The end of Race 12 (Panama to Jamaica) is in sight although with the
absence of any real breeze actually finishing could take a little while. At
sunset we hoisted the Code 1 kite in the vague hope of utilising what
little wind there is. It was always the plan to go for a glory finish with
the kite aloft – but that staring touch of sailing at speed over the
finishing line to a podium place will have to remain one of the skipper’s
stated but unobtainable ambitions … not that we didn’t try either.
The finishing hours of this race are about as different from the start
as it is possible to be. Race 12 – although relatively short (a mere 4
days) – has been truly character testing what with one thing or another.
The race started with wind – 22+ knots of trade wind – and up wind
sailing, so that until this morning we were pounding through the waves + the
rather mountainous swell in lurching heaves + plunges + at an angle of heal
so severe that the deck felt positively vertigenous. Existence comprised of
clinging to some part of the boat + concentrating very hard on the horizon in
some brave effort not to feel seasick. Questions like ‘Why am I doing this?’
didn’t feature – pushed to the extremities of my mind by the sole exercise of
trying to survive without undue physical harm.
When not terrified witless – there were times – the sea became a subject of
study + wonder as to how a single entity could appear so very different in
the differing light throughout the day (+ night – it has been a full moon).
Crew duties continue as on all sailing except we had the added challenge of
the generator failing on the first night (so no on-board computer), followed
shortly by the water-maker and both heads (no toilets!). It was in these
conditions on the first night that I discovered the new sport of extreme
cooking. This involves providing a hot meal for a crew of 21 in a galley
tilted over to near vertical, where any item or food substance either
dodgem-car’ed its way through the other stuff on the counter or leaps to its
death on the gallery floor. To make the whole exercise a little more
challenging chopping, dicing, catching + cooking were illuminated by head-
torch (on red light so as not to obliterate the night-sight of the helm). I
have never felt so seasick – death would have been welcome – + having
prepared the food I retired to the floor + left the serving up + eating to
those with more nautically-adapted constitutions.
Moving round the boat is nothing short of life-threatening – it is my now
strongly held opinion that extensive skills on a rock climbing wall with
over-hang capabilities a necessity should be made a mandatory requirement
for round the world sailing!
But that said here I am!