29 Jul OD Gets Hands On a Volvo Boat
A few weeks ago my boss, Dawn Riley, called me when I was in Newport telling me I’m flying to Sweden to deliver Alvimedica to Spain. For me it was slightly stressful as the guys and I have been going at it full tilt getting the Ker 50 Temptation/Oakcliff, regatta ready. After a few all-nighters I was lucky to have my teammates take over so I could indulge in this awesome opportunity.
My mind was racing. First, I never thought I would be able to sail on one of the new Volvo 65’s. Second, I’m not the biggest fan of deliveries (as a few of you might know). Luckily this delivery was only as long as a trans-Atlantic. About 2,400 miles.
After a night of laundry and packing I jumped the bus to Boston and a plane to Gothenburg. Nick Dana, the boat captain, was on site making final preparations so we could leave for Alicante.
Quick overview: The crew was made up of friends and mostly Volvo race competitors and shore crew. We were to leave Gothenburg, head North around the tip of Denmark, continue south toward the English Channel, make an emergency fuel pit stop in El Caruna for another 500 liters of fuel (YES we needed it) and continue south toward Gibraltar. Finally, entering the Med we had some Champagne Sailing.
After leaving the dock I couldn’t help but think this boat reminded me of a Class 40. The intricacies and overall set up was fairly similar, except way overbuilt. The boats were designed by Farr yacht design, cut and built by Green Marine, Persico, Multiplast, and Decision.
Unlike the Volvo 70’s these Farr boats are quite overbuilt and don’t have to be babied, are constantly pushed to breaking points; a pure work-horse. The crew said they had no idea what the boat limits were, so they kept pushing seeing if they could find a breaking point…. They found it during the around Britain race.
Back to the epic delivery. Leaving Sweden and heading to Biscay the breeze did something very curious to us. It stayed directly on the nose at 25+kts. For at least the first six days. When we would be rounding a country…. The breeze would do the same, never leaving about 20 degrees off the bow.
This wood chopping is nothing new to the Volvo boats, the flat bottom allows no forgiveness for comfort. When off watch I discovered I needed to line the wall, and ceiling of my windward bunk as my body was finding all the hard spots on the boat.
Other than trying to sleep off watch I was selected to be the maker of the food. Nick spent the last Volvo as an OBR, which includes an intricate knowledge of freeze dried, and I really tried to do a shitty job well but I could never compete with his meal making ability. I guess practice makes perfect.
We had three separate watches, and each watch captain spent a considerable amount of time in the nav station for good reason. We were battling a very persistent and oddly consistent headwind, 0%moon, tidal fluctuations, and a language barrier with thousands of ships we tried to avoid.
After five or so days of what sounded like a boat bow chopping wood we needed to refuel. We didn’t want to be caught in the Med with low fuel or especially in a TSS with low fuel. El Caruna was the spot and it took less than an hour.
After El Caruna we continued going upwind. The tacking angles of this boat is fairly wide, not as wide as a class 40 but wide enough to keep a special place in our hearts for our beloved displacement boats. On day seven through eight we had a nice westerly allowing us to reach down the coast of Portugal. How refreshing it is to get to sail!! There were a lot of potholes and some drivers let the boat slam. Regardless, we were all very happy to get a sail in.
Getting through Gibralter was seamless. Starting to head north felt nice after our tacking battle.
Some things I learned:
Some things I learned:
Race boats are not all the same; yet sometimes have similar problems:
– These Farr boats and how they are taken care of is nothing but beyond top professional. But like any boat, you can point to a little thing and ask what’s it’s for and the response is usually a quality control or that’s for safety. Not one corner was cut or corner overlooked. Literally.
Give it ten minutes and we’ll see what the breeze does:
-Never again will I say this. Change your sail promptly and efficiently. There wasn’t one watch day and night we didn’t consider/perform a peel. And bare headed? Glad the Volvo guys think like I do.
Stack. Never ever ever complain, just stack and trim. Just keep stacking. It takes the guys 3:20 to fully stack the boat:
It was very nice sailing that boat. Within the first two days I was able to drive Alvimedica for more hours than I’ve sailed Temptation in the past four years. The crew on the boat were so so welcoming and everyone bought into the same plan.