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A Dot on the Ocean

Each day as the yachts race in the Global Challenge, teams will file daily logs via satellite to the web site.

These log entries are designed to be more than simple position and status reports; they are the teams’ way of sharing the excitement and drama as it is seen and felt by those aboard.

Via the Global Challenge’s RSS Feed ATWOS will feature selected daily logs.

Today’s log is from Team Stelmar’s Susan Lyons

It is the 27th October 2004 and our position is 17 10.61 S and 37 32.9 W. We are approximately 90 miles off the coast of Brazil and approaching Rio de Janeiro. I am sitting on the side of the yacht under a particularly starry night and there has just been an eclipse of the moon.

As I sit and reflect over the day’s events I look up at the leech of the mainsail vacillating in the wind and cutting a clear line against the sky. Millions upon millions of stars are glistening in the night giving an awesome feeling of the immensity of the universe. When viewed from this perspective, magnificent Team Stelmar is a mere dot on the ocean and her crewmembers even smaller dots. This has a humbling effect, paling every day mundane problems into insignificance and gives a different perspective on life.

This morning when we woke at 6am I noted a general silence amongst my watch as we stumbled exhausted out of our bunks and went into our automatic routine of preparing to go on deck. The scent of Newton’s freshly baked bread pervaded the atmosphere providing temporary respite to the pungent odour of sweaty feet and trainers. On deck the spinnaker was flying and we all went into our positions for sailing, taking over from the previous watch who were tired and waiting patiently for us to come on deck.

Our watch leader, Tim Wright, put me in charge of trimming the spinnaker which involves giving orders to the grinder to wind on the winch whenever the sail starts to collapse or when there is a wind shift. Team Stelmar’s beautiful spinnaker breast was flying freely and proudly ahead like the little bird on her emblem, every now and then having fun frolicking and flirting with the wind making it hard work for the crew to control her. ‘Bear away’ I shouted to Tim Johnston on the helm when a huge wave knocked us off balance and the spinnaker flew right over to the side.

Then suddenly we encountered a huge black cloud that turned into a squall and a heavy downpour followed. Soaked to the skin I sat down on the deck and winced in pain – SBS (‘spotty botty syndrome’) is rife amongst sailors, who have to sit for long periods in wet or damp clothing on hard decks. Just another one of the trials we are facing at the moment I suppose but I know it will all have been worth it in the end.

Despite the rain the sea state was beautiful today with its deepest shades of blue waves and white horses rolling relentlessly in a true wind speed of 14 to 16 knots and a boat speed of between 8 and 11 knots. The wind was warm and I was truly happy to be there.

At lunchtime we all chatted about the day’s sailing whilst munching away on Mexican pancakes and dried fruit pieces and we discussed what could have been done better and made the boat go faster. We have a session like this once every day as we are very competitive as a team and like to try and improve things as much as possible and get the most out of our sailing.

Later on activity on board Stelmar increased considerably when we found a tear in the sail, which subsequently had to be mended. This is a frequent occurrence in sailing and one that provides a great deal of hard work in repairs. A few exhausted volunteers stayed up throughout the night to mend and repair providing a hubbub of activity both down below as well as the usual work on deck. But somehow we will find the strength to continue and after all we are now on our 24th day at sea and in approximately 10 days time we will arrive in Buenos Aires. Yet another adventure to look forward to.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 28th, 2004 at 8:18 am and is filed under Main Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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