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Race 4 – Day 5

Team Garmin - Philip Upson

08 NOV 2013 - Race 4

Hello to all you out there in the real world as the crazy world of on board the Clipper Race continues. This is my first ever blurb so excuse me if the format is somewhat eccentric. Though we are just over 48 hours out from our “third time lucky” restart, and roughly 48 hours behind the fleet, we have made some good progress. The weather gods have been relatively good to us with some strongish winds on the beam and starboard quarter as we skirted round the western and southern edges of the Aghullas bank a place notorious for confused seas due to currents and its relative shallow depths.

Last night on the helm we had had moments of perfect clear skies where the upside down (to us form the Northern Hemisphere) belt of Orion was the marker to keep the bucking 70 foot ocean racer under control. The previous night we had the pleasure of following the Southern Cross. 

Though the sea states have been relatively rough the main beam on rollers have been manageable but confused by the overlay of the new wind rear quarter shorter waves. Makes for a tough time for the two souls slaving away in the galley, currently Ric and Terry who are just this moment serving up a tasty spicy salami pasta to the ongoing starboard watch at 20.30.

So we have been rocking along at a fair whip but also not over pressing her at all as we settle into new crew and a new boss. The weather is mild and the waters have been warm but now the sea temp is dropping off. Heading East rather than south we should be spared he real cold for some days.

This am we put up the code 3 which is nautical lingo for the smallest (and consequently heaviest material) asymmetric foresail or “kite”. Hanked on to the bow sprit the heavy weight acts like a spinnaker without a pole but does not have the free range of a spinnaker however has the advantage of not needing a pole. With the new modus operandi on board we used the lighter conditions in daylight to get everyone helming with the kite up. Ben coached the less confident helms to get the feel of running and surfing down these small rollers gaining speeds of nearly 20 knots, a scary number for those used to smaller yachts, but Team Garmin handles well and is light on the touch.

After continuous heavy weight sailing for about three watches a snag on the lazy sheet of the kite unexpectedly released the tack of the kite forcing a quick drop, it happened this was rather well timed as dusk was approaching some weather and squalls as a front passed over. Now after a few white sail changes we are experiencing lighter winds after the front and expect these to stay for a period.

Life down below was hell for the few who suffered seasickness in the first days but most are getting over it. The new watch system of 4 shifts of three hours and three of four hours is quite tough. Given that you have to be on deck ten minutes before the new watch and it takes ten minutes to get togged up in foul weather gear and lifejackets etc we have to wake up 30 minutes before the end of the off shift. Hence 3 hour down time equates to 2-2.15 sleep. Though the human body, and spirit can cope wit a lot of change it takes a bit of tie to settle in to it. Perhaps in a couple of days well all be OK with it. The big advantage for the more southerly and windy days will be in keeping the on stints shorter.

Through the misfortune of another boat we have managed to claw back one position despite a 48 hour delay to our restart and we are beginning to hunt down other waifs and stays. Though unlikely to make it to the front of the fleet the crew are up for a good effort to make up on our own misfortunes.

Morale is high and we hope Neptune and the ancient mariner look favourably on our efforts.

The catch phrase of he day is “ Is that an Albatros?”.... as yet another large seagull follows our progress.