It’s hot. Damn hot. The wind hole that we have been waiting for and dreading has finally arrived and we have dropped right into the middle of it. This means heat heat heat and no breeze to alleviate the misery.
The sailing is minimal and much of the time is spent on deck trying to move as little as possible and watching the sails flap uselessly above us. Conditions down below are truly miserable – the moment you step on to the companionway steps to go down into the galley you can feel the heat on your ankles and the temperature rises significantly.
Standing in the galley while the mothers are cooking is even more torture – sweat immediately forms and starts rolling down your face and you have to come up on deck every half an hour or so to cool down, rehydrate and get over feeling nauseous because of the heat. The mothers should probably be called galley slaves – chained to the steaming hot stove to cook meals and, especially, to turn the oven on to bake bread!
When you are in your bunk sleep is almost impossible as it feels you are lying in a pool of your own sweat. Without a fan it would be insupportable, and those who do not have power packs are definitely suffering, or ending up in the sail locker where there is slightly more breeze. It’s marginally better if you have an outside top bunk – occasionally a snippet of breeze makes it through the hatches and cools some of the sweat running off you. The coffin bunks on the inside are torture though – if you put your hand on the ceiling above you, you can feel the heat radiating off the deck.
All this means that people are getting little sleep and are coming up on watch earlier and earlier. The reluctance to go down below is also very obvious so changeovers are currently a very sociable occasion, with everyone hanging out on deck, playing music, reading and watching for wind.
Another problem with the heat is that our fresh food supplies start to go off much more quickly. Our latest issue is with eggs and last night the Zimmer Watch spent an hour going through the eggs and chucking a load overboard. Everyone is very conscious of not using rotten eggs and getting salmonella poisoning, so we chucked around 100 in the end that we were not sure of. Turns out this was a good thing, as when the mothers came to make fritatta for lunch the remaining eggs were also rotten. The smell of bad eggs is also repellent, and it lingers, so getting the culprits off the boat was definitely a bonus. Zimmer Watch took to playing Clay Pigeon shooting with them (‘Pull!’) and there was a suggestion of saving a few for PSP, as repayment for them water bombing us in Qingdao, but this was vetoed as too nasty. Rotten eggs stuck to your sails and sheets? Ugh!
The wind hole also means frustration as we watch the rest of the fleet sailing away from us. In long legs like this I’ve noticed that tempers start to fray and people start to get on each others’ nerves around usually Day 18/19. It’s probably because we are far enough in to have settled into a routine, but not close enough to the finish to really feel like we have almost made it. It’s definitely a limbo sort of period, and not helped here by bobbing around going nowhere, with chronic heat and lack of sleep.
Wendo was the lucky one today – she went overboard to check that there was nothing tangled around the rudders, and that they were in alignment. She came back on deck with a big grin on her face and looking very refreshed – apparently the sea is beautifully warm and refreshing. Not helpful for the rest of us who are all drowning in our own sweat! But at least she has allowed the mothers a half bucket of fresh water to wash in when they are on mother watch. Clean hair is a big topic of conversation at the moment. And Chewie has asked about what the next beard style should be, once he has had a wash. He is mother tomorrow.
Big hugs to you my dear and I hope the pain is alleviating somewhat. As always, wish you were here (though with conditions at the moment it’s probably better that you are not!).
Guest Blog by Valerie Saint-Pierre.