I departed from the anchorage at 10:30 on July 24th, after a 31.5-hour-long stop, and joined the race—eager to catch up with the GGR ﬂeet as I had not gotten any outside assistance.
There is no pleasure without a tincture of bitterness; Don degraded Pufﬁn into Chichester class with no acceptable reason. I had stopped in a naturally sheltered anchorage; I had not used any outside assistance during my repair. And I had communicated via the race management on the designated channels, according to NOR.
I called Don’s phone on the instructions of the race director on duty (since he was not available on the GGR “red line, which any entrant could call at any time).
Due to the handicap caused by the wind vane, I ended up in the trailing end of the ﬂeet. Which in itself was very frustrating, and now this came— the last drop in the overﬂowing cup—the unjustiﬁed race director’s procedure.
The light winds did not help Pufﬁn’s progress either, although I did my best to get out of the wind shadow of the high volcanic islands as soon as possible.
July 26 brought several surprises: the ﬁrst was the good news that Pufﬁn returned to the GGR ﬁeld after clarifying the circumstances. However, I received a 24-hour penalty time for reasons unknown to me. As another surprise, I came across a Brazilian deep-sea drilling rig stationed quite far from the islands. Luckily during daylight hours.
The last days of July, mostly with light breeze, and the never-ending ﬁelds of sea grass made for a depressing trudge, while on the last day of the month, the mainsail halyard that snapped in a 35-knot thunderstorm and the unruly wheel adaptor again forced Pufﬁn to “heave to” for repairs.
The second month of the competition, August, brought more consistent trade winds and a huge improvement in our radio connection. Tibi Németh and the Hungarian radio amateurs mobilized by him not only transmitted the exact time needed to calibrate my chronometer but also István Méder’s weather reports to Pufﬁn. As an excellent radio amateur, Tibi reached almost every day. Although he did not know much about sailing, the regular radio contact made it much easier to bear the loneliness.
On August 4, I noticed the ﬁrst barnacles on the bottom of the boat, an area above the Seahawk antifouling paint, near the stern. I spent almost an entire day sorting and loading the heavier stuff in the bow to get Pufﬁn’s ideal trim.
On August 6, we crossed the equator. Pufﬁn for the ﬁrst time, and myself for the 14th time. I was able to shoot the sun and moon, my favorite heavenly body, simultaneously conﬁrming our crossing on the Zero Latitude.