We finally did start after days of waiting on the Caribbean side of Panama. Race start was at twilight. We did a Le Mans start. That means that all the boats lined up at an agreed-upon location and order. The sails were down and ready, and all of the crew members behind the grinder, mid-ship. At the appointed time (we had a countdown via radio), all the crews scurried to their locations and started hoisting, grinding, trimming…it was an absolute blast. We received the west-most location, it offered a lovely view of all the boats lining up. So we finally started. We’ve had quite a bit of wind on our way to New York City. We are living at an angle! If you picture the deck of the boat turned so far to the port (left) side that the wooden edge is barely touching the water…that would be it. Then picture how difficult it is to move around below deck, not being able to anticipate boat movements and waves. Confession: I’ve been seasick, again. Ugh. But I’m on the mend! We have Gold Coast off our starboard side, they are 1 mile behind us. We’re about 100 miles until Jamaica, then shortly thereafter, the scoring gate between Haiti and Cuba. We’re aiming to get there first. I better go take a breather up on deck…waves and living at an angle mean no open hatches, which means life below is again a sauna.
Today, the wind has seemed to stop. Clipper has turned into an inch-a-thon. The water state is quite calm, with very little movement. At least we can see that we’re not alone, and it helps to feel like we’re still racing when we can see the competition just a couple miles away…even if we’re not exactly speeding along.
No wind up top means no air circulation down below. The heat is quite stifling and it is hard to think. I lie in my bunk and just sweat. And this is just the beginning! On deck we have to take turns with the various tasks as they are rarely in the shade and some of us are more prone to burn than to tan…
It is quite difficult to function in the heat. It makes the tasks all the more difficult.
We are learning to cope with things that are outside of our control and make the best of the situation. Thankfully, attitudes of the crew are still positive. I know that can be difficult in extreme situations (and heat), and it makes me very thankful for the people we have on board.
PS: I did get to see a whale! …or at least a tail and a spout. Success.
No birds onboard
So I don’t think I am ever going to get tired of looking at the night sky. There are so many stars spattering the sky. It is magnificent. One of the other crew members has an app that shows you the constellations in the sky. The things you can learn! There was a “star” just on the horizon line that turned out to be Visit Finland.
We get giddy as school children when we see a shooting star, or dolphins, or other wildlife. But not birds. The crew have a hatred for birds for some reason. There was one today that had a particularly pointy beak. I could imagine it poking its little beady head through our spinnaker sail and then ruining our race. But…thankfully he just circled us and flew away.
So tonight my watch was on duty just as the sun was setting. We were all sitting there doing our thing when BAM!!! Some fish just up and jumps out of the sea and crash dives into Nathan’s face! Now it makes me a little nervous to yawn as they might consider it a target…
Night time watches are increasingly becoming my favorite. Not only for the stars, but also for the relief from the heat and the sun. Today we took our first showers in a week. We each took a turn sitting on the “sugar scoop” at the rear of the boat and took a bucket of sea water to wash and then rinsed with fresh water. My hair hasn’t felt so good! A few of the guys even got haircuts. We’re a good-looking and good-smelling boat now.
Until next time!
Deckercise & Flying Squid
I am feeling good. I do have to admit that I was a bit seasick the first couple days, but the crew was very supportive as I recovered, and I am now totally acclimated. I am really enjoying myself, apart from the difficulty of getting into the watch-system routine and breaking up my sleep cycle. I’m not always “all there” when I wake up…and I have to basically fall out of my top bunk (rather ungracefully as the ship rocks) to get down. It makes for a rocky landing…
I do miss home, but it is not unbearable. I appreciate the messages y’all post on TrueBlue. Plus, some friends from home sent me off to sea with a letter a day to open with words of encouragement…
We are all going to be slowing down as we near the tropics. There are a series of gates set up, and the Clipper office might call the race at any moment if the winds die away and we’re not able to move forward any longer by sail. We keep hearing the other skippers talk to each other and discuss the wind in their part of the world. And then they tell jokes or talk about the fish that they’re not catching. (I think they are rather jealous of our 2 fresh tunas and the delicious meals that came from them.) Speaking of meals, this morning we had the 2am-6am watch, and it was our responsibility to make breakfast. I made blueberry pancakes that were a hit! However, I have to say that they are most definitely the ugliest pancakes I have ever made in my life as the boat was rocking back and forth and made the pancakes into very unnatural shapes. But still delicious.
Other items of note:
1: Deckcercise: as the wind fades and the waves are relatively calm we are able to exercise on deck a bit.
2: Flying fish: they exist. A very strange sight. I thought it was a bird the first time I saw it, but then it disappeared below the surface. What a crazy creation!
3: Flying squid: Okay. They don’t fly, but they are attracted to the lights on-board at night. We had one that was about 5-6 inches long that just leapt onto the deck. It was the strangest thing!
Greetings from the ocean!
It is getting warmer and warmer by the day. I started off with thermals, mid-layers, and my foul-weather gear on top, with boots on. Now I’ve gotten rid of my thermals and am down to shorts and a t-shirt…It’s gonna be a scorcher pretty soon. And there are no fans or AC on board the good ship De Lage Landen! Maybe we’ll even get to shower?!
Last night was just glorious! We watched the sun as it disappeared over the horizon. A couple hours later, we saw the most amazing shooting star. It looked like it was relatively near to us. It lasted about 5-6 seconds and we could see it burn up in the atmosphere.
We’re still flying along with our spinnaker up, constantly trimming it night and day. The boats further out have a bit more wind, but we’re hoping that being inshore at the moment will pay off. It can be a bit grueling when you have to look straight up into the sun to see what the sail is doing. The freckles on my face have already come out, and now I’m just plain red. Gotta get the 85 SPF sunscreen out!
The crew dynamics are just wonderful. Yesterday we all enjoyed the catch of tuna fish, fresh from the sea tastes nothing like from the store! Mmmmmm! And surprise of all surprises, we have a few chefs on board. We all take turns preparing the meals, and it is quite nice when we have someone with creativity. I have a few tricks up my sleeve as well…
Thank you for the encouraging messages, and Kudos to my colleagues in Duluth, GA, USA who are taking up the slack in my absence. That’s what teamwork is all about, and I really thank you!