Le Pot au Noir & Whale Strikes 6.15.00N 25.20.00W

Suzie Too - Western Caribbean
David & Suzanne Chappell
Sun 6 Dec 2009 17:22
Today the position file arrived early, because the Rallye organisers are
back in Paris for the boat show. Things are still looking good for Suzie
Too, as we achieved the 5th best distance yesterday in light airs, less than
10 kts and the 10th best speed (and some are motoring now), we flew Big Blue
for over 24 hours from 0400 Sat until 0800 Sun trying to squeeze the last
few miles from the wind before we are becalmed between the squalls. Today,
Sunday, we are still leading Group 3 having overtaken 4 boats in Group 2
with 1,500M to run to Salvador to Bahia, although Auhema a Group 3 boat is
way to the west of us, but not further south.

179 Tog Gwen
165 Antinea
164 Auhéma
162 Suzie Too - Still really pleased with my official 200M day
yesterday !!
159 African Sea Wing
158 Vita

Lisa and I have just pulled the chute down now as we have a huge
thunderstorm 12M ahead of us, as we enter the northern edge of the ITCZ
(Doldrums - pot au noir as our French cousins call it) so it will be reef
down, get whacked and then motor through the calms for the next 200M. So
everything is grey, the sea, the sky and the cloud cover, which has been
building as we head into the ITCZ, just called Mina 2 and Tim has also just
started motoring for the same reasons. Then all of a sudden you are in blue
skies, blazing heat and no wind, if we weren't pushing some breeze through
the boat by motoring it would be stifling, the water is almost 29, the air
is 32 and the boat interior is 30. Anyway bit cooler now, just got whacked
again and pulled 3 reefs in the main and staysail only in torrential rain
and now we get the lightening and have just put the handheld electronics
into the oven to protect them

Just got the latest weather and it look like I may get away with 100M of
motoring (cos it can be 400M if you get it wrong), that will be really
nice - just 1/2 day with the engine on and a chance for the batteries to
come back up to 100% and still have over 400
litres of fuel left. My plan was to get to the equator with at least 1/2
tank of diesel left so we seem to be ahead of plan

Havanita has sent some routing by email, I don't fully understand the
French, but he did tell me don't worry about the black clouds in the pot au
noir, most of their energy has been spent, worry about the white fluffy
ones - they are the ones that will kill you.

Some news in the fleet, (kindly translated by Ghostly Paul on babelfish)
X-Trem has blown his spinnaker last night and is really upset because it was
only 12 hours old and made by the same people that make them for Alinghi.
That maybe 6 spinnakers now, I've lost count, but if you come this way bring
at least 2!!

But worse they hit a sleeping whale last night in the pitch black and rode
up on it's back and were thrown from their bunks as the helmsman slammed
into the wheel. The whale, about twice the length of the boat - so 90ft or
30m, has been injured with two deep gouges in its back and was losing a lot
of blood and they are upset and hope it will survive.

The previous night Bambi 2 had a similar experience and hit a whale that
came up on their port side at about 0500 and says the whale was diving under
the boat, they could smell its breath and it hit the hull a few times
frightening them to death. In the morning they had the video camera under
the boat to inspect potential damage, but both boats are
still heading for Brazil at the moment.

Better news is that Alexi on Maupiti has caught the largest fish so far - a
15kg tuna, so it's tuna all the way to Brazil for the 3 of them

Best Regards

David, Suzanne & Lisa

Moody 49 "Suzie Too"

Iridium: 00881 631 570 846
Web Blog: www.mailasail.com - Click "Diary" Click "Suzie Too"