a Uk sailor that build his own boat, did the Transat in 2001 and came back for more.... His campaignis an example of "low" budget Mini sailing... His season was a difficult one due to a collision he had, with a lot of damage. His sails where a bit dodgy...So he really had to overcome some difficulties ;)
12 Days to go for the start...Sept 2003
The real thing...LEG 1, Sept 2003
La Rochelle - Puerto Calero, Lanzarote 1250 miles solo
MINI TRANSAT LEG 2 LANZAROTE - SALVADOR DA BAHIA 2900 MILES
We departed Lanzarote in strong breeze from the n.e. probably 30kts, but certainly crazy. Some guys were just pushing too hard and over cooked it. Fred Dutill and Ghislain Dendron dropped there masts that night. I carried the small spi and 2 reefs until midnight but it was only marginally controllable and 16 kts was common on the speedo. Jaume Mumbro said he did over 22kts that night.....so then for sanityīs sake it was down to the jib and 2 reefs.
From what i can remember, it all kind of blurs into one, it was down wind but moderate all the way to the Cape Verdeislands. Cian Mccarthy was always in vhf contact and 20 or so miles in front which gave me a big incentive to push because we had a tenner bet riding. Mckee and Manuard were just miles out front when the vhf schedules came through at 0800 and 1900 hrs. It was mind blowing how much faster they were.
I sailed through the Cape Verde islands between santiago and Fogo, a huge volcano coming straight out of the ocean to 2500+m high, it was an awesome sight. I was sailing with Chris Sayer all this day, my spirits were up because heīs a good sailor and i canīt have been doing too badly. I gybed away from him in the evening and took 20 miles out of him overnight. I ran out of gas at this point as well... Cold freeze dried from then on.
Then the funky wind thing started to happen...... The trade winds were not playing. I was waiting for the shift to the east but it never came and the wind was light. The crap weather started at 10 degrees north, miserable skies, rain, and the wind was from the South sector but constantly shifting. This went on all the way to 2 degrees north. With foul current and a bad wind angle we were tacking trough 120 degrees and it was heart breaking to look at the vmg on the gps. At 2 North the skies cleared up and it wasnīt quite as miserable... I was full of anticipation, thinking i was far enough east to be able to lay the Brazialian coast with the code 0 when the SE-E shift came....but that didnīt happen either..
So we pottered upwind, not hard on the wind but 50-60 degrees off, for hundreds of miles and all the time there was a knot or more of current against us. It was taking ages and i was getting low on food, i had to start rationing down to 1 meal per hundred miles. I ended up footing too hard, going for speed and naturally asuming that the wind would be more favourable down the coast of Brazil - how wrong i was. I ended up pinned on the coast and having to beat my way all the way down from Recife to just outsideSsalvador. Guys to the East were smiling, sailing faster in stronger breeze and taking big miles out of me. I knew i was 12 or 13 place but could do nothing to stop these guys passing me.
2 days before the finish we got a bit of a kicking when a front came and sat on top of us . I was 8 miles off the coast and in trouble because the water was only 20 m deep and the seastate was not pretty with 30+ kts whipping it up. I lost miles there because i had to tack offshore or i would have been mast less like a lot of other people.... Sam Manuard lost his mast in the same storm but he was in the lead and only 80 miles from the finish... Shocker....
Personally, i had no breakages other than one batten in the mainsail and my specs, so i now look like an uncool Harry Potter with my old spare pair held together with tape. I lost 9 kilos of body weight, so i am now a bit thinner, got really bad sunburn on my backside when i was trying to dry my very spotty arse. The boat isuncomfortable to say the least but very sound and reliable. I finshed in 18th or 19th place again, probably around 13th or so overall. The trip took 3 weeks exactly. My school report reads.... Can do better but considering my budget this year and the sails i took i am quite content.
So iīd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped me out, it would have been impossible without other peoples input both personally and more importantly financially.... Would i do itagain? I think i need a labotomy if i do because this leg has been a very expensive way of boring yourself to death but i will never say never. The boat is for sale or charter as of now, so if anyone is interested in a reliable mini, let them know
I want to do the Around alone next, that is not a completely unrealistric goal.. But for this i do need to find a sponsor... But for now itīs back to work to pay back the debts.