OK, we are going to make it there this time! Might get a little disjointed as I will be sharing some pictures as I go.
Overall, the journey was amazing as I learned a lot about myself and others. Crew was very interesting, entertaining, thoughtful and I do not believe I have ever heard so many please and thank yous in my life. And believe it or not there were 18 guys and 4 girls including our skipper. Actually after first couple of days with all the guys running around in their underwear it reminded me of growing up at home with cousin Bill and little brother Riley. Oh well. It has been so much fun that we have had crew houses in both Rio and Cape Town. Hearing the experiences and adventures of the others has been great fun and caused me to do a lot of positive thinking about what is out there in the world. I am the oldest on the boat, with Alex the youngest at 19 and the average age on this leg around the 40s. From Rio some of these people are then going on more adventures to explore South America and the Antarctic (2 are going to go kayaking and ice climbing there???). The UK believes in sabbaticals. Maybe that is something the US should really invest in. Great learning experience for me as we had many discussions as we went.Our time to visit with the other watch as we ate and then there would be the position report (where we were with the other boats, how far ahead they might be or how close we were and the chances of catching some), “Golden Spoon” moment (where we needed to and did voice positives or negatives onboard so the air was clear… i.e. we really didn’t appreciate the music being played from a certain area as it was heard below deck and kept some from being able to go to sleep) and “Happy Hour” with Tony. Tony would come up with some wild games for us to play or provide some thought provoking round the group question.
Schedule on the boat was an every other day watch system where you had responsibilities from 6am to noon, 6pm to 10pm, 2am to 6am, then the next day it would be noon to 6pm, 10pm to 2am, etc. I was always ready to go to sleep when we got off, so did not get too much reading or writing done. The best chance for me to do that was when we had Mother Watch in between making meals. Since we only had Mother Watch 4 times did not get much done.Some Leg 1 thoughts as we went. My mind did wonder!
How did the original settlers from England and Europe make it to the new world. They had slow boats, crowded conditions and most likely ran out of food (we were on the verge of it since the leg took longer than anticipated…. bad no wind). What drove them to make it to a new home. They must have been amazing people!
Discovered that I could indeed sleep on my back. It actually was about the only way on the bunks and in the heat.
Did you know that a planet can provide what I call a starbeam? It is much like a moonbeam seen on the water but is produced by either an incredibly bright star or a planet…Venus. My fellow crew man Javier tells me only a planet can do this as stars do not have enough brightness.
I saw lots of shooting stars, one night 5. Did you know that once you cross the equator one can’t see the north star. Constellations we know begin appearing differently. Like Scorpio is upside down!
It can be a whole lot hotter prior to the doldrums and equator if you have no wind. Below deck is really uncomfortable hot, especially if engine, generator or water maker is running and the door is open. Our first leg had many times when this was the case. Then the generator died and we had to run the motor in neutral to charge everything. Really hot!
Phosphorescence in the water. What causes those that look like pods going by? Is it a school of fish, or a bunch of vegetation or what?
I thought I would have a hard time with 22 people on board. We ended up hot bunking.. I get the bunk during my bunk buddies watch time and he gets it during mine. We just switch out sleeping bags as we get up. By the end of leg 1 I had put my sleeping bag away and was just using a sheet. Too hot! Chris was a super bunk buddy! And other than when we ate either lunch or supper on deck together, you really didn’t notice all the people.
Tired of looking at water? No boats or land in sight for days? Nope! I was really surprised on this one. The water seems to always be changing…either color, velocity, wave action, wildlife, crew talk and discussions, call to action to tack, gybe, helm, etc. always something to entertain oneself. Starboard watch had a song fest at one point. There were definitely some interesting sounds coming out and got to be mentioned during Golden Spoon moment.What about one tack for several hours…well, how about one tack for days? Another surprise, not a problem. Really amazed at how fast time went by even though the heat was such a nightmare.
How do birds survive out in the ocean so far from land? Anyone, I would like to know. One night we started with 2 birds circling the boat and playing with wind between the Yankee and Stay sail (our two sails at front of boat). Before our 4 hour shift the number had come up to 11. Fun to watch, especially the birds silhouettes against the sails from the moon shining on them. I was not sure if this was going to be a remake of Hichcock’s The Birds or we were being circled by vultures. Hopefully I will get a picture of this from Javi. He went home yesterday after being on Leg 1 and 2. Great guy and they are expecting a baby in 2 weeks! I think he was allowed to go on this adventure to get practice to get used to being the one to take care of the baby at night. Had wonderful discussions with Javi and am going to really miss him!!!
Until then, this will have to do.
Sounds of rushing water across boat hull as we lay in bunks was really soothing. The gentle rocking of the boat was another sensory feeling. OK, I have talked about life on the boat, but have not yet addressed our motoring through the Doldrums that actually had lots of wind. You had to state by a certain latitude whether you were going to motor and as we were coming out of no wind we opted for the motoring (as did all the other boats).
Some pics of life during the motoring.
What wildlife did we see along the way?
Dolphins and interestingly they became larger and darker in color the further south we went.Whale sightings but none close enough except this little odd one.
We talked about the Flying Fish, but we also had Squid that would visit us and we would find in one of the sails from time to time. Diane Took some of the down time to teach us a bit about the use of the sextant.
The end of the journey was really disappointing as we had only 60 miles and a day and a half to make it to finish when they set the time finish due to 6 of the boats had yet to finish and time was running short. We had been doing 240+ the previous days and then hit the no wind zone. We did get to do some fog horn moments when the fog hit and we could hear the fog horns from the big boats (container ships, etc). We were hoping they heard our 2 minute intervals. We ended up having to turn on the engine at 9pm UTC time to motor to finish. We were the 6th boat to come in but ICharcoal beat us due to an elapsed time issue. They had had to go into Portugal the 3rd or 4th day of the race when one of their crew was killed during an accidental gybe. The crew decided to continue racing in Andy’s memory and they enjoyed getting different wind and thus actually passed one of the boats still out and moved in front with the time elapse. This was a defeat that we could live with though. We knew that their journey was much harder than ours. It was also a reminder that life is precious and we need to live each day to the fullest and to the best we can.
I was fortunate to be met at the dock by AYC friend Emilie and some of the crews wives and girl friend. Life is good.Happy Halloween! We leave Cape Town for Albany Australia tomorrow. Will tell you about Rio, Leg 2 and Cape Town then. Just a hint, Leg 2 was night and day different than leg 1!!! Cape Town is night and day different than Rio! Everyday is a new adventure and tonight I was lucky to share it with Jeff Allen and his family as Jeff surprised me and let me know they both work in Cape Town.
And…..remember that you too can help with this journey by donating to TEAMability, UNICEF or AYC Fund. Just click on DONATE link to make the world a better place!!!!