Race 2 - Day 12
Crew Diary - Race 2, Day 12
27 September

John Dawson
John Dawson
Team Unicef
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From London to The Doldrums

The key memories from Race 1 were the tough beating down the English Channel, the sleigh ride sprint past Cap Finistere and the wind holes past Cape St. Vincent, where we lost ten hours and four race places.

Nevertheless, we put the disappointment behind us and started Race 2 with renewed determination and positivity. Crew morale and atmosphere have been an uplifting aspect of the boat.

Wildlife sightings have featured highly on this race to date, facilitated by the calmer downwind sailing.

As expected there have been numerous episodes of dolphins guiding us through the ocean. Less expected and absolutely wonderful was the sight of possibly over 100 dolphins in a line of about a mile, corralling their prey. Also, we spotted turtles and pilot whales, including an unusually large pod of good-sized specimens. Flying fish have also been numerous, displaying great agility bouncing from wave to wave, changing direction at each one.

Less expected was a flock of swallows migrating back to Africa - might we have known some of these very ones were in Europe, many of us wondered? Lots of unknown sea birds have brought an embarrassment at my ability to identify them. I must get a guide book when we are in Punta del Este.

However, for me the most memorable moment was off Western Sahara, when quite suddenly we came across around a score of small fishing boats, all at anchor close together. It was a helming challenge for the Skipper, but as we weaved our way through we could eye-ball the fishermen. The design of the boats, the dress of the fishermen was a scene that could have been unchanged for thousands of years. It was a gift to be taken back in time, in an utterly authentic fashion. Moreover, it was coming face to face in a totally unannounced and genuine way with people from different cultures that will stay with me forever. What did they think of our large boat carving its way between them we’ll never know, but the sense of awe on their faces matched ours. Regardless, they waved back in great friendliness.

In sailing terms, we have reached the end of our 360 mile passage under motor down the Doldrums Corridor. And there is no wind!. Déjà vu to our entrapment off Portimão. With apologies to Robbie Burns, I’m quickly learning that the random nature of wind at sea can make the best made plans of ‘mice aft gang agley’. Nevertheless we will get going and race hard to earn our place on the podium.

With many thanks to my Unicef JustGiving sponsors and the backing and support of my family, who have made this journey of discovery possible.

JD 27/9/19.