I had heard, and seen pictures, of crews sitting on the rail of racing
yachts. The pictures normally show smiling faces. Not so for me!
As I write we are almost at the end of a 300 mile Ocean Sprint – an extra
two points are to be had for the fastest boat between five degrees south
and ten degrees south. We hit five degrees at around 7pm last night, so
the race was on. At that time, Qingdao were the fastest at an average of
9.4 knots. A very doable figure. Our watch was on the first night shift
when we went into the sprint, so apart from those on the helm everyone
else had to sit on the rail. This involves hanging your legs over the side
of the boat, and hanging on to the guard rail. Doesn’t sound too bad does
it? Well, let me tell you, it is when you have short legs. I had to
shuffle so far forward to be able to get the bend in my knee to bend, and
with the boat heeling at 45 degrees shoving you backwards, I was hanging on
to the guard rail for dear life. And we were expected to do that for four
hours. I had to frequently cheat to give my muscles a rest!
One of the leggers had said this was her only leg, and she wanted to win
something. I understand those sentiments, but actually working out what we
needed to do seemed a little unachievable. The 9.4 knots was worked out by
taking the time taken to get from five to ten degrees and divide it by 300
miles. Simple. Except that will only work when you go in a straight line
at 180 degrees south. The course we were on was 230 degrees. There is a
formula (Wendy meant to download it but didn’t!) – luckily someone else
knew it. At our course of 230 degrees we needed to travel at 15 knots per
hour average. We were travelling at around nine at that point.
I did try to point out this, but I’m not sure if it really sunk in. They
probably thought I was making it up so I didn’t have to dangle over the
side of the boat. That would have been just a bonus! Not one to push the
point, I just left it. If they thought we were on track doing nearly ten
knots who am I to disabuse them of this fact.
The sea had taken a small turn for the worse – and several had come down
with sea sickness. Either a recurrence of or new people completely. The
sea sick pills were flying off the shelves. Because of the bouncy boat,
there were a couple of injuries below deck as well – a twisted ankle, a
bunk hitting someone in the neck, and fall backwards into the wet locker.
None of the injuries were bad, but just really annoying for those that got
Another little problem that quite a few people are having is bum rash.
Touch wood I seem to have escaped that so far. It is really painful, and
considering how much time we have to sit on hard surfaces it seems hard to
get any better. Only another four days or so to get to Rio, so hopefully I
can avoid it on this leg at the very least.
So, after one night shift last night of sitting on the rail, four hours off
and we had a second night shift of sitting on the rail. Oh what joy! My
neck, shoulders, the tops of my thighs and back were not my own! I did
mention at the end of the second one that they were the most uncomfortable
watches I had had so far. Someone said “Welcome to the world of ocean
When we got back on deck for the afternoon watch today, we had about 120
miles to go, and had to be out by 1am. Oh – and another little thing. Our
“Speed over the ground” calculation instrument hasn’t worked at all on the
trip, so we don’t really know exactly what we are doing. We have boat
speed, but that doesn’t take into consideration tide or waves.
As I said before, a Friday afternoon boat.
Marc has a sailing watch, that gives all sorts of information – including speed over the ground. So, we are using his watch. Million pound boat and we need one of the crew’s watches. Hmm.
So, I spent my six hour afternoon watch on the rail (or actually not on
the rail, as I think everyone seemed to be feeling the muscle strain. We
just sat next to the rail) I had several hours to think about my trip so
far. Apart from the odd muscle strain, dead hands and pulled finger
muscles I have survived injury free so far. Several on the boat have not.
Slow and sure it is going to be for me to hopefully continue to be injury
I am mentally bored – there is so much time with nothing to do, but you
have to be up on deck on watch. Not too bad when it isn’t too hot, too
cold or too wet. We are just over the equator, and last night I wore my
full set of foulies. the spray that was coming over the side would have
soaked me through several times over – and I don’t have that many spare
changes of clothes. Therin lies another small problem I have had to
overcome – how to reach my foulies when they are on the high side. There
are two wet lockers, one each side of the boat. When we are flat, it was
no problem to reach the hook. When they are on the low side it was no
problem to reach the hook. When they are on the high side it is impossible
for me to reach the hook. Someone got them down for me the first time, but
I need a solution. So, I shoved them to the bottom of the locker not on
the hook at all. Not sure if that s going to be a viable solution in the
long term, as they will be constantly wet with everyone else’s dripping on
them as well. Oh well, will have to wait and see.
So many problems for short people. But the good thing is there is nothing
to hit my head on – something that those even a little taller than me have
issues with virtually on a daily basis.
Am I enjoying this? Wouldn’t go so far as to say that. Am I coping? Most
of the time. I seem to get on with everyone, not best buddies with any of
them, but no real problems. I can see a lot of little tweaks that I would
make to help the boat run a lot smoother. Maybe I will put forward my
ideas at an opportune moment. Might have the thing running like Travel Stop
before I get off in London next July!
So, the Ocean Sprint finishes in around five hours time. We have had new
times in for Visit Seattle and Teletubbies, both of whom are quicker than
Qingdao. We have reworked the figures, and we need to have an average of
just over 12 knots per hour on the course we are on. Not probable, but
possible. On a good note – it looks as we have overtaken Unicef. They
sailed in front of us a couple of days ago – the first time we had seen a
clipper boat for weeks. I think it will be touch and go who finishes
first, but I have my fingers crossed.