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Solo sailor goes for non-stop record

Dec 1, 2015
Joe Harris waves as he departs Newport on his solo record effort

Joe Harris waves as he departs Newport on his solo record effort

Fifteen days ago solo sailor Joe Harris passed Castle Hill at Newport, R.I. onboard his Akilaria RC2 Class 40 sailboat Gryphon Solo 2 intent on breaking Guo Chaun's 2013 single handed non-stop around the world record of 137 days. Harris is currently rounding the shoulder of Brazil, approaching the equator (see tracking chart below), with the Cape of Good Hope as his first turning mark.

Since gear failure is can be a problem with hard-driving, long range record attempts like this one, before departing on his record attempt, Harris had Maine Yacht Center in Portland perform a 12-month refit and upgrade project on Gryphon Solo 2.

The refit included:
• Keel removal, inspection and recasting. 
• Removal, inspection and service of twin rudders, rudder bearings and steering system. 
• Race bottom job and mast paint. 
• Build and fit additional hand rails and foot rails for better security when working on deck. 
• Modifications to deck hardware. 
• Install additional fuel and water tanks. 
• Installation of solar panels and a transom hung, dual hydro generator set up. 
• Installation of new batteries, alternators and energy monitoring system. 
• Installation of water makers. 
• Replacement of standing rigging: lateral rod rigging, fore & aft textile rigging and new PBO anti-torsion furling cable for headstay. 
• Replacement of running rigging and new lashings. 
• Upgrades to B&G sailing instrumentation and auto pilots. Installation of two gyro compasses for Southern Ocean. 
• Installation of onboard computer system and network with back-up computer. 
• Installation and set-up of multiple satellite communication systems. 
• Installation and set-up of computer based navigation system with world charts and integrated sailing performance polar data and weather routing. 

Here's to Harris and his boat standing up to the trial and coming home with the record. Follow his voyage here. 

Below is Harris' latest update.

Hello Sports Fans-

I'm coming to you live from the "Bulge of Brazil"- getting very close to the Equator! We (me and the boat) are roughly 430 miles away, so at a 10 knot average that would get me there in 43 hours, which would be the wee hours of Thursday morning. Crewed boats typically make a party of the Equator Crossing, with someone dressing up as King Neptune and crew members making offerings to placate the gods.

I am thinking of a Jameson and coffee with a fine cigar- a "Gryphon"- courtesy of my good bud Jeff Hacker. So, as you can tell, I am looking forward to that- and will send a photo commemorating the moment that the GPS shows 0.00 degrees for latitude.

So life at sea here in the tropics goes on- 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. It is very warm and very windy- usually blowing about 20 knots- and the sea conditions are rough- so the boat gets very wet. It is almost comical, every time I go on deck, I am greeted by a large wall of water in the face. I feel like the clown in the circus when they do that comedy routine and some unsuspecting clown gets splattered with a bucket of water- that would be me. Usually I have just put on a clean shirt and shorts and I naively go on deck just for a little fresh air- and Wham- I get nailed with a wave in the face and get completely soaked. 

So now I have shorts and t-shirts hanging everywhere in the cabin, which really don't dry in these rain-forest like conditions- and I find foul-weather gear just way too hot in this climate- so mostly I am naked (and afraid?) and nobody seems to mind. I am just covered in salt water and am really trying to avoid salt water sores, particularly on my butt, which is a common affliction for sailors. So, I will leave it there- looking for the next downpour of rain so I can run on deck and have a fresh water shower!

The boat is holding up well- I have had two reefs in the main and the Solent jib up for quite a while and the boat likes the combo of power from the jib without too much weather helm from the main. The auto-pilot steers 99% of the time and the hydro-generator puts out between 12 and 20 amps of power which is enough to run the AP's and electronics and keep the batteries topped up at over 13 volts. So I have not really had to focus on energy conservation much at all- and can use the computer and sat comms fairly freely- which is nice. If we slow down, this may change, and I am hoping the solar panels will then kick in, but they have not been major energy contributor so far. I have only run the diesel engine once so far, just to make sure it still worked. 

So that’s my pre-Equator story- looking forward to visiting the southern hemisphere for only the second time under sail- the 2005 Transat Jacque Vabre from France to Salvadore, Brazil being the other time.

Stay thirsty my friends-
Joe

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