A swim in the Atlantic does wonders for crew morale. Dee Caffari, skipper of Global Challenge yacht Imagine it. Done, reports
Date 30 May 2005
Location East of Bermuda
Heading 310 degrees
Yet again the threat of being becalmed loomed over us all day yesterday. The sun shone from its sunrise around 0500hrs boat time and created that perfect, hot condition for all to get sunburnt very easily. Fortunately when going so slow the weight is better distributed on the low side of the boat and this happened to be in the shade of our headsails. Some respite, despite the ferocity of the sun.
It was at lunch time that I noticed the boat speed was reading 0.00knots, and the wind speed was reading 1.0knots which couldn’t even effect the sails, let alone power the yacht along. Morale was at a low ebb as, yet again, the crew were faced with the thankless task of trying to keep the yacht moving in no breeze and minimise movement whilst trying to gain miles on the leading yachts. A very frustrating environment indeed.
So when the watch change happened and everyone was to be on deck for a change over period, I threw some swimmer lines over the side of the yacht and declared it swim time. I remained at the helm whilst most of the crew threw themselves over the side of the yacht and swam alongside it. There were a core of about four crew that remained onboard, so in the worst case scenario I had enough hands around to go and get the swimmers if need be.
Morale soared and the camera was used to take some great shots from the water and as they all said, it is not everyday that you get to swim in the middle of the North Atlantic, 1,000 miles from the nearest land. This crazy half hour was probably the best thing I could have done for crew spirits on yet another becalmed day.
One hour after the swim time, we finally had a breath of breeze that started to move the yacht and then it built all afternoon, to leave us making a good speed in the right direction. But the best part of the day was as the first night watch were on deck, they saw clearly the masthead lights of two yachts ahead.
So not only did we enjoy the day but we may have made some miles on those ahead as well. Clearly, the message is; we should play harder!
An interesting aspect of having the crew in the water around the yacht, apart from the fun of it all, was the realisation for them of how big the yacht truly is when you are in the water. Also how fast she moves away even with 0.00 knots on the log. They then thought about a man overboard scenario and realised how it must be the worst sight ever, to watch the yacht sail away from you, not even be sure if you had been seen going over the side.
So we are all in agreement that not being clipped on and going over the side is not an option.