Monday, 27 October 2008

VOR - PUMA LEG ONE DAY 15 QFB: received 25.10.08 2126 GMT

by Rick Deppe - MCM (Media Crew Member)

Today I'm going to write about my earplugs because they are great and I love them.. A lot. They are yellow and hot pink and the two colours are blended to look like wavy gravy ice cream - they are about 30mm long and take the shape of a bell. They work by scrunching up the thin end i.e. the top of the bell - pop them into your ear and let the foam expand to fill the ear...

A Volvo 70 is an unbelievably loud environment to put yourself in; it’s so bad that most of the time down below its hard to talk at a normal volume to someone sitting right next to you. The noise falls into three categories, the constants, the unexpected and the background.

Top of the list for the constants would be the mid-range whine that is nearly always there at anything above around 9 knots of boat speed, I grew up in Yorkshire on top of a hill and the noise reminds of being a kid and lying in bed listening to the wind whipping around our house. The thing is it's not the wind its the rudder and its quite soothing in some ways.

Next would be the water rushing by he hull. This sounds 'to me’ like the receding part of a wave that has just crashed on a pebble beach ( small pebbles) without the crash and as a constant. The noise from the bow I would say falls into both categories - it’s constant but you never quite know when it’s coming.

Right now we are doing 16 knots of boat-speed in about 14.9knots of wind and the sea is pretty normal looking (non technical term). I'm sitting at the back of the boat inside and it sounds like being at the mouth of a cave with someone way down inside hitting a big huge drum every 5 to 10 seconds..... Woomf....... wooomf...... Other times when it’s rough, it’s really a whole body experience rather than a noise. If someone were to be teleported onto the boat in rough conditions, I think even an experienced sailor would think the boat was about to self destruct after the first two waves they heard.... Beam me up Scotty, there's no life down here! ...

OK, let’s keep going with the constants. This boat is jammed full of machinery: water-makers, canting keel hydraulics, generator etc and it seems like something is always running. So on top of the very organic sounds of the boat going through the water, we also have to deal with all these crazy modern world noises.

The ‘worst of the worst’ list of unexpected noises is easily topped by the spinnaker sheet on the winch - you know that fingernails on a blackboard thing that people always use as a way to get your attention. Well that wouldn't even register on this boat, I'm talking about a noise so vile you can actually feel your teeth starting to rattle out of their sockets. A noise that you hear deep down in your joints and bones, when the spinnaker is up you know its coming but its always a very unpleasant surprise that you never get used to.

Background noise to me would be the human noises, footsteps on deck, crew talking to one another.... ‘trim’... ‘hold’.... ‘check stay on 6inches’... ‘did we move ahead on them’.... It’s low level and always focused on making the boat go faster.
The more I write this piece, the more noises I'm hearing all over... I never mentioned all the squeaks, the groans, the thuds, the cracks… oh the cracks -makes me shudder...maybe I need another category?

I can feel the foam starting to expand, it’s like a huge metal door to a vault slowly closing and really quite hypnotic but it happens fast.... almost like a noise in itself.... sqquuwwsshhhhh....maybe now I can sleep..... I really do love my 10c wavy gravy earplugs.

Volvo Ocean Race

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