Sue Pelling's Blog from yacht Heartbeat III of Burnham, issued at1530 on Tuesday12 August 2009
We've had an interesting time over the last two days, since we sent ourfirst report. Sunday night - our first night - we struggled to reachPortland Bill lighthouse and after at least eight hours we finally setsail again, but not until about 0400 when a 8-10kt breeze filled in fromthe west.
Once round Land's End we hit a fresher breeze heading north to avoid theTSS, and stayed on starboard tack, sailing to the left-hand side of therumb line. All the boats we were in fairly close contact with aroundLand's End however, disappeared, and as the wind continued to fill infurther and further into the Irish Sea, we found ourselves totally alone.Even at night, when it's often easier to spot nav lights on the horizon,there was no one to be seen. That was, however, until we were joined by100s of playful dolphins who skipped around, weaving their way through ourbow wave keeping us entertained for well over half an hour.
Just as all of us were settling into life on board, and enjoying the big,rolling wave experience of the Irish Sea, our battery power failed leavingus in complete darkness with no instruments, and now way of communicatingby e-mail. Thankfully we have co-helmsman Clive White, who is also atalented marine engineer, onboard who managed to skilfully rebuild theelectronic system and after a few hours we were back on track again. Wepicked up the forecast backing wind which meant we were able to stay onport tack most of the way to the Rock.
The wind continued to build throughout the day on Tuesday reaching 24ktsat times and this, coupled with the big sea, made for a fairlyuncomfortable night for everyone. The temperature dropped too, and crewtiredness began to take its toll. A 10ft whale (actually it was aporpoise!) 20 metres away on Tuesday evening livened up the Port Watchcrew which meant Judy Payne James and I spent the rest of the night 'whale watching', and of course, watching out for other boats, because atthis time (Tuesday night) we'd still not seen another boat.
Although we are working on a strict four hours on, four hours off watchsystem, which works really well, tiredness among the crew was reallybecoming noticeable. A good night's sleep as the boat pitches and rolls,is definitely not in the schedule, in fact to describe it, it wouldn't betoo far from the truth to say it's like sleeping in a fast spin washingmachine. Nevertheless, we all feel a bit wrecked but we all still havesmiles on our faces and, when we rounded the Fastnet Rock at 1115 thismorning (Wednesday), the struggle to get here was made all worth while. Itreally is a magical, yet mysterious place but we were however, a littledisappointed not to see anyone cheering us on from the lighthouse thisyear. That certainly would have made even more special.
Anyway, as we rounded the Rock the wind was still up in the 20kt zone andwe cracked off slightly to make Pantaenius - the spacer mark - a furthersix miles on. We were joined by dolphins again here who seemed to enjoyleaping around our bow wave as we rounded mark, hoisted the kite andpowered off downwind. We're now currently enjoying the most glorioussleigh ride in the big rolling seas back towards Land's End.
As far as food goes, well, our good Kiwi fried Roger Temple has beenkeeping us well stocked up 24-7, and I honestly don't think I've eaten somuch in my life, and it's all been good too, None of that nastyfreeze-dried stuff that I was secretly dreading!
We now have 125 miles to go to Bishops Rock and if we keep up 8-10kts ofboat speed we're currently clocking up downhill, our predicted eta is 15hours.