"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Sunday, 22 December 2013

leg 2: rio, brazil to cape town, south africa

leaving rio :)
the race start was delayed by a day to the 12th of october, which was a relief to us and invest africa! the inshore route took us past sugarloaf and almost onto copacabana beach (much to the sunbathers' surprise) before heading for the southern ocean.

it was pretty rough going and I was mother with derek. loads of the new guys and a few of the leg 1 guys were seasick, so there weren't many takers for tea that evening. I was happily fine, which I put down to only being on land for 2 days, and that was a massive relief.

the superyacht 'louise' who had been our neighbours in rio came out to see us off which was really nice. the start for us is a cautious affair, as matt firmly believes you have to be in it to win it, although we did get really close to henri lloyd at one point.

the first few days were a mix of folk recovering from seasickness, being exhausted from leg 1 still and just generally settling in (or back in) to the routine of the boat. the downside of being so tired is that the temptation to fall asleep on watch is really high. I got busted on the 1800-2200 watch by matt for sleeping in the cockpit. I was so tired, but I need to just get on with it. whoops...

on this leg, matt is starting to give lunchtime lectures during happy hour. sometimes these are a precursor to actually doing what we've been talking about, like the peel on leg 1. I was on logs and took the opportunity to get matt to teach me a bit about weather, which has always been a bit of a dark art to me, and a little navigation. he is really good at teaching, and I am starting to be able to read the weather files. what's good is that he shows me the forecast and I try to interpret it then he corrects me (if he needs to) and we talk about what that means longer term. it's working out pretty well, and he's loaned me his weather book as well :)

my bunkmate beth, who is doing legs 2, 3 and 4, is my new media buddy after hannah finished her leg. we are on opposite watches so the system me and hannah came up with can continue :)

my ptkd (see leg 1 race 2 post) is still quite bad, so matt and mick are giving me driving lessons. I'm a bit freaked out that I'll be learning to drive in the southern ocean but matt says I have to drive as a round the worlder. gulp. I was never that great a helm in dinghies, except for upwind, and I was awful on the tall ships so I'm a bit apprehensive about that to be honest. I have to try though...

the kite went up on the 17th and we think he'll be up until we reach cape town. awesome :)

had a really terrible time on the helm and just point blank refused to do it again. am just trimming and grinding to keep my head down. I find helming so frustrating when I can't do it but at the same time I want to get better at it. catch22 I suppose. more driving lessons from matt on the horizon.

we started to go through the mission performance team building material which is going to help us develop as individuals and a team. it was really interesting but it took ages. me and kate are still on the same watch, although sophie is on the other one now. kate's mum (who is a legend) has got us both a massage and lunch in cape town. I cannot wait. it's my birthday at the end of the leg, and kate's the day after we leave on leg 3. we so need a massage!
jo, sarah, orla and sophie fixing the code 1

I was mother again with derek on the 21st (but lucky this time!!) but overnight the other watch crash gybed then rounded up and the code 1 ripped its own head off. luckily the luff line was still attached so with careful easing of the halyard and pulling on the remains of the kite, they got it on deck with minimal hassle. sophie, sarah, jo and orla are now working in 4 hour shifts to repair him. unluckily for us we are now in ocean sprint mode and need the kite!! again, we are sleeping on the high side for ballast but I'm in the mother bunk for a solid 14 hours. oh yeah :)

well that was the idea anyway, I got woken around 0300 as the boat crash gybed again then broached this time. my watch were on deck, and they'd got a riding turn around the working kite sheet which meant they couldn't ease the kite out and giving steering back to the helm. they decided to drop the kite and rehoist, but the tack couldn't be spiked so matt blew the tack line from the cockpit. the kite was now flying free with the tack block and entire tack line still attached, but the guys got the kite in. as I was just out of bed, I stayed down below to receive the kite. there was a bit of damage to the code 2 as it got stuck in the letterbox, which wasn't what we needed with a huge repair already ongoing with the code 1...

a few of the deck crew got a huge fright (as you'd expect) and there were a couple of minor injuries. we were woolling the code 2 when I heard matt looking for me. he wanted a full rig check done before we flew another kite as the rig had taken a bit of a kicking in the broach. by now it was around 0430, I was fully awake, and it was getting light. I got kitted up and put my harness on and went on deck. the guys were like 'I don't think this is the time to be going up the rig' but I pointed out it wasn't really negotiable and up I went. I checked the mast alignment first though! it was a pretty hairy climb to the top and I took a bit of a kicking. at one point I lost my grip on the mast and swung all the way around the main, before smacking back into the mast. 'that's going to bruise' I thought as I kept going north... I checked every fixture and fitting from the top to the bottom, got back on the deck and just lay down, exhausted. matt came to unplug me and I told him that the rig was ok and he was relieved. we got the code 3 up - it was now our only working kite - and kept going.

