We put the Black Pearl back in the water on Halloween but it was too windy today to take her out for a spin. The wind has been blowing 45 knots today with the waves crashing over the sea wall and spraying my portable office. It has been blowing 20 plus from the South to southwest for most of the past 2 weeks and you know what direction we have to go when we start the leg to Cape Town…Southwest. Maybe there is a theory that if it blows from the southwest for three weeks straight, we might get some other direction on November 12th.
We had another long list of jobs to attend to last week after our two events in Vigo. The crew also had to attend a two-day safety course and a media training day. The Safety course was very valuable although we hope we wont need to employ anything we learned there. We did spend an afternoon in a swimming pool with our life rafts learning how to right them if they are upside down, how to get an injured crewmember in one, how to bail it out, how to collect rain water and a number of other things. The next day we learned how to stop bleeding from a deep wound, how to do CPR, and man overboard rescue. The good thing about these courses is not only do they teach you things but it makes you think about how you would handle certain situations. As a crew, we are going to spend next Monday go over our own safety plans onboard our boat.
Tomorrow is supposed to be very windy again in the morning, 35+ knots, then hopefully moderating in the afternoon. We will try to get out there and at least check some of our new sails. We are planning on doing some short course training for the inport race this Saturday. Thursday and Friday are supposed to be lighter and Saturday itself is supposed to be quite light with a possible seabreeze building. We’ll see.
We are really coming down the final stretch here. Freddy is getting all the food ready for the 12th, we are preparing the inside of the boat for storing all the food and gear that we need to take, the Volvo Race organization is scrutinizing all our safety gear while the measurement committee is making their checks. New sails need to be checked and sometimes modified. Spares are getting made up and put aside in a corner. The weather briefs are daily now as we have Wouter Verbraak onsite as our meteorologist for preparing us for this leg. This list goes on. It is impressive to see what goes into getting a boat ready to go to sea for 3 weeks and 6700 miles. I remember what a mountain of work it was 8 years ago and how much better we got at it as the race went on. The same will be the case this time. This will be the toughest leg to prepare for.
The logistics of these teams is no small chore either. Not only do we have to get 20 people down to Cape Town we have to get our whole base structure down there as well. Curt Oetking has been working on that when he hasn’t been working on our boat. Our Cape Town containers left last week and this whole set up that we have here in Spain will be sent directly to Melbourne. The items you need in every port have to be air-freighted.
As this race dates approach, the numbers of people around a team go up. Family members show up, sponsors show up, important dinners are more frequent, it is the “Event” factor coming into full gear. It is all good though. Being busy and challenged all the time is what makes life interesting and satisfying.
On Saturday, we shift modes. We are out of preparation mode and into race mode. Looking back, it has been intense and fast paced 5 months for The Pirates of the Caribbean. The team has done an excellent job of getting the boat this well prepared this quickly. Looking forward, the next 8 months will be very challenging for all of us but we will do amazing things together, travel to remote areas and create memories that will last a lifetime. Life doesn’t get better than that.