Race 3 - Day 11
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Crew Diary - Race 3 Day 11: Cape Town to Fremantle
This is definitely the slow, tough route to Australia, with no sign of the sleigh ride we hoped for. The half way point of the Kerguelen Islands is still some days away; we reckon we are about 5 days behind schedule, but we have stopped counting and have settled into a sort of normality in this totally abnormal world.
We recognised that today is Remembrance Sunday, and I imagine had our own private moments of reflection at some point, but otherwise I seem to have lost track of the days and dates, and have instead settled into a routine as if it could go on almost indefinitely… it is a strange routine. I am woken from my 8 hours’ sleep at midnight UTC, just before dawn here to have my evening meal. After 4 hours on watch I come back down to eat breakfast… it is all quite tospy turvy, but the days click over quite reassuringly.
The boat is, of course, massively topsy turvy. We are still strongly heeled over, battling against the ocean current, the wind on our nose and the waves ranged against us. After four days, though, we are benefiting from a slight shift in the wind and are able at last to point more directly at Australia.
The heeling and slamming of the boat has caused a fair few bumps, sprains, knocks and bruises, but is also great for core muscle development. Washing the dishes on the low side at 45 degrees requires you to arch yourself backwards to hold your position, which is great for those muscles on either side of your spine. When I get back home I plan to smash the Saffron Walden Bootcamp record for holding the plank position, with my newly ripped washing up muscles!
The other side of the galley is easier to work on, and it is where I have been baking bread this last week. Indeed, I have just been awarded the title of ship’s Master Baker, by the previous title holder, Scott, who had to admit that in terms of loaves, mine rose higher than his. It is a truly relaxing process, even at 45 degrees, mixing the dough as a sticky mess, until there is that alchemical transformation, and it becomes coherent, stretchy, rubbery substance. In my head I always hear the voice of my team-mate on Switzerland, the American Danish baker, Ralph, who gave me my first master class in bread making, gesticulating and repeating the phrase, "Develop the dough, Ed. Develop the dough!"
The day before yesterday was a red letter day for us: we hoisted the Yankee 3 for the first time in about a week. It had been the second casualty of the tethered man overboard incident earlier. The first casualty is fully recovered and back to full duties on deck, thank goodness, but the yankee was terribly damaged during the rescue. We had been attempting to pull it down, so it was flogging throughout the ordeal, the stitching all around the clew (the bottom corner) being savagely eroded by the loose sheets (the ropes that control the clew). The ropes ended as a monstrously contorted mass while the sail stitching was shredded. Alison led a team of helpers painstakingly re-stitching the clew around the clock for 6 days; a massive task, stitching through multiple layers of very tough fabric. It took me 5 minutes and all my strength to put my first stitch in!
Yesterday, however, it was completed, hoisted and we listened nervously as tons of load were ground onto our stitching. It flew happily for two days before being replaced by our yankee 2. Impressive stitching!
Meanwhile the thrill of helming this massive toy, like an HGV over a mogul ski slope, continues, while the albatrosses cruise casually past us, almost within touching distance, that enigmatic smile on their rounded pink beaks and those eyes in their while faces which look at you curiously and, I am sure, make true eye to eye contact….