The race to Stargate

Sunday 22 September 2013
CATEGORY: Expedition
TAGS: Sailing

Remember Stargate – That portal to another planet? – currently we are on
our way to our very own one, a wormhole identified by our chief navigator
“Professor Spectra” Paolo. Its a unique weather situation, that could
boost us very quickly through the Doldrums. If it works out its our best
chance to reach a top 3 spot in this race (or maybe even win?)… right now
the computer simulations are running with the latest weather data.
Meanwhile our boat is more and more like a tiny sauna boat in the middle of
an ocean. Today the temperature in my bunk hit 42 dregee!!! In one of my
previous posts I was describing the problems we have with our watermaker –
at the moment only half of its output reaches the watertanks. Our engineers
have worked for days to get a grip on the problem, but it seems it can only
be fixed in Rio. In order to preserve fresh water, the skipper has called a
moratorium on freshwater consumption other than for drinking. Showering,
Washing dishes and cooking is to be done in saltwater (or babywipes)
only… and the sweating continues πŸ™‚
The heat, together with the more and more setting in of sleep deprivation
and the exhausting deckwork of helming, sail changes etc has started to
affect the nerves of the one or other crew members. The last few days have
seen the flare up of more heated exchanges – although still all under
control πŸ˜‰
Thank god not all humor is lost – last night I earned the title Donut of
the day, when my fellow
crew members sent me to the Nav station to turn on the moonlight switch.
Believing that its the label for the compass light (there are tons of
strange lable for things on a boat) I went down below, desperately
searching for the appropriate switch…. imagine the laughter of the
skipper when I asked her where I can turn on the moonlight!!
The last few days have seen the boat come more and more under attack of
flying fish – these weird looking creatures (around 15cm long) like to hit
our boat, particularly at night time. Yesterday I got hit by one in the
back – I had to change my T-shirt, as they stink so much! In particulr,
they seem to like our redlighted helming compass – its a flying fish
Otherwise we have seen tons of dolphins, have been overtaken by a massive
swarm of tuna (it was too late to put out the fishing rod – I was already
fantasizing of Tuna Sashimi πŸ™‚ and even spotted a few whales (pilotwhales
to be exact), who were accompaning us along. Its also surprising to see how
many birds live in the middle of an ocean. Its not just a race, but also a
wildlife tour!
As the race towards the doldrums heats up it seems that our refreshed focus
on racing is bearing fruit We currently find ourselves in eighth place. How
serious the race is being taken, shows yesterdays morning watch – in less
than 3 hours we undertook 14(!) headsail changes, which is apparently a
record for a Clipper crew. Half the time we were soaked in massive tropical
rain due to a squall, which provided a much needed topup of our water tanks
and also gave the rare possibility for a freshwater shower. Yesterday saw
also our first tack of the race (turn into the wind- on day 13!) , and we
also spotted the first competitor boat since leaving Brest– mid morning
Team Garmin popped up on the horizon. The were flying a more aggressive
sail plan, which is why we currently find ourselves four miles behind in
the schedule (as you can see in the picture even the cannon on our hatch,
could not stop them). However having ourselves overtaken PSP, Jamaica and
Qingdao we still continue our hunt on the rest of the fleet, which is now
more packed together than ever (at least from my perspective). You probably
have a better overview on the race as I do (check the clipper website for
race viewer) – as we only get a small email with the current standings
every six hours .
Currently we are heading directly towards “Stargate”,
Lets hope our engineers have the warp core ready to boost us in record time
to Rio!

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