4th December, 2000 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Boston to Buenos Aires - reflections.....
After a few weeks R & R in Boston, we were glad to get going again and get back into the racing routine. Boston gave us a fine send-off and as with Leg 1 start, light winds meant that the fleet chopped and changed
positions for quite a few hours until splitting into an easterly group and another which followed the coast.
It had been decided that
we would follow an easterly course which we knew would make our position initially look poor. Morale was largely very good among the crew despite the knowledge that family, friends and supporters would think that we
were going in the wrong direction! In fact we were committed to the chosen course and we had good boat speed but it was the case that on at least three clear occasions when we expected the current and winds and
weather to give us particular advantages, that Mother Nature simply did not play ball! Needless to say, on the next leg round Cape Horn to Wellington, when there is less chance for tactical differences, we expect
to have better results.
The 'bikini' leg?
At the end of the leg, we agreed that it had been relatively easy by comparison to crossing the Atlantic. It
was not, however, the 'G & T' or 'bikini' leg as promised! Yes, sailing in the tradewinds was wonderful and there were long, very hot days as we crossed the tropics. If you were on deck, it was mostly very
enjoyable. Sail-changing was a pleasure as we worked in shorts and t-shirts and the waves soaking us were at a temperature sometimes of 28 degrees. Down below however, it was a different story. With hatches closed to
avoid the ingress of water, it became horribly sultry and humid. A day on motherwatch for each of us became a nightmare as we tried to cook and clean.
Qs and As
I was delighted to receive the following questions from the students of Maktab Sains (Science College) in Brunei. Before leaving the
Sultanate in April this year, I had the pleasure of meeting them and telling them about the race. The students asked:
Do any of you still get seasick or are you all used to it by now?
Most people get their 'sea legs' within a few days of setting off, but
some still continue to suffer quite badly on and off. It's quite debilitating as it means that the sufferer cannot work easily or contribute to the normal running of the watch. I'm lucky as I am rarely affected.
Would you enter a similar race in the future?
Ask me next June when the BT Global Challenge has finished!
Do you have time to put on make up, powder and such?
I hardly remember what they are for! Seriously, I use precious free time for
writing my journal and then it's time to get some Zzzzzs.
Has anyone fallen overboard?
Ah! Serious question - thankfully, no. Our team is well practised in the art of retrieving a 'man overboard' but we hope never to have to try it in anger.
Does anyone fish for food?
race! Would Schumacher stop to give someone a lift in the middle of a Grand Prix? Get real! We could fish but trailing a line would slow our progress.
What has been your most frightening experience?
It might have been facing 78 knot winds when
crossing the North Atlantic, or was it in a lesser 48 knot squall when I was hanging on to the mainsail for grim death, wondering how soon it would rip into pieces? (Luckily, it didn't.) Or was it in rough, rolling seas
and strong winds when the Skipper warned us about potential knockdowns. The thought of the yacht's usually vertical mast being horizontal in the water is almost sure to happen at some point - a bit of a worry, that!
Have you had any funny incidents?
Too many to mention! A recent one was when one of the chaps was cooking in the galley and because of the motion of the yacht, he spilt a kind of pink custard powder all over his navy blue shorts. It was really the
last straw in a really difficult day which made it incredulously funny - perhaps you had to be there! But what a sight and such a mess! It can be very frustrating because things just don't stay still in the normal way.
You put something down and it moves! Another time one of the guys was making flapjack. All he had to do was add water. Unfortunately he miscalculated the instructions and we ended up with flapjack soup.
Who is your best friend and why?
My best friend is my lifejacket. That and my safety harness help keep me attached to the yacht in rough weather. Serious stuff indeed.
Have you seen any whales, dolphins or sharks?
Coming across the Atlantic, we saw whole schools
of leaping dolphins, the occasional shark, a few homing pigeons and exhausted sparrow-like birds far from home. Near the River Plate estuary before we reached Buenos Aires, a whale briefly crossed astern of us. It has
to be said that I expected to see much more in the way of wildlife.
Is your health, both mental and physical, good?
On the physical side, very much so! It would appear too that ocean racing is a good way
to lose weight if you want to, as most of us, though we have eaten well, have
lost a lot of weight. The race is promoted as the 'BT Global Challenge - world's toughest yacht race'; that it may be but among the Crew Volunteers across the fleet, we have fondly re-named it the 'BT Global Challenge - world's most expensive diet'! (We each pay £25,000 to take part.) On the mental health side, you would have to be the judge, as to do what we are doing and to pay for the pleasure, many people have called us completely 'mad', including HM the Queen - see the
What is the first place that you want to go to when you reach land?
A bathroom that has more than a cloth for a door and a loo that flushes without eternal pumping!
Who is the worst person on your yacht and why?
The 'worst' for what? Leaving tea bags in the sink, being idle, telling jokes? The great
thing is that on our yacht, we have a great combination of people, the sure and sensible, the jokers, the grafters - all make their contribution. Those are by no means my last words on the subject but they are enough
Have any of the crew got any strange habits?
Interesting question.....but you know, sometimes what happens on board has to stay on board!
Do any of the crew do anything interesting in their spare time?
Mostly reading and perchance dreaming .......of steaks ashore!
In a normal day, what most do you look forward to?
The 'big six' hours off watch! That and checking my e-mail.
How many mainsails, headsails and spinnakers are you carrying on board?
We have one mainsail.
The genoa and three yankees make up the headsails on the forestay. When a yankee is used, the staysail flies on the inner forestay. For spinnakers, we have the flanker (heavyweight), the race kite (1.5 oz)
and the promo - lightweight and one other.