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RORC Madeira-Cowes Race: BLOG FROM RICHARD

THINGS ARE A LITTLE TRYING DOWN HERE, CAN YOU MAKE DO?


I looked at my watch lying in my bunk; the one lucky one to sleep on the leeward side — there are not enough bunks for everyone to sleep on the high-side. It said 0610.

That’s good, 2 hours sleep; that makes 9 since leaving Maderia. It is the third night and I will be on watch again at 0800. Must get up an extra 10 minutes as I am tired and will need my salopettes to go over my shorts for the next watch. Get up at 0730, that will make the difference, and, another hour and a bit of sleep. Fantastic.

“Richard. It’s 7-30. Time for breakfast.” said Eileen.

Bugger. Forgot breakfast. But it is only normally coffee. No problem, better get going. Body get moving. Get Moving. GET MOVING.

Can’t move. Blimey. I need energy and FOOD!

“Richard. Do you want coffee?” As the coffee is a fresh-ground coffee, that question on Puma tends to be like asking if the Pope is Catholic.

“No thanks, but muesli would be good”.

“Where is it?”

“In the cupboard behind where Alan is sleeping.”

“Okay. See what I can do”.

As Rachel’s blog said we had two days sailing, up-wind, in breezy, sunny conditions; probably described as a pleasant, up-wind slog, but conditions were changing.

My watch had gone to bed after supper at 8pm. All spirits were high.. Oh come on you on-watch guys and gals, you can drive better than that, as Puma started to slam into the waves. Inside the noise is magnified like a drum by the hull, and you are physically thrown around in your bunk. Sleep is difficult. Their driving and the slamming seemed to get worse and worse. A quick check at midnight with the other 3 on my watch confirmed that between 4 of us, we had a total of zero minutes sleep over the last 4 hours!

When we got on deck, we discovered why the other watch was driving so badly. They were not, it was an ugly confused sea with 20+ knots of wind. Here we go again, son of Ushant! It was the turn of the other watch to go to the sleep free zone. It worked, our driving was just as good/bad, and they got no sleep, even after Philippe had made the decision to throttle back to protect Puma. These conditions explain why I am so happy with 2 hours sleep!

“Here is your muesli and how much milk do you want?”

“And here is the spoon”.

I looked aghast as I was hand a teaspoon to eat a big bowl of muesli, drowned in milk.

“Is there a bigger spoon please?” I asked.

“Things are a little trying down here, can you make do please?” said Eileen.

I looked at Eileen, held into the galley area with a strop attached to the cooker. The cupboard with the spoons leaning towards her, just out of reach, its contents visible like a bunch of little school children at the gates of a school, desperate to spend their pocket money at the tuck shop. That would be where Philippe was sat studying the latest weather and position data for his crew briefing at 8.

I looked around the cabin at the rest of the watch. Alan had just managed to get one leg into his salopette and was struggling with a position out of the game “Twister” to get the next leg in. Becki was dressed, with salopettes that any street kidz would have been proud of — a crotch around her knees, her straps undone due to sunburn on the shoulders gained whilst preparing Puma in Maderia. But she was trying to work out how to extricate her lifejacket from underneath a pile of wet sails, crew bags, and Alan who had now fallen on this pile. Mairead was stood by the heads door. Pleased with her achievement of getting from the back of the boat to the heads, was now trying to work out how to open the door, which was on varying 20 to 35% angle uphill, with a pitch as Puma rode the waves, or dropped when the helmsman did not notice a “hole” hidden behind a wave. Eileen had previously decided to demonstrate her break-dancing skills when she flew across the cabin. Coffee pot in one hand and skipper’s coffee in the other. Philippe grabbed, the coffee cup and proudly went on deck to announce that Eileen had fallen over, but had not spilt a drop of his coffee. He didn’t mention that the coffee pot was open and that a shot of hot coffee had hit my bare leg and straight down my boot. No burn but ouch.

On reflection “A teaspoon will be fine, thanks.”.

The next 10 minutes was a blur of little teaspoon on a mission to empty the bowl so that I could be on-time for watch.

I never did put my salopettes on, though I was reminded twice more during the day the secondary purpose of foulies, a protective layer against food substances and hot liquids split whilst eating, or whilst cooking, or by a fellow crew member performing either of the 2 previous functions.

I arrived on deck, delivering two coffees to encounter an in-bound bunk interceptor, Brian, whose face looked as if the last watch had been as tiresome as the sea state. He brushed one of the coffees as he homed in on his favourite bunk. Hot coffee down right leg and boot. again

And cooked lunch was cancelled when the water heating up to cook the pasta decided to leave the saucepan and dance across the cabin towards the nav station. Right leg and right boot AGAIN. Fortunately not hot enough to burn.

Life on Puma can be difficult and messy (all senses of the word) at times. It is hard to describe how difficult some of the simplest tasks can be or the state that we live in when the conditions are difficult. These tend to be soon forgotten when the good times arrive. As I write, 24 hours later the sea state and wind has calmed. During the night we went to full main and no 1. We have now changed to no. 2 and the boat log says we are doing 7.2 knots. Philippe has informed us that we are holding Pen Azen on the water, which is great. Despite the messy conditions, we are all having so much fun. We have already had some great sailing and, with 825 miles to go, there will undoubtedly be a lot more good times to come.
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