Wednesday, 24 December 2008

VOR: PUMA LEG THREE DAY 6 QFB: received 18.12.08 0956 GMT

by Kenny Read, skipper

The Bay of Bengal. Bringing these boats here for this leg is like using a Ferrari for a Tractor Pull. Slogging upwind, tacking on every shift for days. In fact, for one 24-hour period we had 51 squalls come through bringing rain, shift, no shift, wind, no wind etc. You get my drift. Mix in the heat and humidity and you have a real glamorous sailing spot at this moment in time.

Great news is the conditions are evening out and the squalls are far less frequent. In fact the fleet is lining up and starting to leg it out for the northwest corner of Indonesia and Sumatra. We were joking on the rail that every place we now talk about - Sumatra for example - we have never even used the words before never mind been here. Wild new world for boat racing.

The good news is that things are starting to at least normalise out here a bit. The bad news is it is about to get really strange once we enter the Strait of Malacca. This is the channel between Indonesia to the south and Malaysia to the north. Here the fun really begins. It is one of, if not the, most used commercial shipping lane in the world. There is an Indonesian navy who is rumoured to stop random boats and request fees to pass through. Potential outright piracy. And supposedly heaps of fishing boats, which may be lit or unlit, with lines or nets. Let the fun begin.

On board the fine yacht, we have gotten back in touch with the leaders and are now running fourth. Quite a number of changes on this leg. Just when a pattern would start to develop everything would change. We currently have Telefónica Black just behind us and Ericsson 3 to weather- both within sight and, as usual, it is full on. Never a dull moment.

On board we are surviving the plastic fork situation barely. [The forks for eating food break rather too readily!] Thanks to all the second graders’ suggestions for what to use. The problem is that not a single one of their suggestions is actually aboard the boat. Like soup can tops and aluminium foil. Great ideas if we were on a normal boat in normal conditions. One small problem that may be related to our plastic fork salutation or not is that a pretty good case of diarrhoea has overcome the boat, to the point that our toilet pump broke from overuse! Talk about a disaster. Fortunately, Dr Falcone is on the case and hopefully we can shake this before the entire team takes their turn. The stern railing is getting a lot of use these days...if you get my drift.

The questions are starting to come to the nav station a little more frequently concerning our projected ETA. We have several crewmembers flying home to be with families and several of us have families who will anxiously be in Singapore hoping to celebrate the holidays with all the sailors out here on the water. Hope the Straits are kind to us. That is all I want for a Christmas present this year.

Volvo Ocean Race

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