Chuck Hawley describes conditions on board the giant cat

Position at 0800 GMT: 43deg 15.790N 53 deg 03.280W Speed 12.7 kts

Message received at Mission Control from PlayStation crewman Chuck Hawley: “This continues to be a dream come true. PlayStation is zooming towards England at between 14 and 30 knots. A low pressure trough continues to make our chances at setting a TransAt record iffy at best.

“The crew is wonderful, international, and fun. We have Aussies, Kiwis, an Englishman, and a scattering of Yanks on board. Watches are four hours, with 3-4 crew on each. The retiring watch becomes ‘standby’, which means you can’t take off your foulies or get in a berth, but you can sleep until the next jibe or sail change. While we have all furling sails forward, the largest ones have to be put on and off, which is a Herculean task. Reefing the main is also something to be taken very seriously. Remember, the main weighs as much as a VW Beetle, so hoisting it with manpower is challenging. I should point out that it is challenging for me, but the crew takes it in stride. While none of them is going to give to give Arnold a run for the next bodybuilding title, each of them has great stamina, and continue to grind with winches while I cough and hack.

“If the world knew about life below decks on PlayStation, there would be a protest against it as a violation of human rights. OK, it is not that bad, but the hulls are only six or so feet wide, which allows barely enough room for berths and a passageway. Since the boat is not well insulated, it “rains” inside in all conditions (ed: from condensation). The berths are comfortable, though, although the vessel’s creaks and groans are omnipresent. The daggerboard creaks, the winches creak, the blocks creak, and, as it turns out, carbon fibre is not a good noise insulator.

“Right now there is fog surrounding us with 100 yds visibility. We are making a modest 19 knots of boat speed in force five winds. While the temperature is not cold, the constant breeze and 100% humidity has everyone on deck dressed in Musto HPX two-piece and one-piece FWG. Fleece and thermals round out the wardrobe. The competition for who has the best gloves rages on; some prefer ski or expedition gloves, while some prefer fleece. Finding the right combination of dexterity, warmth, and waterproofness is key. (Note to self: create ultimate cold weather sailing glove.)

“Stan (Honey) and Steve (Fossett) share nav duties, and what a great navigation station they have. It is perpetually warm in the starboard hull just from the myriad instruments. This message is being sent via the Rock Hill Sailmail station, but there are about 10 alternative ways of sending e-mail. Weather information comes in minute by minute, with faxes showing the location of pressure contours, ice (yes, we are trying to avoid ice around eastern Canada), and the Gulf Stream.

“That’s it for now, time to change yet another sail.” Chuck