Things have got a bit simpler this week. The usual maintenance challenges remain but thankfully they are confined to a broken seat bearing and damaged footplate - it’s not too major compared to other problems we have had. This remarkably unexciting state of affairs has sadly extended to other things such as wildlife, of which we have seen next to nothing for most of the race. With the atrocious weather most wildlife seems to have gone on strike. The first 200 miles of the race was amazing, we saw dolphins, wales, marlin, a shark and a few birds. Little of that remains, although Hamish the bird (or a close relation at least) still appears to be following us but just about everything else seems to have given in. Amongst the fatalities we have already had to deal with the demise of our beloved Larry the locust – but we have kept busy so thankfully have not dwelt on it. I am sad to report that we had another casualty though. We had a teddy bear called Chirpy who was kindly donated by a team of 4 girls, the Coxless crew, who are preparing to row the Pacific this year. We recently discovered that Chirpy was absent from his post on the cabin roof. We have been waiting for search and rescue report but we are not holding out much hope because he didn't have a life-jacket. We will say a few words for him as he is now missing presumed dead.
General bits and bobs
Our only food luxury is tinned fruit a nice energy drink called Pussy. I am not craving food but a cold drink would be fantastic. I keep thinking about the beers from La Gomera which came in a frozen glass. Marvellous! But even an elderflower cordial would be good for now, as long as it’s cold.
Sights and sounds. The night skies have been amazing but the opportunity to view them has been a bit limited. We have incredible sunsets when it’s not too cloudy with all kinds of shades of pink and red. We just need a bit more clear sky to make the most of it.
Crew behaviour. Cayle has names our ‘new’ crew member ‘Bambi on roller skates’ – a role being played by Jenks. His complete lack of poise and balance is keeping us all entertained. Other than Jenks’s clumsy perambulations we all have a pretty steady routine. We come off each shift get the admin mat out and then clean our sores with Betadine and our body with baby wipes. The only other erratic behaviour is Scott, who has a tendency to get dressed and ready for shift an hour early which is a truly frustrating experience for him given how long it takes to dress and undress in the cabin.
I can honestly say, despite the fantastic team we have, I really didn’t expect to be doing as well as we are. It’s a remarkable achievement and I am so proud of the team. The challenge we have got now is that having taken advantage of going south earlier than many other crews we are now all back together again and the advantage is no longer there. It is now more of a drag race and this time we will have little or no weather advantage. We seem to have managed the bad weather quite well and that has helped us stay near the front so far.
The forthcoming conditions will be a new challenge with stronger winds from Monday, probably around 30 knots. It will increase the sea state leading to larger waves and an increase in boat speed and daily distance. It may also mean that we need to disable the auto-helm and steer manually for safety – not necessarily a disaster as our biggest mileage so far has been on hand steering at 74 nm in 24 hours. Our hope is that we have more consistent winds than in the past so we have safer conditions.
For the nautical amongst you, we are now at 41 degrees and have to get to 60 degrees. If we average 60 nautical miles every 24 hours that should mean another 20 days to go and get us in around the 22nd. We can’t relax for a second before then.