Jerome at the start of the Bishop Rock Race 2012 (C) Pat Reynolds
Saturday July 7th. Jerome has just crossed the half way point in the Single Handed Transpac on his way from San Francisco to Hawaii. He is racing on the smallest boat in the fleet – a 21 foot Pogo 2. This is the first time a Mini-TransAt has competed in the Single Handed Transpac and it will be the first time a boat of this class has been solo sailed across the pacific in a race.
The first half of the race hasn’t been without it’s challenges.
The very first night found the fleet becalmed just offshore from the start in San Francisco. The wind continued to be relatively light and the weather remained overcast for most of the journey so far. This has caused some problems in the fleet as sailors aren’t able to get the energy they need from their solar panels to power their auto pilots which means a lot more time at the helm. Jerome is well prepared for this scenario and his Pogo 2 is equipped with a 100W solar panel and an Efoy
fuel cell. The fuel cell transforms chemical energy (Methanol) into electrical energy directly, with no intermediate steps, no moving parts and with no significant loss in energy, making it a particularly efficient source of power. The Efoy unit itself is compact, the liquid fuel is easy to store and the only waste is heat and water vapor containing an insignificant amount of carbon dioxide.
After spending the first few days sailing with just the genoa and main sail the wind finally started to move aft and Jerome was able to start sailing with the spinnaker. “I was doing some great speed earlier in 20+ knots puffs – saw 12-13 SOG steady. Now it’s time to sail the boat a little more so I plan to spend more time at the helm. This afternoon I’m going to put the big spinnaker up, shake the reef off the main, and see how it goes.” Needless to say it went well and Jerome climbed up the rankings in his division and overall. He held the lead for a while in the “Fast & Fun” division and is currently in 2nd. Overall in the fleet Jerome has always been in the top 10 boats and he is currently 5th. There are still a lot of miles to cover but so far so good.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. On the 4th day Jerome’s tracker missed an upload right before the mandatory check in. The race committee and the coast guard are both monitoring the racers closely and this hiccup resulted in frantic phone calls and emails and put everybody on standby. Fortunately a few hours later the tracker was back online and everyone was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Daily life on the boat can be “very lonely, and a little boring at times!” but there is still plenty of excitement. It’s not uncommon for the boats to sail through squalls where the wind direction and intensity can change dramatically in a matter of minutes. Jerome seems to have handled them well so far “I’ve had some squalls come through and they are a total blast – as long as I have one reef in the main and code 5! Any more sail area than that and things get interesting!” Of course being on a boat also makes everyday tasks a little more challenging than usual “I did have one close call while using the bathroom, i.e. my bucket, a strong puff knocked the boat down and it took every bit of luck and skill not to lose the contents of the bucket inside the boat!!”
Jerome’s biggest adventure happened yesterday. After a night of very little wind, where Jerome had dropped the main and just been sailing with just the jib, he realized the mast head spinnaker had gotten lost up the mast. With the boat on autopilot and only the jib up to keep the boat balanced and sailing slowly in 10 knots of breeze Jerome had to climb the mast to retrieve the halyard – a risky maneuver on any boat at sea but even more dangerous when you’re on your own. After receiving a call saying “I’m going to climb the mast, if you don’t hear from me in a couple of hours something went wrong” the next few hours were spent by the phone worrying and waiting for it to ring. Everything went fine, the halyard was retrieved, and Jerome was on his way again.
There are still 1,060 miles left to go in the race. The weather forecast looks good – sunny skies and wind from astern – so it should be a downwind sleigh ride all the way to Hanalei Bay on the island of Kauai! It’s anyone’s guess as to what day Jerome will arrive but my money is he’ll make on July 13th.
Team Open Sailing would like to thank everyone for their support, especially : DISC
, UK Sails
, Monroe Construction
, Flying Buttress