The Expandables

Friday 20 September 2013
CATEGORY: Expedition
TAGS: Sailing

These lines might actually arrive a few days late, as our satellite
connection is down once again – no emails, msgs or weather update πŸ™
Its back to the world of 45degrees – in order to sail a course closer to
the wind, we put back down our spinnaker last night to hoist the yankee 1 –
as the boat keels over again, its an end to the champagne downwind sailing
and the beginning of our race to the doldrums.
Last night featured also an overdue clearing discussion with our skipper,
where some of the crew voiced there discontent on the progress of the race
and the overall strategy. Vicky affirmed her cautious approach – rather
preserving kit for the long around the world ocean race, than going for
quick win at maybe too high cost. She also shared with us that she was
surprised by the breakneck approach chosen by some of the other boats.
However she confirmed us that from now on we would work our outmost to work
on performance optimisation – the crews share would be to put an
extraordinary focus on sail trim – “trim, trim, trim” is the new main
slogan on the boat. Let’s hope the results are soon to follow as we still
trail Jamaica and PSP by a large margin.. but then again, its still a long
race to Rio with the Doldrums yet to pass.
The team also agreed on a more specialised approach on deck, ie instead of
rotating jobs, we would now have more fixed role for a certain evolution (a
sail change or reefing). My job role is at the bow. Together with Antonio,
an Italian living in Dubai, we form the bow team, or in Antonio’s words:
“The Expandables – the guys who have to bite the bullet first πŸ˜‰ (see
Work on the bow is the most physically strenuous and also the most exposed
on the boat, as we are rocking over the Atlantic swells. We are getting
showered regularly, as waves are breaking over the foredeck. In racing
headsail changes we need to get the new sails out of the rope locker and
hanked onto the forestay, running all the sheets (ropes) around the
foredeck and hoisting the sails up – thats all usually under time pressure.
The advantage of working on this position is also that the foredeck is
probably the most “lonely” place on the boat. Its the place where I can
feel best the exposure of the Atlantic, which seem to extend to infinity
all around us. Sharing our small racing yacht with more than twenty people
means that you are never alone – I have to admit a very, very new
experience for me. On all my trips into the mountains there was always the
time and lots of place to have alone time – you could walk away from camp,
stare into the stars, let your thoughts fly, enjoy calmness, peace and
Not so on a our boat in the middle in the ocean – there is always something
going on, somebody around, people chatting, work to do – its very hard to
find that place of peace. Its sometimes even hard to imagine that a total
inhospitable environment starts just a few metres off the boat. The
foredeck is the places where I can feel the most the raw exposure of the
environment all around us.

Otherwise a few other break-downs of equipment provide us with more than
the usual amount of entertainment. The latest is a leak in our water maker.
As one can imagine, drinking water is a precious commodity in the middle of
an ocean, and the two water tanks are holding only drinking water for a few
days. Hence our yacht is equipped with a water maker than can convert salt
water into drinking water. It has been running a lot the last few days,
also to keep up with the increased water consumption in the hot water. Bad
luck, that it also has a leak, which means that we are regularly filling
not only our water bottles but also our bilges with best quality water.
Needless to say that the bilges are not the best place to store drinking
water, so it has to be pumped out and thrown over board every four to six
hours – so much for precious commodity.
As I write this lines I am still waiting for lunch – today my bow partner
Antiono is doing pasta. Ten minutes late, less than you would expect from
an Italian cook πŸ™‚ But I shouldnt complain – having four Italians on board,
means that we regularly get really good food. They have even introduced an
afternoon Espresso time πŸ™‚
Its time to go back on watch – lets trim to sail to catch up with our

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