20:01:26N 40:01:60W

ARC 2014 Blog for Yacht 'Jo'
Ted Watts/ Mark Watts
Wed 3 Dec 2014 15:26

Wednesday 3rd December 2014

Whilst crossing the pond, we’ve signed up to assist a study into marine microplastics. You’ve probably heard about concerns regarding micro and nano plastic particles entering the food chain. There are huge areas of floating plastic (the size of small countries) in the oceans which are slowly breaking down and releasing small particles of plastic which then enter the food chain. Not enough is known about the extent and concentration of these particles and what effects they may have upon the food chain. We are one of a number of boats in the ARC fleet who have volunteered to take samples of sea water  every three days, noting date, time, sample ID, location (lat and long) wind speed wind direction and water temperature. There is a strict methodology to the taking of samples, which we hand over for analysis when we get to St Lucia. If you’d like to know more, please visit: microplastics {CHANGE TO AT} adventureandscience {DOT} org.

We had a difficult decision to take last night; do we continue going fast in the wrong direction or slower in the right direction? It may sound like a no brainer to many of you; however, like many of these decisions it was highly nuanced and marginal.

Under a reefed main and full genoa our course over the ground was at best 270°M (starboard tack sailing as close to the lee as was safe with rolling seas), whilst our rhum line to our destination was approximately 260°. Whilst we were making excellent speed 8-9 knots, it would have meant sailing west and then jibing and sailing south.

The alternative was to go for our ‘barn door’ twin headsail arrangement; a classic rig for downwind trade winds and one that will tolerate sailing by the lea at angles of up to 50° off the wind. With slightly reduced canvas we knew our boat speed would be reduced but this was the trade off.

In the end we opted for the slower setup in the right direction. In part this was because it is somewhat exhausting forever trying to stay on top of a bucking bronco, but also because we were at the mercy of any veering wind changes to the south which would have meant jibing onto what was clearly not the making tack.

Having given it a go overnight, we have averaged about 7 knots with a COG of 265°M helping to bring us south back onto our rhum line. The biggest unexpected bonus however, is that the boat is much more stable, pitches less and requires a lighter touch on the helm, which is good news for the boat and crew. 


 Our trade winds ‘barn door’ rig

PS. just because so many of you have been pestering me for the answer to yesterday’s photo teaser (not!) I can reveal it is the boats latest hand whittled cup holder, lovingly whittled, filed and sanded for 2 hours by Alastair and Ian to suit our oversized mugs; just in case you wondered how we pass the time of day!-)