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Pixel Flyer completes 5,000 miles

On Saturday Gosport’s Alex Alley passed the 5000 mile mark AND got Pixel flying at 17.6 knots – not bad for a 40′ monohull. That’s a big chunk of mileage out of the expected c.27,000 mile route.

Meanwhile, there have been various conversations about his progress v the current record set by Chinese sailor Guo Chuan in 2012-13. Guo’s route was much shorter but he spent much of that in very light winds, so couldn’t make the most of being able to get south into much faster sailing conditions. He had to make his way in and out of Xindao where he started from which meant sailing up through Indonesia where there is not much wind, certainly no trade winds, and when he started he would have had to sail SE across the Pacific to Cape Horn, again no trade winds to help him. Even between the Horn and South Africa, because he had to head north to a waypoint off BA that effectively stopped him again making use of the Southern Ocean to Cape Town.

The RTW route, taken by direct measurement and going around at 60 South (as per the WSSRC rules) is 21,600 miles. Alex’s current record route is based on the Jules Verne record which Spindrift 2 is doing http://www.spindrift-racing.com/jules-verne/en/live. The reason Alex is sailing so much further (approx. 27,000) is that the WSSRC shortest distance is down the other side of the Atlantic by Africa, which is shorter distance but much much longer in time. Also he will be lapping at around 40 South and not 60 so that adds more mileage, but again it is all very fast sailing. Providing he can keep everything together it is all so far looking good.

Current Forecast (27/1)
Forecast for the next 3 days is looking very slow, Alex needs to get south, through a ridge of high pressure.
Highs are centred at 32 S 15 W (1032 mb) and 43 S 48 W (1022 mb).
28 0000 Z 4 – 6 knots E
28 0600 Z 4 – 6 knots ENE
28 1200 Z Calm
28 1800 Z Calm
With such light winds the direction is likely to be quite variable, so he needs to keep trying to generally go S.
Slow going, but there is a trough developing to the W (27 S 58 W, 33 S 55 W, 37 S 52 W), which will eventually bring NW breeze.

25 January Update from Alex
It’s too hot on deck at the moment to do much outside so I am sitting below decks with the hatches open forcing some breeze through and trying to dry off (from the sweat!). it’s much cooler down here. however before it got too hot i managed the sail change, serviced the winch that was making a grinding noise and put some sikaflex around the base of a couple of stanchions at the back of the cockpit. i have been getting water in the aft compartment (i took out 1.5 buckets two days ago and another 1/3 bucket yesterday). i had a really good look for where it may be coming in and the only place i can see really is the stanchion base in the cockpit floor at the back. the water floods over this when i am sailing fast so suspect there is the problem, so while all is dry on deck i put a load of sike around the base so hopefully that cures that little issue. [This has now been done and the leak has stopped].
I have also got the two ‘doors’ open to the back to try and get some air in there and dry it out, it is like a steam room down there, very hot and humid with water dripping from the ceiling as you crawl around. I want to get it as dry as possible because there are obviously some electrics in there that i want to keep dry, not least of which are the autopilots.
On that note i have switched over to the hydraulic one this morning to give the other a break for a day or so. i will keep switching every few days to keep them both working and not wear one out. Lots of reading and drinking here, just going to make another 2L bottle of drink.

27 January update – Life Onboard
was a little cooler last night as i tried sleeping outside under the cuddy in the cockpit to get some cooling air. it sort of worked but then the wind got up and water started to pour across the cockpit so had to go back downstairs again – was nice while it lasted though. yes it is very hot and sweaty down here. once the wind eases right off in a day or so then i will put my bed outside in the sun to give it a bit of a airing.
i don’t have a routine as such. Pixie is such a good girl in the trade winds that she pretty much sails herself. typically i get an alarm at 0600 GMT to do the report for Nick Leggatt [weather router] , fill in the log and check everything is ok outside. then try and get back to sleep. i am tending to get much of my sleep during the night, probably because it is slightly cooler although still don’t think i have managed any more than a 3 hour stint. i have breakfast and a cup of tea at 0900 local then i tend to drive for an hour or two. constantly checking over things and listening out for strange noises. then i usually go below to cool off, read and make water/drink, download weather and ponder over that along with Nick’s emails. try and sleep but usually not for long as hot. i am only eating two meals a day (breakfast plus one other) instead of three i packed so plenty of surplus food. doing emails periodically, reading and any bigger jobs (repair/remedial) get done during the day when it’s light unless they are urgent. Second meal usually late afternoon (after my 1630z check in alarm). then helm again for a bit, make more water/electric as required. During all this the wind is up and down so changing/adjusting sails as required. in the squalls it is usually ease traveller then bear away, ease the main and then if it continues to build put in a reef. once passed, reverse everything again – these come through anytime day and night and i get woken either by the wind alarm (or radar alarm picking up the rain) or just feeling the boat heel over more than usual.sometimes i take the helm during the squall if it a particularly big one. so no set pattern to the day as such, no watch system like on Team Stelmar [Global Challenge].
Its currently 0700 here and 30 degrees. i have just put the hydrogenerator down to make some electric. i will probably try and grab another hour kip before making tea and breakfast. i have definitely lost weight on my legs and a little elsewhere but not that much real activity going on, guess the real weight loss will come when it gets colder. Hope that gives you a bit of an insight in to my day.