Into the North Sea

We’ve had 24 hours of enormous contrast. Yesterday evening it was still beautiful summer weather, and we were ghosting along on blue seas, sometimes glassy, and sometimes faintly rippled, with lazy dolphins circling around, barely enough wind at times to keep the A1 flying. ANd now were are bashing along on steely grey waves flecked with white – two reefs in the main, and we’ve done a yankee change for the first time since San Francisco.
Between these two states was our rounding the top of Scotland. After close racing in the evening, particularly against Pulteny and Switzerland, with GB and PSP on the horizon having taken a more offshore and windier route to reach us, we eventually switched to white sails. The wind increased overnight, and we had up to 2O knots as we close reached past the Butt of Lewis and Cape Wrath. THe dawn found us close reaching on slatey grey water, large dolphins surfacing alongside, and hosts of small creamy jellyflish drifting below the surface.
We wereracing towards the Pentland Firth with about siz other CV’s around. THe sun rose behind the impressive ciffs of Orkney – GB’s sail stood out against the
dark imposing islands, downwind and further out in the channel. PUlteny and Switzerland were between us and the Scottish mainland shore, and PSP was just behind us as we passed the old Doun Ray nuclear power station and the slabby cliffs of Dunnet head. Pulteny put on quite a burst of speed and passed us. I went down to make breakfast – last mother! – and when I next looked up on deck PUtleny and GB were neck and neck, almost touching, racing just ahead, and we were on the strange white-whipped waters of the Pentland Firth. We had all arrived before the ideal tide, but the current against us was not too strong, it being neap tides right now. THere was some very tight racing between the three boats – in the end we cut inside GB and Pulteny, and eventually took the lead. We were able to leave gB further behind when we made it past the windward side of an oil installation, but GB were too close and had to go downwind to avoid the exclusion zone. LUcky for us, but I’m sure they’ll fight back. With up to 3O knots of wind, and plenty of bashing and slamming to go with it, this has been our first taste of bad weather in a long time – we’d all become quite fat and lazy, I think. We are back to waves streaming over the deck and down the companionway – everybody is thoroughly soaked, and Eric has been on deck almost the entire day. THe racing is just too close for anyone to relax! It has not been an easy day to be mother either, with the usual bevy of things throwing themselves around the galley, and water pourig down the hatch, too, but Emma and I have managed quite well, and the crew has been fed. At this angle, opening the oven to put the bread in is one of our biggest challenges, but we’ll find a way. From TeamHLFiftyYOPS in the North Sea, goodnight.

2 thoughts on “Into the North Sea

  1. Hi Sarah, WOW, what a fantastic achievement. Congratulations to you and all of the Henri Lloyd crew. We’ve been following the race right from the start, back in September last year. It’s been so exciting tracking your progress.

    We have tickets to board one of the official spectator boats which will greet you next weekend and follow the fleet as you sail up the Thames. Then we will be at the prize-giving ceremony in St. Katherine’s Dock – so we will be watching and waving and cheering even if you don’t see us!

    Jonathan and Liz

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