State of play, one week in

Sun 2 Dec 2018 22:36
Update on how the chicken went down. I think it was well summarised by Skip’s comment: ‘it’s amazing how when you are outdoors food tastes so much better, for example, if we had this in a restaurant it would be very ordinary, but now, it tastes ok.’ Thanks dad. Fortunately no serious bouts of food poisoning seem to have arisen so I’m going to chalk that one up as a win.

As of 1pm yesterday, we are exactly one week into this race; I mean cruise!

So what does one week mean? We’ve sailed 1290 miles at an average of 7.7 knots. Internet has been limited to a couple of emails (each of which take about ten minutes to send). My step count is down to about 200 a day (hoping to get to 10,000 for the trip). We’ve gone from completely chilled about when we get to St. Lucia to fanatically tracking each boat that appears in our sights and in one particular skippers case (who will remain nameless ...) spending an hour in front of the ‘sat nav’ pouring over all the information we have over each boat and establishing how we can make marginal gains.

In terms of food, the fresh food stock has been diminished considerably. Our hammock of fruit (yes it is literally a hammock strung out in the fore cabin) is down to six heavily blackened bananas, three very suspect avocados, seven apples (edible if you can avoid the heavy bruising) and ten oranges that after five minutes of examining looked fine but I can’t say I’m overly convinced. Our once packed fridge, that would have been the envy of most restaurants, now resembles the fridge of a first year university student (two packs of cheddar, half an eaten kiwi, some rotting tomatoes and a few cans of coke).

The reality of raiding our three cupboards worth of tinned meat, fruit and veg is slowly starting to dawn on us. I dread to picture us on our final night before reaching St. Lucia, scurvy* fully set in, as we fight over who gets the last piece of tinned ham.

That said, the fresh food is definitely going out with a bang. Today we were treated to the ‘fish of the day’ for lunch. We managed to catch some flying fish overnight thanks to some highly skilled fishing (we found them on the deck this morning). I know what you’re wondering, there is a reason that no one has ever seen a flying fish served in a restaurant, but, maybe due to our sleep deprivation or the idea of soon cracking open a tin of spam, they were quite delicious.

Today was also ‘call to loved ones’ day. Each of us got our phone call to someone back home, strictly timed to five minutes or less. Given our knack for planning, we obviously hadn’t warned anyone and I almost started to feel sorry for the people we supposedly cared so much about. Missed calls from unknown foreign numbers started around lunchtime (I would have just screened them) and when the unfortunate loved one did pick up they were subjected to a maximum five minute call (or 2.5 minutes per sister) with a connection that sounded like we were calling from Pyongyang, before being told quite bluntly, sorry I need to go (as if we have some urgent meeting to get to); I guess I’ll have to wait another week and a half to find out whether my baby nephew has started walking yet.

The set up to place these calls didn’t make the whole process any easier either. The satellite phone resembles an oversized Nokia 3310, with a thick cable taped (we try to ensure that all electrical connections are very secure) to it to get better signal. This thee metre cable then winds its way around poor Profs cabin (which is only a metre wide anyway). The effect is a rather ridiculous looking landline with the user having to balance precariously in exactly the right place to ensure the tape doesn’t come off.

This small telephone box, combined with the rigidly enforced time limit, made the whole thing feel closer to a call from prison than a happy call to our nearest and dearest. However, despite these prison conditions and a new found focus on things you can eat from a can, morale remains high among the crew, after all, only 1500 miles to go.

*the annoying thing about having a doctor on board is that it was quickly pointed out to me that scurvy takes three months to develop. I hope you aren’t as well informed.