Crew member on GBR7383R Visit Malta Puma
Today started with me being woken from my slumber with a cry of "Oops!" as the porridge oats were passed from Parker (Peter Brownsell) to today's breakfast chef Alan and up-ended in the bilges. We now have porridge on a slow cooker in the bilges and they should be ready by Monday. Not sure who was at fault, yesterday's chef for not putting them securely in a zip-lock bag, or Parker. We're blaming Parker.
Then, whilst balancing delicately on the slippery cabin floor on one foot and getting my boots on, Phil politely called out that the oncoming watch might like to know that it was raining on deck. We didn't! Anyway, with a skilful and tactical delay blaming the queue for the heads, we were able to postpone our appearance until the rain subsided. A result we all thought. Phil, Paul and Rob didn't seem to be so convinced...and Alan didn't mind as he was hiding away making breakfast. A little later and unbelievably as our watch ends and the sun runs away for the rain to welcome the others back. Poor guys.
The race itself has thrown up many challenges, mostly mental, which might not surprise my friends! Resuming the race after an unplanned diversion to Great Yarmouth costing us 20 hours and 150 miles on our competitors and summoning the mental energy necessary to push the boat on has not been easy. Fortunately, I am with a strong bunch here, everyone has dug deep to summon the tenacity, grit and determination to race on and supported each other and kept the banter flying. Just as well most of the team know each other from racing in Round Ireland in June and winning class.
New team members are always welcomed on-board with a welcoming smile, wide open arms and friendship. Paul and Rob are no exception, though what they thought they were doing when they joined the Round Ireland Puma refugees for this adventure(!), I have no idea. They have been fantastic in accepting our quirks, especially Philippe's and proved themselves worthy team members. It might be hard for you to realise the challenge posed for the residents when others are thrown into the mix on Visit Malta Puma. Perhaps the closest analogy would be to imagine having a new lodger in your home but with no chance of kicking them out for the next two weeks. Whilst there are 10 bunks on Puma, it's not a 5 bedroom home, has no place to hide and sharing the heads is all part of the game. Speaking of which, Lisa (Lady Penelope) is doing incredibly well with a team of hairy and smelly men on board as I have not heard her once scream "can you not just leave the bl**dy seat down?". Maybe that's a British thing???
We're now off the Shetland Isles, the most northerly point of the British Isles. Unlike 4 years ago when I did this race, we're going to see what the infamous Muckle Flugga looks like. It had just damn well be better be worth coming back, a sentiment shared between me and Brian. So two corners down after we've done the most easterly of Lowestoft and this one, and two to go, the most Westerly off Dingle Bay, SW Ireland and the most Southerly the Scilly Isles both a long way away yet. This is the first land we've seen since seeing Great Yarmouth (twice!). What happened to the North of England and Scotland?
The nights are getting a bit chilly but we have been blessed with brilliant clear moonlit skies at night and glorious sunshine during the day (apart from the other watch) and are smiling to ourselves when we hear stories of gales and foul weather on the south coast. Despite us smirking in your bad fortune please pray for us that we have fair weather and good winds as we continue round the track. It's certainly helped us continue are hard push to catch back up with the other yachts.
Speaking of which, I've just been chatting with Winsome, another boat in the race, who we're just overtaking. They have suffered their own misfortune sitting in a wind hole for a long time and losing hard earnt ground to bitter rivals. It happens to us all it seems. He offered his company for the rest of the race, however we had to decline as we have our own targets up ahead and must press on. We've promised to see him in Cowes later after the finish.
Skipper's just announced that it's a change of boxer shorts tonight for him and the next will be at Land's End. Like I just said, that's a long way away. He may well find himself on watch by himself!
Talking of Philippe, a couple of nights ago I was having an enjoyable sleep when I started dreaming about Marmite (yuk!) Did this mean I might like to try some? Unlikely I thought, as gratefully my mother had the commonsense to never introduce me to the foul stuff, so I shook myself awake from my nightmare and found Falle waving the lid of the 20kg marmite container under my nose. Bastard. Why we have to carry a lifetime's supply around on the boat does bemuse me, though I'm told it's necessary. So Alex, sorry but still no kisses after marmite on toast!
Brian's on heads duty today, which means sponging out, wiping down with anti-bac and putting some blue stuff down the pan. Whatever it is, it looks good and keeps us healthy. He doesn't seem to be complaining so I'm hoping he'll offer when it's my turn. Brian is also known as Schuy, as he is a demon on the helm at keeping the boat going fast and in the right direction during the cold nights. His sixth season with Sailing Logic and he's doing far better than Schumacher with his faltering return to Formula 1. There is even mention of him returning for a glorious 7th and doing Fastnet 2011.
I have just heard talk of pop off upstairs and wondered if they were talking about a well known Russian called Popov as he has been mentioned a few times in this race. On inquiring it seems it was a mention to the loss of the washing up bucket as it just "popped off" the back of the boat!
Other than that, there is plenty of time to think about life etc, way beyond thinking what the hell I'm doing out here again. That would be another essay. However, life is good and I'd rather be here than anywhere else (well maybe one other place Alex!!)
Everyone on-board sends their love and best wishes too all their friends following our drama and we look forward to receiving more messages from you all as we keep pressing on...
Must go as more sail changes beckon and it seems it's my turn to mop out the bilges. I thought I was mate and just sat at the nav table! Hmm... Porridge!
Mate, Visit Malta Puma