Latest developments! Signs of land are starting to emerge. We are starting to see seaweed which you only get closer to the coast. Scott claims to be able to smell rum punch which seems unlikely given that the wind is blowing towards Antigua not away from it.
ETA – We have about 200 odd miles to go and are making good progress but the wind is very up and down. At 60miles a day we will be in on Tues pm. We are still operating 2 hours ahead of Antigua so we can gain that time. Winds are very variable but are good ENE so they are with us. Polo are still in reach but it will take something special to catch them.
Things weren’t helped by another auto-helm disaster, with the chain breaking leading to a fix using the spare hosepipe from the water-maker. The EPIRB (our emergency rescue beacon) then went off of its own volition and we had to have a chat with the coastguard in Falmouth to explain who we are, confirm the vessel name and confirm we are ok.
Final week versus first week
It’s a lot warmer, a lot dryer on deck, we don’t have any breaking waves, the sun is out, we are in shorts. Our admin is better, our routine is better.
Life is better.
The mental perspective is different – we are frustrated that we haven’t caught Polo but at the end of the day we have still done extremely proud of our progress. Taking 2 novices to sea in the conditions we have has been a big challenge. How have they adapted? Incredibly well! It’s been a complete baptism of fire. No one wants to be on a para anchor within the first 4 day and no one wants to be rolled in huge seas full stop. Taking that into account the crew has done amazingly well.
My challenge as skipper is to ensure we do not let our guard slip. Things like hatches are key and we have to keep them closed however hot it gets, capsizing with an open hatch means the boat will fill up with water and it will never come back up again.
Living in a paddling pool
Having rowed the Indian Ocean I can say the rowing has been a lot easier this time. But everything else has been a huge challenge. The weather has been a lot rougher. I will remember this trip for being relentless. It has been punishing – we spent the 4 weeks in oilskins all day long. We had no dry clothes and were effectively living in a paddling pool - quite demoralising. I will always remember those conditions from the first few weeks.
Our military background sets the conditions for us to work really well as a team and to maintain morale. We have been able to keep going when times get tough and encourage each other. We always knew we had a good bunch of lads but I don’t think we really had expectations to do well in the race. We had however, always said we would do our best. We are keen to beat our predecessors’ time of 50 days and 23 hours set back in 2012. It was their achievement as the first wounded crew to make the crossing which paved the way for us. From a campaign perspective Cayle and Scott may feel that they have a point to prove but I don’t think it is to themselves. It is to provide an example and source of hope for others, especially those who have been recently wounded. I think that they have done an exceptional job!