| THE VOYAGE OF "FAZISI"
From Chicago to Florida - September, October 2001 - Part 1
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The delivery trip of "Fazisi" from Chicago to Florida did not start with good omens. Immediately after leaving Chicago on September 8th, the crew got caught in gale force winds and rough, choppy seas. The genny was torn while being taken down by the four man crew. Then they ran aground in the Detroit River. Then came the tragic events of September 11th. The border to Canada was immediately closed. It was not until September 14th. that they were permitted to enter the Welland Canal and proceed to Toronto.
In spite of these initial setbacks, we were extremely fortunate. We were afraid of bad weather in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the approach to Halifax. Instead we had light winds and needed to motor all the way from Toronto to Halifax. We had only a couple of days of cold weather. The rest of the time it was unseasonably warm.
There is considerable danger of hurricanes in the western Atlantic during September and October. We followed the progress of three of them on our plotting chart. "Humberto" veered off well to the east of Halifax while we were still near Montreal. "Iris" stayed far to the south in the Caribbean. "Jerry" never progressed beyond a tropical storm and died out well to the south of the Virgin Islands.
Another concern are low pressure cells marching eastward from the mainland over the Gulf Stream and the waters around Cape Hatteras which frequently cause violent gales and mountainous seas. We stayed well to the east of the notorious Cape and crossed the Gulf Stream in a calm window between two such gales. The unexpected north-easterly gale that did catch us in the Georges Bank area, east of Cape Cod, was relatively benign and except for a few gusts did not exceed 40 knots. As the wind and waves were from behind, they were not a problem.
The cold front that overtook us when we were well south of the Gulf Stream was actually a great help. The strong 30 knot north-westerly, that gradually veered to the north-east, propelled us toward our destination at surprising speed. With only a small jib up we were averaging 9 - 10 knots. The record speed attained was 18 knots surfing off a big wave! Our best 24-hour distance traveled was 200 NM.
The failure of the goose-neck pin (which attaches the boom to the mast) was the only serious equipment problem. It forced us to divert to Fairview, across the river from New Bedford, for repairs and delayed us three days. Other equipment problems were more of an annoyance than a hazard. These included the failure of the gear shifter. When needed, the transmission had to be forced into gear at the engine itself. The improper grounding of the brand new SSB radio resulted in not being able to enjoy the assistance of printed weather reports and the luxury of sending and receiving email. Weather forecasts were still obtained although with some difficulty because of noisy and weak reception. The three GPS systems and the engine functioned flawlessly.
The Maxi Racer "Fazisi" was built in a shipyard of the Soviet Union, on the Black Sea, in 1989. It was specially built of aluminum to take part in the 1990 Whitbread Round the World Race. It is 25.5m (83ft) long, 6m. (19ft) wide with a mast that is 31m.(100ft) tall!
The skipper, Vlad Murnikov, brought the boat to the U.S.A. after the Whitbread Race. It is
currently owned by a syndicate of Poles in Chicago. In 2001 it participated in the Mackinac Race from Chicago to Mackinac Island. It now races out of St. Petersburg, Florida
I wonder how the Russians were able to survive for nine months in the Whitbread Race bent over all the time in the low head-room below decks?