Race 1 - Day 24
Crew Diary - London, UK to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
24 September

Henry Dale
Henry Dale
Team Unicef
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We are 135 miles from the Equator. The fattest part of the Earth. The fastest moving. We're travelling several hundred miles an hour faster here then when we left England. I have never been here before; I have never crossed the Equator at the surface. Another first.

I picture us on the side of the globe, pointing downwards, going hell for leather as we reach terminal velocity in our fall off the North Atlantic and into the Southern hemisphere. The line will be a blur as we race past.

It feels like we're falling. My foot is braced against the nav station bulkhead and I am wedged between the nav and media desks to prevent me from landing six feet below in Big Jim's bunk. We are close hauled - sailing the boat as tightly as we can into oncoming wind, which in return is trying to push the boat onto its side. We could - of course - increase the angle between our heading and the wind, and the boat would sit flatter and life would be far more comfortable. But we wouldn't be going towards Rio. You have to work with what you've got.

I'm Mother today. With Will, as usual. This should be our last before Rio, though I have many more in prospect before I can call myself a Circumnavigator. While we Mother, the watches watch or sleep, the Skipper sleeps or watches. We cook, they eat. Simple food: macaroni cheese; ginger cake; bread; rice. The washing up never ends. A conveyor belt of greasy dishes rinsed in cold seawater and wiped damp with a J-cloth. All while braced against the fall within the horseshoe of the galley. It's only for a day and the wonderful upside is eight hours of broken sleep.

The on-watch is relieved and climbs down the steps into the guts of the boat looking for food; swarming around us; falling on anything half edible. We swat them away with wooden spoons and make them sit to receive their dishes - dog bowls pressed into service for their depth and width and ability to stay upright under duress. Expert application of inertia lobs a sticky gob of macaroni cheese into steel dish. Food issued. Preposterous quantities of chilli sauce squirted. Food consumed. Dishes sluiced and wiped.

And now it is nearly midnight. The galley is clean. The off-watch is sleeping. The on-watch is hooning at the wheel. I brace myself here for a few more minutes as I finish my report, then I too will repair. I'm sleeping forward of the mast. CV30 is crashing and heaving and corkscrewing through the oncoming waves. This is going to be epic.

I started this some hours ago. We're now 90 miles from the girdle. 45 miles in some hours doesn't sound a lot to someone who hasn't spent that time walking on walls. Unless the wind dies we will almost certainly cross tomorrow.

Until anon

H

Until Race Start : The Atlantic Homecoming Leg