Since leaving Airlie Beach some six days ago I have been pondering how to write my next blog and have been somewhat stuck. But this evening as I carry out my navigator’s duties (these include such exotic treats such as cleaning the heads and emptying the bilges if you recall from one of my previous blogs!) I realise that there has been one major factor affecting all of our lives over the last 6 days – the sun.
It is sweltering out here. We are, inevitably, bobbing around in yet another wind hole in the Coral Sea some 575 miles to the east of the tip of Australia heading for the Solomon Islands on our way to Sanya in China. The weather forecast was for us to be in the middle of a Tropical Storm but gradually this has been downgraded to a Tropical Depression and, yes you guessed it, today it turns out to be our rather too constant companion, a wind hole! Still, all the other boats are in the same position and we are not last! (Well they were as I edit this on the following morning!)
However, back to the sun.
On this leg the sun will, in reality, rule our lives. Casting aside its effect on weather patterns, it is omnipresent and is giving the crew a tough time both on deck and below but also delivering some magnificent experiences.
The temperatures on deck have constantly been in the upper 30s during the day and at times in the 40s. In the Nav Station this afternoon it was 36 degrees! Now, in the early hours of the morning it is still in the upper 20s. We did invest in a beach umbrella at the last stop and we proudly fly this over the helm station which gives a modicum of respite despite being somewhat surreal! Funnily enough this spot has become rather a favourite for the crew and jostling for space under its shade is the norm with little regard for seniority!
Elsewhere on the boat there is absolutely no shade and the bottles of factor 50 sun cream are used regularly and faces appear smothered in white, reminiscent of Victorian ladies with their arsenic tainted makeup. Good suntans we may be developing on arms, legs and faces but when wearing a life jacket we do develop somewhat strange back and chest patterns!
Below deck the boat is now a sauna, sleep is difficult and mattress covers are essential. Luckily we have two fans in the galley and they do provide relief for the ‘mothers’. We are able to have the sail locker hatch open when in light winds and this has become a favourite place to sleep – bodies appear in the saloon, corridor floors and the deck as the bunk areas are rather stifling. Later on when the hatches and windows have to be closed as the winds increase it will get much worse.
Needless to say everyone is ‘glowing’ – profusely! This is not only uncomfortable but it quickly becomes a hygiene problem as everything we wear is soaking wet with the inevitable heat rashes and ‘yachtie botties’ developing. We all have to take great care with our personal hygiene as you might imagine and a major part of this is to change clothes as regularly as practical. Much to the skipper’s disgust the boat, at times, has looked like a Chinese laundry! No one comments on the new odours that permeate through the boat – in practice we do not really notice them. Having a sea water shower off the back of the boat (with a pint or two of fresh water to rinse) is heaven! Shower is a bit of an exaggeration as in reality it is a bucket!
But those are the downsides and the sun provides many wonderful sights out here on the ocean.
Where else will you be able to see a vivid 360 degree sunset? A few evenings ago we were completely surrounded by orange and it lasted for some 20 minutes.
We experienced a lunar eclipse last night – unfortunately I was asleep and missed it!! I understand this might have been a ‘blue moon’?
Because we have low ambient light the stars are an absolute carpet of twinkling beauty on most nights and the Milky Way is magnificent.
The clarity of light out here is marvellous and great for taking pictures- hopefully I will be able to share some with you when we reach port. And at night the brilliant moon helps the crew manage the boat without head torches.
As a parting shot I do wonder why mankind does not make more use of this phenomenal natural resource?
Hope everyone at home is having a good winter and you aren’t too cold!
Jodie, Katie, Jonny, Richie, Jessica and Zac – I send you all my love and hope my adventures inspire you to make the most of every moment in your own lives!
Six Pack, Mikal and Stella, and all other followers, get the bubbles on ice – one big party is required on my return!
P.S. from Mary. Did you watch The Race of Your Life on Sky Sports Arena HD last night at 7pm? If not its worth a watch and shows some amazing footage of the first 3 legs of the race. It is due to be repeated on Sky Sports Arena, Action and Mix several times over the next week.