Clipper Race 2017/18 - Charlie's Voyage - Leg 5. Week 1
The first week of leg 5 has included a visit from King Neptune himself, tackling the Doldrums Corridor, and MOB1 training for the Dare to Lead crew.
Welcome back to Dare To Lead’s Clipper Round the World Yacht Race adventure.
We left Airlie Beach just over a week ago and are making our way northwards towards the China stops, Sanya and Qingdao.
No escape from King Neptune
Leg 5 brings us another equator crossing and this time there will be no escape from King Neptune and a crossing ceremony as I can see Skipper Dale and our new Team Coordinator Jenny huddled over a notepad giggling as they decided the crimes that each of us have committed. I think I should be worried? Mention Neptune and out come the flying fish, this time they had best stay in the water, surely I've paid my dues and do not need to be a target for them again?!
A relaxing, but hot start
With an equator crossing brings another Doldrums Corridor and the chance to motor through the likely location of a windless zone. So far, we have had a relaxing start to this race; commencing with a short race just off Airlie Beach to decide the line-up for the Le Mans start after which the fleet had around 24hrs of motoring in order to get outside of the Great Barrier Reef before a light wind start in the Le Mans and then into favourable downwind sailing for a few days. The four new leggers had it ridiculously easy apart from the unbearable heat. They have quickly learned that here on Dare To Lead dripping with sweat is an every minute occurrence in the heat and that sleeping in anything but your underwear will be unbearable. The only saving grace is the small USB fan that you have inches away from your face.
Sleep? Not when you’re next to the engine room!
In the last leg I had the pleasure of a top bunk and to my delight found that I felt both comfortable and secure even if I was on the high side. I thought this had meant that my 'worry' of a top bunk was over and in fact I had just learned the trick of pulling it right up to the top so that I was in my very own cocoon. However, this leg I've the delight of the top bunk next to the engine room door which I have found is narrow compare to the others and all too soon my 'worry' returned once back to life at 45 degrees meaning sleepless watches and a ratty Charlie.
If this wasn't enough to contend with, I also have the regular routine waking up every hour on the hour when the engine room is opened so that the fuel day tank level can be checked. If by luck I had managed to sleep through, every 3 hours when under engine, the roar of the fuel pump comes to life and that is just like a 747 taking off right beside your head – if anyone can sleep through that then they need to teach me how! Lucky for me our motoring has now ended, and we are potentially a little too light on fuel and that equates to less generator hours, so fingers crossed I may be over the hourly wake ups.
Getting accustomed to knocks and blows
Since leaving the doldrums corridor we have returned to a 45-degree heel and due to being a light crew I've been able to nestle into a bunk that is half filled with bags on a much better angle. This is probably for the better as I did give Skipper Dale a fright last night when I fell on my climb down from the top bunk; shiny, no grip wall combined with wet feet and hands lead to a narrow escape from face planting the engine room door from about a meter up. Good news is that not only did I avoid crushing my face against the door, but I also managed to walk away with just a small bruise, I think my body is getting accustomed to knocks and blows that comes hand in hand with life at 45 degrees. Sadly, this does mean that I have no impressive battle scar to show off in ports.
Rex the Pink Panther
We had a flash back to leg one this week when a water-maker decided to give up the ghost, the only difference this time was that it was Liverpool 2018's and we held the spare parts. After a few calls between the Skippers a plan was hatched to rendezvous during the doldrums corridor and at first light we stopped racing and the transfer was made. Water is a life or death reality out here even more so with the heat that we've had. To show their appreciation the Liverpool 2018 team returned our empty water canisters with a dry bag filled with goodies, I think it will take up to Qingdao to eat all the sweets they have given us! Carefully tucked away was also their mascot a Pink Panther, who we've named Rex, the girls are taking it in turns to look after him as the boys cannot be trusted unfortunately he has already fallen foul of them once!
The week ahead will see us battle our way through an enormous wind hole, rather like a bear hunt we can't go around it, under it or over it so we must go through it and hope for the best that we come out the other side quickly. This will be the perfect opportunity for the new crew to get to grips with their MOB1 beacon, especially as we now have a dummy beacon for training purposes.
Personally, I am looking forward to no longer repacking all their Lifejackets, they will be unable to use the excuse “I'm worried I'll set the AIS off and cause havoc, you know how not to set it off. Pleeease?” Unfortunately, I'm sure they have plenty more excuses up their sleeves.
Until next week,
This blog was written by Charlie Garratt, Clipper 2017/18 Crew Member and 3Si Ocean Safety Ambassador.