Humphreys is taking it carefully and safely, as befits the tail-end boat in the Vendée Globe
It’s been eight days since I departed Cape Town. I’ve covered 2,000 miles and managed to get within 100 miles of the back boat Benefic. The leaders have continued their blistering pace, but not without damage and in one case retirement.
It took me longer than I thought to recover my stride. With Joe Seeten’s Arcelor Dunkerque damaging both rudders within a week of each other, you can perhaps understand my caution. My focus is to work my way up through the fleet, but safely. If I suffer a major problem 500 miles behind the last boat, I know realistically that no-one will be in a position to come to my assistance.
That thought alone was one of the difficulties with leaving Cape Town, and even now still lingers in my mind. I have become increasingly vigilant during this time. Like a night watchman, I patrol Hellomoto checking for anything unusual and abnormal. The smallest job is dealt with immediately and as such the boat is immaculate.
My first Southern Ocean depression has been and gone. It carried me forward nearly 1,500 miles as I hooked into its forward northerly front. I know that Hellomoto wanted more and I could have pushed harder, but my mind was not ready. Sitting constantly at speeds of 20kts is not just stressful on the body as the boat launches and lurches from crest to crest, it is also tough on the mind. It’s so different in the Atlantic, but down here it takes a special amount of courage to keep your foot on the pedal for days and weeks at a time on your own.
Yesterday I passed my 40th day at sea, a day more than my previous longest period. Then, it was with a full crew onboard LG FLATRON in the BT Global Challenge, as we raced from Buenos Aires to Wellington, NZ four years ago. It sounds a long time, and certainly it beats my previous 16 days alone, but to put it into perspective and to help me stay focused on the next 40 days, this period is a mere blip in the time spent on this campaign.
In fact, its hard to believe that after nearly five years of preparation for this race I have just 55-60 days left until it finishes. You can begin to understand how Moitissier felt as he closed in on the end of the first single-handed, non-stop Golden Globe race and decided that he didn’t want to finish, instead choosing to continue on for another lap around the planet!
Not that I’m planning to sail past Les Sables. That finish line is so clearly etched on my mind that I have even written one word above the doorway onboard Hellomoto…”FINISH” Christmas Day is one week away and I have just discovered in my food box some decorations and a huge Christmas tree card made by the Cubs in Plymouth, which is now stuck up next to my bunk. This will be my third Christmas at sea, but my first alone.
The isolation and loneliness of this race has not affected me, mainly because of the constant messages of support, the net meetings, audio conferences and regular calls made to shore. For this I have to say a huge thank you to my sponsor, Motorola who have given me the opportunity and the communications ability to be “here” and at the same time “there”. Cheers and have a very happy Christmas wherever you are!