Last night Cayle and James were on shift. It was just before midnight. The weather was rough but it wasn't the worst we have experienced. I had just come off shift and was getting comfortable in the cabin. I had just closed the door and made the cabin watertight. I was preparing to tuck into a packet of peanuts. Suddenly there was a huge crashing sound as a wave careered into the side of the boat. I couldn't hear too much from outside but I felt my body thrown from floor to ceiling and back again. The boat had been hit so violently that it pitched completely upside down.
Cayle and James had been ejected from their seats and thrown overboard. The kit was fantastic and kept us safe. We always row in lifejackets at night and so we are attached by a safety leash which keeps us attached to the boat even we get ejected into the sea. The guys got back on board and they are absolutely fine. It was a strange experience because when I looked at them I did not see fear in their eyes, in fact I think I saw excitement!
The good news is that our old friend, our boat Endeavour, popped right back up and did exactly what it was supposed to do. Very reassuring – it works. The boat is designed to re-right itself in a capsize situation. The key things are to keep the cabin doors closed, so you have two air-pockets if you go under, and to have the weight of the ballast water in the storage compartments to help counterbalance the roll. It did the job and we were back up and running. Annoyingly we have lost a few miles in the race.
Almost straight after capsize I called the race duty officer (who is in charge of safety) and they have monitored our situation since. They were very professional and we had a calm and rational conversation. I also called Alex on our shore team and let him know that everything is under control and to keep our families as up to date as possible. You hear about capsizes so much, but think or hope they will not happen to you. But here we were. Upright. Upside down. Back up again. Probably almost as quickly as you just read those words. In the moment that it happened it was a shock, but it wasn’t a huge surprise in the context of the conditions that we have experienced so far. We are only a quarter of the way across and we have already lost a quarter of the fleet, almost all of them to rescue.
Now that the sun is back up I have had a pleasurable 3 hours steering and the weather has improved a bit. I hope that it will continue to be ok. There will be strong NE but weather dropping down a bit. It’s still punchy but not as worrying at night. Scott’s dad says that rolling is no excuse to slow down and that’s very much the attitude we take.
1st place is only 140 miles in front of us. We’ve got some miles to make up!