Yesterday I worked on securing most of the contents of the boat from being thrown about in rough weather. A nor’easter was blowing as I made my preparations, but Kiwi Spirit is safely docked at my home overlooking the City of St. Augustine. But safety is an issue. I have added padding to the front of the navigation desk (my son Alan broke two ribs while sitting at his desk and colliding with a whale). I have also placed netting down the center of the salon to help break a fall should the boat lie on its side after a broach (loss of directional control, usually caused by a wave hitting the stern and spinning the boat around, then rolling while the next wave hits broadside). While the boat was at Lyman Morse having its final refit, we added an extra safety rail across the stern and hand grips along the side of the coach house and coach deck. At my navigation desk, I have affixed a safety harness like that worn by airline personnel when they sit facing you – a four-point contact – and I have a helmet to wear as well as a padded vest. I am getting ready. Then today I read this piece in Scuttlebutt:
Storm Batters Global Race Fleet - Injured Crew Evacuated
“A violent storm has been battering the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet today as it heads through the Indian Ocean from South Africa into the notorious 'Roaring Forties' in the Southern Ocean. Winds in excess of 50 knots have been experienced by some of the fleet, punctuated by hurricane force gusts in places. Injuries have been experienced across the fleet with two crew members requiring medical attention… with a suspected broken upper right arm and another... suffering a calf puncture."
“The twelve identical British registered 70 foot ocean racing yachts are carrying 240 international amateur crew, each under the command of a professional skipper, on the world's longest ocean race; it is now 10,000 miles out of London on its 40,000 miles, 11 month marathon. The fleet left Cape Town on 4 November and is expected into Albany, Western Australia towards the end of the month. The unique event ends back in London in July next year.“
Comment: The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is a multiple boat race with multiple crew on each boat – about ten persons. They stop several times to change crews and to do repairs etc. They will, as the piece above says, take about 11 months – I will take about 4 months, so a very different event as I am not allowed to stop. So my safety preparations are very important as there will be no one to assist me in the event of a traumatic or other medical event. In addition to the usual medical kit, I have air splints, a cervical collar and other gear that I do not intend to use. Up until now I have had four goals:
1. Be the oldest to have ever circumnavigated, non-stop and non-assisted
2. Break the existing solo record of 150 days from Bermuda back to Bermuda
3. Be the first to complete the voyage entirely green – no use of hydrocarbons
4. Set a new record from St. Augustine, Florida back to St. Augustine, Florida
But now I have a new one:
5. To return home safely! This is now goal number one.
The countdown continues…