Friday, 6 March 2009

VOR: PUMA LEG FIVE DAY 20 QFB: received 05.03.09 0903 GMT

by Rick Deppe

We're getting a bit of a reprieve today. This race seems to be a constant cycle of getting the snot beaten out of you for an unspecified number of days followed by a couple of days to clean yourself up, lick your wounds and prepare as best you can for the next ass- wuppin: because it's coming.

When it’s game on, things start to fall apart pretty quickly and it’s the galley that seems to get it the worst. It’s up forward on our boat, so when the boat jumps off a wave there is a multiplying factor to the amount of movement up there ... think of a see-saw and the amount of movement between the seat at the end and the seat nearest the pivot point..... Add to this the fact that you don't see the waves coming and therefore have no chance to brace for the impact. As well as the potential for a huge mess, it’s also quite dangerous. Add the final ingredient - food - and bingo; you now have a recipe for disaster... no pun intended.

It starts slowly with the odd little spill here and there - it’s impossible not to. Usually the guys are pretty conscientious about clean up, but its dark and you’re bouncing around so maybe a 90% job, and the grime slowly starts to build. Then it happens ... a big spill, let’s say a half bowl of greasy beef and noodles straight in the bilge..... You're on hands and knees doing the best you can to collect everything up, but the grease is starting to spread, a call for some help up on deck. While you’re away, someone unknowingly steps in the area of the spill..... And then before you know it, the galley has reached a tipping point beyond which there is no coming back until the weather eases up. Imagine little incidents like this happening over and over and you start to get the idea. After two or three days of tough weather the galley can start to look like a major environmental disaster area. Noodles stuck in every corner of the bilge, a thin layer of grease on every hand hold, the trash bag overflowing. There's no paper towel until tomorrow and you still can’t find the spray-n-wipe.

But not today! The whole galley area has had a major going over and is positively sparkling; everything is squeaky clean as they say. The ever-vigilant Rob Salthouse gave it the whole soap-down this morning and I came in this afternoon and did the disinfectant treatment. Rob also gave our failing stove a full service. We haven't had any problems with it yet, but a little preventative maintenance never hurts. Imagine a stove failure during our next heavy air upwind session ...... coming soon. The whole thing is now held together securely with steel wire and should see us to Rio.

Volvo Ocean Race

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