Diary of a Clipper Racer

Around the world in 333 days with Mark Osgood

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Final Diary entry, 54, added Monday 6th October 2003.

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48 - Race 14 - Salvador to New York  - July/August 2003

The start of the final leg and the final homeward burst - if 7,500 miles can be called a burst.  We have our final set of leggers, we are en route to our final international port and the finish line is at last becoming a reality.

The race from Salvador to New York is the longest in terms of distance and one of the longest in terms of duration.  It takes us from Salvador on the north-east coast of Brazil, round the most eastern point of South America, past the end of the Amazon River and then up past the Caribbean.  This first section saw us pick up the Guiana current, which follows the South American coastline before heading up into the Caribbean, and has given us up to two knots of current in our favour.

As we cross the equator, our main concern will be the oncoming ITCZ, which we shall cross for the fourth and final time. Better known as the Doldrums, this is an area with no wind and swirling currents, where daily runs will drop from the hundreds to the tens.

Once through the Doldrums (which could take hours if lucky, and days if no), we shall be off again towards the US coast near Miami so as to pick up the Gulf Stream -another favourable current that will be with us all the way back to the UK.  First, though, it will carry us to New York, through the “horse latitudes” (so called by the mariners who were forced to eat their horses whilst stuck in the wind-holes which are characteristic of this part of the ocean).  Our final 500 miles will be a reach up the coast to New York where we shall experience a wide range of weather systems.

It’s going to be a race of mixed fortunes.  At the moment, with the Guiana Current in our favour, we are happily knocking off 200 miles a day from the distance to go.  But that will change once we hit the Doldrums and the horse latitudes, when daily runs will decrease dramatically.  In the final push, we should return to high daily runs as we approach New York.  It should make for an interesting race.

As I write, we are about to cross the equator for the final time.  We also have the crossing of our line on the way out, or the "tying off the knot" to look forward to after the Doldrums.  But the best bit will be the fact that we’ll be on our way home and the completion off the adventure will almost be in sight. 

Click here for diary 49 - Race 14 - Under engine - August 2003

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