Vendee skipper finds girl time in Southern Ocean

Non-stop, solo, round-the-world Vendee Globe race skipper Sam Davies has found time after trimming her sheets to trim her nails…with a multi-tool!

“Hello everyone from a rough and windy Southern Ocean! The last 24 hours have been really busy.I eventually managed to get a good trim for my Code 0 and managed a few extra miles thanks to that sail, until the wind increased too much. The change to Solent and dropping of the gennaker was really full on – to be on the bow of Roxy as we surfed the big swell at 20 knots was quite impressive. I seemed to be either 6m in the air (as we took off) or under water (as we landed!). It was good exercise, but there is no room for the smallest of errors out here.

It seems that Roxy likes it windy. With that extra few knots we managed to more or less match the speed of Brian and Bernard, who are in newer boats just ahead of me, so we were both happy!

However, Roxy was craving attention yesterday, and in the evening she decided to give me some technical challenges. The first was one of my alternators failing to start up. I have two, plus other ways of charging, but down here with the pilot on high gain settings (to cope with the waves), we are using quite a lot of electricity and working alternators are imperative. Luckily, after chasing cables I found the loose connection and the repair was an easy one.

Obviously, Roxy was not happy that I had fixed her so efficiently, so problem number 2 quickly arrived. I had just changed down to staysail as there was 35-40 knots of wind, and when I went to cant the keel back up…nothing happened! Again, I have a back-up manual pump on my keel system, but it takes all day pumping to move the keel just a tiny way (or so it seems), so that is not really an option.

So, in the dark, with my head-torch, volt-meter and tools, I found myself head first in the batteries and keel hydraulics as Roxy hurtled down the huge waves at break-neck speeds! I would have much preferred to be in bed, but in this race, a problem must be fixed immediately to ensure it does not get worse.

Luckily, again, I singled out a faulty solenoid and managed to re-cable the system to bypass the defective part. I was rewarded by the sweet whining of the hydraulics as my keel put itself back to max cant to Port!

After all that, I managed to get into my sleeping bag for a few hours. I was interrupted twice by small wipe-outs down rather big waves, where I had to dash out and help the pilot get Roxy back in the right direction.

Upon waking, I was happy to discover that the weather front was passing over us. The sky is blue, the sun is out and there are still 35 knots of wind, although I have changed back to Solent and Roxy is happy! The scenery out here is amazing, and a sunny sky over an angry sea is a beautiful sight; I try to take photos, but it is never as intense as in real life.

Today’s photo is just to show you that, even with everything I have described going on, there is still girl-time on board Roxy. Yesterday I managed to give myself a manicure (needless to say, this lifestyle is not good for beautiful nails), albeit with my penknife!

Have a good Friday!

S x”

Vendee Globe