Crew member on GBR976R Selene
Wednesday 20 February
After a great run down to the SE corner of St Marten we hardened up and dropped the Badger in good style before beginning what seemed an interminable beat up to the Anguilla Channel to Tintamarre. We caught up well on Coyote and Milanto, but the last 2 miles seemed to take forever and the sun had set before we were able to bear away for the fetch to the corner of St Barts where we bore away for a power reach with the No.3 and full main in 20-23 kts of breeze TWA 75 degrees at between 8.5 and 10 kts boat speed. We went West of Redonda and Montserrat, unlike Challenger and Coyote who stayed high to pass to weather of the islands. We passed about 5 miles off Montserrat and had a little wind shadow when the breeze dropped to 15 kts and the boat flattened out a bit.
We decided to start the engine to charge the batteries only to find that 9 hours at 45 degrees heel on port had once again resulted in salt water ingress into the engine even though we had raised the exhaust about a foot from where it was on the ARC.
Trying to start the engine resulted in a heart dropping clunk again as the engine refused to crank. This was about 7.15 this morning. The diagnosis of hydrolock was quickly made as the circumstances were almost identical to our experience on the ARC, and even more quickly Dave and Angus leapt into action to solve the problem. We had to disconnect the exhaust to drain so much water out of the hose and engine exhaust box that we thought to exhaust was still under water! Next off came the injectors and we turned the engine over forcing the salt water out of the cylinders along with a fair bit of diesel in a spectacular fountain up the side of the companionway. Back together again, only to find the engine still wouldnt crank so the process was repeated and finally after a few hesitant cranks and intermittent firing the engine burst into life again greeted by cheers for the mechanical wizards who got us back on track.
The whole process only took an hour, and although initially we were, to some extent, in the lee of Montserrat, the boat was still heeled so we furled the genoa and sailed on with main alone, still making around 5 kts, so we only lost about 3 miles in total. It could have been much worse and the prospect of finishing the race without Bobs navigation computer and no nav lights or instruments did not bear consideration.
Anyway, back on track and disaster averted. We are now hammering along at 110% of polars in 24 kts of breeze and a reef in the main, No.3 and 50 miles to run to our clearing waypoint west of Guadeloupe so we can come in hard on the breeze to Les Saintes.
There are no other boats in sight now, but we did see Leopard rounding Redonda as we passed to the West at around 5am. Sadly for them they have not managed to beat the record, but even though we saw them go off at 12.4kts upwind, we still have a chance to beat them on corrected time. We have not checked any other positions since the last blog, but can go no faster than we are, so we have to hope our tactics on dealing with the Guadeloupe wind shadow pay off.
Seatrack is telling us another 34 hours to run, so with luck we shall be in before dark on Thursday which would be amazing. Hang on Selene, Guadeloupe here we come.