channel and jumped straight into strong winds and fast speeds. With a reef in the main, full mizzen and full genoa we sustained speeds over 10kn for the entire first night. During my dog watch a series of thunderstorms/squalls rained down on us with consistent 25-30kn of wind. Furled the genny to a small triangle and waited for the squalls. The first paralleled us for an hour with just occasional light rain, but we were right on its leading edge - in the lightning belt. For over half hour we were surrounded by lightning bolts hitting the water within a few hundred metres and the following thunderclaps literally shaking the boat. The lightning was so close and so intense that if you looked at it you were stun-blinded for minutes - like looking at the sun. I found myself willing the inevitable torrential rains to arrive as this generally means you've cleared the lightning region. The rain did eventually envelope us and was heavy enough to flatten the sea. So, with flat seas, 25+kn wind on the quarter, we charged at 13-14kn for several hrs until the squall passed. I could say nothing to Win, one of the Sea Cadets, anything that sounded re-assuring to him. I think he didn't believe that yachts are expected to survive such conditions. Meanwhile I was having the funset sail in recent memory and wondering why none of the other "sailors" aboard were up sharing it with me? But it was bucketing, and several bottles of wine were sunk during dinner....
The dawn approached with partly clearing skies and firm winds. Only one squall hit during the day, although several threatened. We hit the record speed so far for the trip at 14.8kn during a 28kn gust. And, aside from an hr lull early afternoon, the winds stayed at the typical trade wind strength 15-20.
Evan and I have been reminiscing about last year's trip from Vietnam to Singapore. In the aftermath of Typhoon MEGI, and just 3 of us onboard, we sailed the 800 miles to Sing in 4 days with only a number 2 staysail - reaching speeds of 17.3kn. Evan had the record speed, followed closely by me with 16.9, then 3rd place the Autopilot (now been renamed HAL after some more independent thought demonstrations today) with 15.7 and Mike Champion in 4th place with 14.9. (Mike's not onboard this trip for a rematch with HAL, but his presence is firmly part of the China Sea and EO anecdote collection).
Another roast dinner last night (lamb) to maintain EO's culinary standard at sea, and another heavy dig into the wine cellar and everyone's snoring soundly as I come back up for the dog watch. More calm seas and moderate winds so more great sailing and fast speeds, and so far the RADAR is showing no rain. One of the cadets is asleep on the aft deck - I noticed he's tethered himself to the liferaft painter, not sure if that was intentional or subliminal...