Storms, breakages, flotsam, now ships

Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) had a close encounter with a cargo ship last night which he admits was a little too close for comfort as he sailed in busy shipping traffic off Cape Finisterre.

The British skipper emerged unscathed and is making fair speed across the Bay of Biscay now, trying to hike north in the contrary, Easterly winds as he makes for the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne where he is now expected Thursday.

White is expected to stay on the same tack now up to about the latitude of Lorient, where the breeze is likely to bend to a more favourable northerly direction, but the weather files also suggest it will be lighter, so nothing about his final approach seems to be falling in his favour. Once again he voiced his frustration today, saying that every time he tacked the wind had changed to be more against him.

“It’s like pulling teeth. I just want to get in.” White said today.

His VMG remains consistent at around 6-8 knots, although he said today that with 30 knot winds off Finisterre the seas were as big and awkward as he could remember, only the second time he could recall not being able to stand up on the foredeck of his Open 60, and having to work on his hands and knees.

At 1430hrs this afternoon White had a direct distance of 267 miles to Les Sables, which in reality is closer to 330 miles with winds still mainly Easterly to 25 knots.

Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water): ” I had a bit of a long night with a lot of ships around Finisterre, I had to call several of them to get them to alter course for me. So I am quite tired and nearly got run down as well. I came as close as I ever have in my entire life to getting run down. It was the closest I have ever been to a ship which was not at anchor I think. An under arm throw with a tennis ball and I could have put it on its deck.

“I called him up and he obviously had not seen me and it took him five minutes to respond, and then when he did respond I said ‘what are you going to do?’ and he cam back and said he was going to turn to starboard and come down your starboard side. I thought that was rather odd, cos if he had turned to port he would have gone under our stern which would have been a much better thing to have done, he did an alteration to starboard which was big but it was not big enough, and I got headed and it finished up with us bow to bow and an angle of about 90 degrees and I baled out. I dumped the traveller all the way down because there was about 30 knots of breeze because the boat would not bear away, and as I crouched down to see I could see he had turned as well I had no idea that a ship that size, 160 metres, could turn so quickly and the bow was blown around and I saw his nav lights change underneath the boom, then I pushed the buttons on the pilot to come back up again, we both turned into each other effectively. Anyway I missed him he came under my stern and I called him up and said: ‘that was rather close wasn’t’ it?’ and he went absolutely berserk, and I thought which bit of the rules of the road have I not understood whereby you are supposed to get out of the way and I call you and ask what you are going to do, you tell me and you still end up hitting me. But I am going to report him/ You can’t let people get way with that.

“All the others I called there was no problems, decent alterations and kept clear. They will insist on crossing in front of your bow and then of course if you get headed ten degrees, then it looks like you are on another collision course. Most of them had enough sense to make a big enough alteration t get out of the way, but I was pretty uncomfortable for a while. I must admit. On a 12 mile range I reckon I had nearly 20 ships at one point.

“Now it is empty. I am blissfully alone. I have two ships at 12 miles I am going in towards Biscay and then up towards Ushant. Meantime I’m just going to get me head down and dry my feet out in my sleeping bag.”

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