Rolex Transatlantic 2005: Preparing for a Storm

Aboard Sariyah at 0600 May 25: 24 degrees, 24 minutes, 33 seconds north; 67 degrees, 14 minutes, 76 seconds. About 166 miles ESE of Nantucket.

As of late yesterday afternoon we'd moved up in class standings to second place, which was a real morale booster for the crew. The conditions have been light and shifty for the past 24 hours and we've been struggling to keep the boatspeed up. It's also hard to look at the Nobeltec screen and still see the coastline of the United States so frustratingly close. In an attempt to get on the safe side of a developing gale-the result of three low-pressure systems coming together to form one monster low-we've been trying to get below 38 degrees north latitude, but as you can see from our position, we haven't been all that successful. We have, however, made some easting, which finally has us heading toward the finish line. Last night's light conditions, combined with a lumpy Gulf Stream slop, did some damage to a couple of our sails, the mizzen staysail and the gennaker. In the last Transatlantic race one of the reasons Sariyah placed second was because we had a sailmaker and a sewing machine on board. This year we have one as well, Carol Tremain, who's been busy sewing, patching, and re-packing staysails and gennakers into their socks. When I came on watch at 3 a.m., the salon was full of blue sailcloth and blue language. On deck the watch about to come off had a tough night with massive shifts and many different sail combinations tried. We had a slightly better watch and were able to sail a little closer to our desired heading. Many land birds have come aboard in the last few days. At sunset last night two swallows came aboard after many aborted landing attempts. For most of the evening they clung to a lower lifeline amidships, and this morning they were huddled at the base of one of the shrouds. I hope they figure out that this landing area is moving away from land before we get too far offshore for them to be able to fly to shore. At around the same time the swallows came aboard we sighted a small sloop heading northeast. I called them on the VHF and they told me that they were coming from the Azores and heading to Newport. In a heavy French accent one of their crew told me that they had had great weather so far, but were expecting to get nailed by the same gale we were trying to avoid. I wished them luck. It's been very warm on deck, thanks to the Gulf Stream, and shorts and tee shirts have been the call for many of the crew. We're all trying to enjoy the warmth before we start heading north, north, north on our great circle route to England. This will be a brief report, as I'm bound for my bunk and a few hours of sleep before the multi-low begins to affect us and sleep becomes rare.