Skipper Ian Walker reports on the frustrating final days of leg 5
Green Dragon’s skipper Ian Walker reports from the South American coast, as he negotiates his crew through light breeze and an adverse current:
“Three days ago we had a pretty solid ETA in Rio of the 25 March (Wednesday). We had a fast route according to the weather models.
Next the wind heads too much to lay the Falklands and we lose precious hours having to tack through the islands. Following this a high pressure bubbles up right in our path and just behind that of the leaders. Negotiating this cost us a day.
Still things were OK as we sailed upwind looking for northwesterlies and a new low coming off the South American shore. This arrived last night as predicted but instead of bringing 15-knot winds and a route through the next high pressure, it brought lightning and no wind. Now we are left with virtually no wind and none forecast for three days. We also have adverse current. We have 1000 miles to go and my most optimistic outlook right now is an ETA of six days. At times like this the race becomes secondary to survival. The fundamentals of our life aboard are power to make water and run the boat’s systems and food.
We have been closely monitoring our power consumption and diesel reserves (the batteries are charged off the generator which runs on diesel) and we are confident this will not be an issue. To make sure, we will consciously save power by closing down non-essential systems.
As for food the picture is not so good. We started with 40 days and a week ago we split some food packs down to make another two days of food rations. This would give us 42 or another three days from now. We may well need at least seven days and three into seven doesn’t go. When guys are tired and hungry, there is nothing like food to create friction between them.
As of today, to prevent any arguments over who has eaten what, we are splitting the food 11 ways and leaving each individual to manage their own food. We are already hungry and it will get worse – simple as that. That is life – nobody is going to die.
On a brighter note we are currently moving at six knots pointing nearly at Rio, which is the best VMC we have made for 12 hours and it is a beautiful sunny day. What more could you ask for?”