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Switching Hemispheres : Ronnie Digging South


  • Switching Hemispheres : Ronnie Digging South

    Shipyard Brewing Blog

    Tuesday November 14 – 1400

    Aloha from the Southern Hemisphere! At 0349 UTC this morning, myself and Shipyard Brewing crossed the equator headed south. The first major milestone in this journey around the globe, this milestone is the accumulation of a lot of smaller milestones. First it was the start, and then getting out of Europe. The Canary Islands, the Cape Verdes and then the Doldrums. And now beating across the Southeast Trades, we have crossed the equator and entered a new hemisphere. To go from the northern hemisphere winter in Europe to south of the equator off of Brazil, solo, in just 15 days is pretty cool. Who knows what will unfold before Shipyard Brewing crosses this mythical mark again.

    I have more or less settled in to second place out of my start group, and slowly continued to chip away at the boats that started ahead of me. I had hoped to be more competitive, but First Light is simply a quicker boat in most conditions and Cole is doing a good job of sailing the boat near it’s potential. I’ve got a funky old Open 50 that I boot-strapped to the starting line and to be most of the way down the Atlantic and in the top third of my start group and the overall standings isn’t too bad. It’s important for me to continue to sail my own race and keep putting miles under the keel and just see where we end up. If I try to hang onto a quicker boat, I’m going to push too hard and break stuff and not finish the race. Mentally, it’s also important for me to not be upset about having a speed deficit and not being in the lead. It would be a real bummer to go around the world and be just that; bummed.

    There have been a number of problems onboard Shipyard Brewing, but day by day I have overcome them and just continued plugging along. Suffice to say, sailing in your first solo around-the-world race on an Open 50 can be a very humbling endeavor at times. Right now we are beating upwind – cracked off just a couple of degrees for comfort, speed, and boat preservation – and doing 9 knots south more or less. I eased sheets a bit more last night and found my course had more west in it than I would prefer, so I have come back up a few degrees to sail a better course almost perfectly due south.

    The Doldrums were challenging and frustrating to say the least. While the trades hung in there a little further than I expected, they finally died just as I met my first huge squall front at about 2 AM a few days ago. Battling through a massive squall front with the main being reefed and un-reefed, the jib being furled and un-furled and the staysail hoisted and doused repeatedly. With wind all over the map and intense rainfalls, it remained a real challenge for the morning. And then… it turned glorious. 6 knots of wind filled in for most of the day with glorious sunshine and not a cloud in sight. Had I escaped the Doldrums that quickly? Oh no, my friend. There was plenty more in sight. That night came with a big glass-off that was followed by a decent night of sailing. The next morning, however, I woke up to a sunrise that was filled with squall clouds all around. A very squally day two days ago that really tested my patience, and then wind that kept on dropping off even more than forecast. Yesterday after a challenging morning, we finally escaped the clutches of the doldrums and have now been beating into southeasterly trades for more than a day now.

    For the most part, life is good onboard Shipyard Brewing. The autopilot, our Forum pilot computer, has been performing admirably since being field promoted to our primary on the first night. There are several other issues aboard however, each of which I am monitoring closely. I have begun to put together a ‘pit stop kit’ in Maine, with the thinking that if and when I decide to make a technical stop, we will have more autopilot parts ready to get on a plane and fly to wherever I’m at. I considered Brazil, but it’s too early. Unless something changes drastically in the next few days, I don’t think I’ll be making a stop in South America. Cape Town could happen, but if the boat is still in good shape passing Cape Town, I’ll probably just keep going. Who knows, I may make it all the way around without stopping, but a stop in Cape Town, Western Oz, Hobart or south island New Zealand seem the most likely to me. But for right now, in this moment, it is nice sailing south. The sun is shining and despite being upwind, it’s quite moderate at about 14 knots of breeze and therefore quite manageable and comfortable. Headed south at 9 knots, we’ll be through the trades and then do some reaching and downwind sailing before crossing into the Great South, which lies literally just a week or two ahead of me. Wild to think about.

    Aloha from Shipyard Brewing
    1*26 South, 27*53 West
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