"There she was, low, white, and implacably threatening," David Scully describing the sighting of their first ice berg as they head further south
Today we are ambling east along Route 48. Our drive south under blast reacher yesterday has hooked us up with the heading shift we were looking for, so the reacher has been doused in favour of the solent, and we are making good time toward Kerguelen Island. Seas are moderate, and although the day no longer has the sun we enjoyed on my dawn watch, the overcast is not heavy, and visibility is good.
We were thinking about taking another bite south, in search of more wind, when Nic spotted the first berg, broad on the starboard bow. There she was, low, white, and implacably threatening. Half an hour later, we passed another one.
Our enthusiasm for a more southerly course is, for the moment, muted. There may be a time to edge further south of the Kerguelens, but we will have to clear these bergs first. Hitting a growler at 30kts would not make for a good day!
While the living is easy, I would like to introduce you to the crew. We have skipper/adventurer Steve Fossett, who is hanging pretty tough for a 59 year old. Always on deck for manoeuvres, his exploits as an endurance athlete have prepared him well for grinding up the main, and the decision making capability developed in his options trading career comes in handy.
Guillermo Altadill is the second man on my watch. This inscrutable Catalan combines a lot of RTW experience, an inexhaustible supply of garlic and olive oil and a subtle sense of humour, with a deft touch on the wheel. Also on our watch is Paul van Dyke, better known as Whirly. An acerbic New Englander, Whirly looks after the sails, although he shows them no mercy with his hot driving style. Last but not least, I have the long suffering Mark Featherstone. Mark toils untiring at keeping the gensets running, the watermakers pumping, and the bilges dry. I do not know if it is his 20 years as a lifeboat crew, or his previous career as a hairdresser that gives him such an equable temperament, but if it is bleeding the diesel in a gale, or making sail, Mark is always ready.
Brian Thompson, well known as a racing skipper, leads the next watch. Brian is totally at home in this environment, and to see him take the wheel is like watching a child open a particularly good present. He is supported by our peripatetic poet, photographer, and natural philosopher, Nick Leggatt. Nick is a South African who joined us in La Ciotat almost two years ago, where he was restoring and old 12 Metre. Nic looks after the deck hardware, the posting of the daily limerick, and the filing of photos of life on board. Damian Foxall, the Celtic Tornado, is also on this watch. Damian is a bundle of kinetic energy, who is constantly at work, checking, improving, splicing, and cooking.
Jacques Vincent may have raced around the world more than anyone else, ever. Whitbread’s, Volvo’s, maxicats, Open 60s, if it floats and goes fast, Jacques has sailed it. A dynamic driver and skilled rigger, he has a wealth of experience and a cheerful nature that make him a huge asset to the crew. Iron Mike Beasley, Kiwi boatbuilder and strong man, is a handy fellow to have on board when things are going wrong. He is also a deft hand in the galley, where he and fellow New Zealander, Fraser Brown, can often be found, adding water to things to eat. Fraser’s deadpan humour can sometimes catch you off guard, but his driving and boat handling are always right on. Finally, the last minute addition to the crew, Justin Slattery. Justin joined the crew the day before departure, having accepted our invitation 48 hours before. A fearless mast climber, rigger and helmsman, we got lucky with this one.
And Adrianne. The navigator picked to fill Stan Honey’s spot when Stan ran out of time, she works tirelessly to keep us on track and moving fast. She is doing a great job of picking the routes which give us the good VMC while not overstressing the boat.