I can totally rock this look!
looking pretty tired...

I managed another couple of hours sleep before the daily meeting and going on watch. this further kite damage was bad news as we were only about 70 miles from the finish of the ocean sprint and using an inappropriate kite. however, we push on as much as we can.

more kite evolutions and woolling is keeping us busy. the routine rolls on and beth is mother. as we bunk share, she gets first dibs on the bunk so I am displaced for the night. I kip in bee's bunk which is right opposite the engine room door. nobody can find me for watch so I get an extra 20 minutes guilt free sleep!! apparently I am quite difficult to wake up...no comment...

we are now trucking along quite nicely to cape town and on the 24th it looks like we could be arriving on my birthday. this would be good :)

spoke too soon. another kitemare, this time with the code 3. the halyard has run through and the kite is in the water dragging the halyard behind it. I go up to re-run the halyard, and the code 3 is retrieved, woolled and back in the air shortly afterwards. the code 3 is dropped a bit later so we can hoist the yankee 2 and staysail. the tack was a little complicated to spike and I have a slight mishap on the bowsprit...
what have we done now?!
pete in his amazing leggings...

the code 1 is repaired!! this means we get jo back on watch with us. me and kate have missed her and her crazily infectious laugh. on the 26th it looks like we'll get in late on my birthday and then have to do immigration and deep clean. oh well...

the jagged line right across the head is the fabulous repair the girls did on the code 1 :)

matt has decided that we'll start the deep clean and maintenance list now to make sure we maximise our time off in cape town after we had none in rio. this is a good idea and everyone gets stuck in. me and kate start with a load of chafe protection to fit to the tack line and both spinnaker halyards. we also decide to fit the donuts which we didn't bother with originally. the halyards have been the wrong way round (red fleck on starboard, green fleck on port) for ages now and we take the opportunity to re-run them the correct way as well. this makes me very happy.

pete our assistant watch leader has been quietly trying to work out my ptkd and slowly encouraging me to helm again. he hasn't bullied or made a big deal of it and this method works. I sneak up to him one day and I am driving again :)

on my birthday, my watch sing 'happy birthday' to me. what a nice way to wake up. matt appears shortly afterwards and sings it again as a solo as he missed the original rendition. we get loads of stuff knocked off the jobs list, then mick and ed have made me dairy free cake to have with lunch! at lunchtime, everyone sings to me. three times in one morning!! a new personal best :)

unfortunately we get stuck in the traditional windhole later that day, and end up peeling to the windseeker, then back to the code 1. not getting in today then...

jo starts to teach me how to play backgammon, which I've never been able to play and have always been intrigued by.

that'll be table mountain then

flaking the main. from above

I spend the entire approach into cape town at the top of the mast, fitting spectra strops to the spinnaker halyard blocks on the mast cranes. when I'm ready to come down, the main is being flaked so I have a great view while I wait.

it's a really great view from the top. on the way in I spot the rest of the fleet. we are coming in 11th again... only beating qingdao, who arrive several hours behind us.

on the approach, table mountain is completely invisible, covered by cloud. as I splice and whip the strops the cloud clears and I'm treated to the full view :)

I also get to watch the crew flake the main. everyone is in mission gear for the arrival and they look really smart doing the flake. this is a really good position, if a little chilly now I'm not working!

epic birthday cake (vegan)
aftermath of being attacked by hungry crew!

we arrive into the marina as the crew from the other 10 boats clap and cheer from their bows. it's a hugely emotional moment and one I wasn't prepared for. coming in at the back isn't so bad...

once gillian has gone through arrivals procedures with us, sir robin hands over my birthday cake which the awesome julie (my housemate in oman) has organised all the way from oman. it's vegan and BLUE. he has the decency to look well jealous. I forget to offer him some, and we attack it with forks. no plates are involved.

we enjoy the cake loads, and shortly there isn't much left. I pick on it for a day or so and then it is gone. the icing is amazing. it dyes your tongue and your lips blue so it's obvious when someone's been eating it!

we get the deep clean done, and I get to speak to david who is the recruitment manager for clipper. he is here with the roadshow trying to get folk to sign up for the next races :)

I'm not feeling too great so I have an early night. I'm looking forward to this stopover as we have almost a week!!

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