Friday, March 13, 2009

It's Friday the 13th and conditions are tough onboard Ericsson 4

[Source: Guy Salter, Ericsson Racing Team] Friday the 13th!!!!! Have not had much wind all day - is this due to the high or something supernatural?? The high of course, and the sunny and clear conditions brought a wave of smiles with it.

It's amazing how the daylight hours have changed over the last week or so as we have headed east - it's hard to keep up with sunrise each day - especially from my dark dank cave in the back of the yacht.

Everything now feels wet or damp as the moisture in all clothes and the air just feels cold. The condensation inside the yacht is everywhere and as you brush past any item you get a soaking arm or leg. Seeing your breath is the norm - but you get used to it knowing that it's just a question of time now till we are warm and dry and clean and free once more.

Sail change onboard Ericsson 3. South Pacific Ocean. Video copyright Ericsson Racing team

Although not as far south its as cold as I remember in the 2001 race, in those days weight was everything and we were given a list of clothing we were allowed to take - maybe with an extra thermal top sneaked onboard. On board the 70s it's a lot wetter so there is no real clothing amount rules - as long as it fits within your bag and is stacked its ok - but this does often result in the odd discarded sock being found lying around. The only way to dry your gear is to wear it as we are on fuel rations - so no heater.

The 2001 race was also littered with icebergs, some of the lads want to see some to tick the box, but none who did the 2001 edition want a repeat of that, but its been a hot topic after the Dragons sightings earlier this week. They are beautiful but obviously very dangerous and I wouldn't fancy having to avoid a big one as they are very often the big, size of the Isle of Wight big, not just a few hundred metres- you could find yourself having to beat round one to get to the windward "safer' side, and we have had enough upwind work!

Related audioPUMA skipper Ken Read gets unemotional about rounding Cape Horn
We kind of resemble a collection of tramps in our various versions of the same clothing - Tony for example has cut the peak off his "Elma Fudd" style duck hunters hat and looks a little like Baldrick, Blackadder's faithful side kick!

Most are sporting more facial hair than ever before - or at least more than they will own up to. I often expect to see a few of the lads huddled round a big oil drum on the back of the yacht, complete with fire, warming their hands - straight out of a NY street set. All we are missing are the cardboard boxes and the shopping trolley with 3 wheels.

The food just seems to vanish - even the boats most unpleasant snack - a beef jerky style food type, which I swear is a mammal but definitely not beef. Ryan is sure it's 'large rodent' jerky and I think he has a very good point.

Jules can be seen at the navstation with a silver survival blanket over his lap, it's the type which you see draped over marathon runners at the finish that looks like a big sheet of baking foil. Jules commented that he is so impressed with its reflective heat properties that he fancies having a suit made from it - or at least that was until I pointed out that he would then look like Sir Jimmy Saville - to which he gave the compulsory "now then, now then" in Jimmy's style and had to agree that he has had better ideas.

Time just passes now and how easy a long haul flight would be as our minds are used to the moments of slow time. In fact a 24hr flight would be a doddle even without any form of entertainment. I'm sure the reality of time and urgency will return as we get closer to the finish and the will to get off the boat becomes close to unbearable.

We are now awaiting a bit of breeze from a low pressure headed our way
- it means some true heinous southern ocean conditions - but it also means that we should eat up the 1700nm to the Horn a lot quicker.

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