Tuesday, 4th August:
We are in L´Aber Wrac´h / France. In the late morning hours we loosen the ropes to bring the trimaran crossways from the Biscaya to Spain. Because of the last couple weeks' bad weather condition, now the forecast is good: Today NW 3-4 Bft, tomorrow N 4-5 and the day after tomorrow NE 5-6.
A high pressure field has settled and the barometer shows over 1035 hPa.
From Sunday to Monday we had the trimaran already shipped to here from Lezardieux and had one day and one night to check the boat. As known are the on-wind-properties bad, so you only can drive a maximum of half-wind speed. In addition, the external engine is dragged through the water that it is doubtful if it will start after a long trip. Well, the vikings could not cross and had no engine and made it to America (it is claimed at least). The only thing to do is to wait for the right wind.
On Monday the wind blew with 6 Bft from SW, which was quite the direction we wanted.
The weather gave us some time to tune up the trimaran: We installed a glass domed roof, which made it possible for us to see even if the hatch was closed. And you definitely have to get used to the steering position: You sit about half a meter (1,5 feet) above sea level in a 60cm x 60cm (2ft x 2ft) square. From the front and on the sides you are protected by a tarpaulin. From the back the INMARSAT antenna gives you a nice back rest.
How you stay dry in this place during waves is not clear yet -- but that is why we installed the glass domed roof. We use a fender as a seat, steering is done with the foot on a wheel, that could be expected on a game console instead here. The reaction time of the rudder is compare able with a super tanker.
With all doubts, the trimaran lies stable in the water. We have bunkered enough food and the wind is good. So loose ropes and course to Capo Finisterre (= " The end of the world"), the most north-west point of Spain. Target harbour is Bayona at Vigo.
Wednesday, 5th August
On the first day the navigation along the Bretagne coast took our attention as well as, the optimization of the sailing trim and a bunch of dolphins. Than everything makes way for the unavoidable 3 hour rhythm: 3 hours awake, 3 hours sleep. We establish a checklist on which we document all worth mentioning events: 43 freighter, 5 sailing yachts, 12 dolphins and 6 sea gulls where sighted and 3 latitudes where crossed.
Life under deck is like the stay in a big box. The auto pilot works uninterrupted and distinct in the back, in the front one of the two diesel engines starts in a regular intervals and spreads besides comfortable heat "only a little bit of exhaust".
Thursday, 6th August
About noon we have left behind more than 3/4 of the Biscaya. The waste heat of the generators suits me just fine, because the stay on deck was very wet. As predicted the wind changed to NE and freshens up at evening to about 6-7 Bft. Only now the trimaran is in his elements, because the 430 square ft (40 qm) sail
is equivalent to a 1-2 times snatched standard sail. We make about 9 knots of speed in average. On waves we sometimes gain speed up to 13 or 14 knots. The sea built up and the seat on the fender is wet. Suddenly a wave crashes into the open hatch. I have the feeling to be standing waist deep in water. The pump works just great...
Best thing to do - stand up. I am standing secured on deck and imagine to ride on a flying carpet. The same way it must look for the fisher man, who passes us in a far distance at dawn. Because of the high waves I only can see the very top of his boat, corresponding to this the fisher man is not able to see our trimaran. The whole appearance reduces it to one sail with a crazy man behind it, who waves over. I do not know what made him do it, but he shot a white flare high in the air.
About midnight we made about 166 sea miles and are about 40 sea miles away from Capo Finisterre. The sailing makes a lot of fun, because the trimaran runs smooth and nice -- maybe too good.
Friday, 7th August
After switching the guard duty at 00.00am, Reiner is steering the trimaran manually for a little while and realizes that the he can not got further starboard. We try to switch to manual control, without success. One after another we open vents of the hydraulics and remove a bolt in order to steer directly with the emergency rudder. The rudder can be moved only short-term, than it seems to be stuck -- unfortunately in a way that we only can sail in a circle.
This means strike sail, in a better way - tell the computer to do it. Sometime it is down. Through rotation of the mast we can force the trimaran to drift in a certain direction with a speed of 1.5 knots. Gladly the FM radio works on channel 16 and I can inform the 'Capo Finisterre Traffic Control' that we have a navigation problem and float in a high frequented area.
In the morning a light wind is blowing from East. We check the rudder again. Than we make sail and try to steer via sail-trimming, which ends up in circles. The next thing we try is to start the outboard motor. As expected the engine does not start. Even a change of the spark plugs does not help. As we do not want to sail to America like vikings, I ask the 'Capo Finisterre Traffic Control' for support. In less than an hour a tout arrives and brings us to La Coruna. With a speed of 6 knots the remaining 30 sea miles take us about 5 hours. We can see at the old yacht club of La Coruna, that the rudder stays crossways and bend about 30 degrees to the rear.
Editorial office annotation:
Translated by Martin Siefert