Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Brad Jackson driving at sunset, on board Ericsson 4, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Jules Salter (navigator)
'..drawing lines on a map just to show I am there....'
Paraphrasing The Stranglers’ song Bear Cage just about sums up my final futile days on this leg. I have almost lost track of the number of days out here, one moves seamlessly into another. Progress has been slow, weather maps and GRIB files in the southwest Atlantic make part sense and when you expect a gain you make a loss and vice versa.
The situation in the 600 hundred or so miles to Rio is complex. Light wind areas, small developing areas of low pressure and boats spread everywhere. All you can do is try and make sense of the six-hourly weather information and draw lines and amend charts to the wind readings we get from the other four boats we receive at the three-hourly sked times.
Inventing weather is 'bad science' and expecting to know more than the men and women in beige at the weather centres is pretty dumb, but you have to try and do something. If your hokum theory lines up, you can make a plan for the next few hours. Usually the plan works for about two hours then the wind shifts and drops and you are back to square one, trying to conjure up another scenario from your on board observations.
About the only thing that doesn't change much is that the miles to finish still looks a long way....the scale is of a typical premier ocean race like a Fastnet, Bermuda or Hobart....and time is running down (as is the food and diesel for power to make water) to get to Rio to have any length time to sort the boat and oneself out.
The boat certainly smells like a bear cage and the hairy, grumpy, dominant males in this cage seem to be starting to exhibit some tendencies of bears with sore heads. There seems to be a lot more growling, patrolling up and down and scavenging anything they can from the food bag now. A teddy bear’s picnic it is not.
Volvo Ocean Race