Racing in the Southern Hemisphere
Meanwhile we have reached the famous Roaring Forties, this is 40 degrees south of the Equator. Some weeks ago, we were fried under the merciless Equator sun, our skin covered with sun cream 50 and sweat, now I have taken out my snowboard gloves for helming at night – what a difference!
The wind systems in the southern hemisphere of our planet turns in the opposite direction than in the north, i.e. a high pressure turns now anti-clockwise (in the north it is clockwise). The same appears for the low-pressure systems but the other way. However, both are fed by ice-cold air from Antarctica, and this is in particular on night shifts, quite remarkable. We all wear three or four layers of clothes!
I like to learn more about the southern star constellations since I was never before so far in the south. I know quite a lot about the star constellations of the northern sky like Orion, big Dipper, the Plejades, Cassiopeia, Perseus etc. The Southern Cross is a famous star picture of the South. I was wondering how it looks like in the night sky. I was surprised to learn that already at the Equator we could see it. It was Josh our skipper who showed me the Southern Cross in the sky – not far away from Orion, which is a star sign very prominent in the northern night sky. The Southern Cross is visible also in a dense night sky. Next to it is bright Altair and its stars. And to my big pleasure I have seen Orion too late in the night – but this time standing on its head!
One night on deck with a calm sea state and moonlight we heard suddenly a heavy breathing ….Poufffffff! Followed by kind of a gargling sound, then again ….Pouffffff! Very close were a family of whales! Excitedly we tried to spot these miracle creatures in the moonlight but could not spot them. They followed us for about two hours then the Poufffingdisappeared.
Also, Dolphins are quite common at night. One night we have seen their torpedo like bodies shooting around the boat covered in a shiny and sparkling light – Plankton which is glowing when it is moved by the fins of the mammals.
One feels lonely on the 2nd leg, no other ship traffic nearby besides our fellows in the other Clipper Race yachts but out of sight for us. The closest other things built by mankind and moving are satellites and the ISS crossing above the sky. Other than that, birds are our companions (Petrells or Albatross). Beautiful to watch them playing with the boats sail and moving very fast around us. Once I saw a shellback turtle on the water surface, that reminded me that I am a shellback too after having crossed the Equator.
The sea state is different as well, more mighty rolling waves coming from the side or the rear of our boat. They lift it up like nothing and we are quite a weight of 40 tons. One can feel the power at the steering wheel when the force of the water is pushing the rudders away. Then you need a strong grip to keep the wheel in position and do the corrections if needed. When we have an upwind course (this is more against the wind) then the bow is jumping up and down several meters, often combined with a strong splash of water over the foredeck or in the cockpit. Now one knows what foulies are built for!
I am looking forward to Australia – I am wondering if there the water is draining out in the sink the opposite way than in the northern hemisphere!
Ship ahoy from the Southern Hemisphere!