Work to the VOR yacht Black Pearl is almost complete. Training starts again next week

Most of the Pirate crew arrived in Cape Town yesterday to join the shore team, some of whom have been here since the 25 November. We have a great set up here again thanks to the help of Pescanova. Our boat is inside a purpose built shed with all of our containers around it forming an operations base which has been named, “Pirate City” by the locals. In fact, we even have our own address; Pirate City, North Wharf V & A Waterfront, Cape Town.

Since 14 November, work on the Black Pearl has been non-stop save for about four days to transport the boat to Cape Town. The repairs we had to make were extensive and subsequently, last Saturday, our designers have recommended additional reinforcements in the keel ram support structure, which have added to the list. Additional to these larger repairs, we had our own list of typical work like continuing to waterproof the boat, fine tuning the workings of the galley, improving the reliability of the instruments, reducing friction in sheaves, etc. We have to submit a list to the race committee of all work to be done during the stopovers and today we received the list of work being done by all boats. This is mostly just the major jobs but still the length of list is impressive. I think we are going to have to increase our maintenance budget.

We are pushing hard to wind up the major work by Sunday and put the Pearl back in the water. Our plan is to go for a harbour sail on Monday to make sure everything works and then go for an offshore sail on Tuesday-Thursday. We want to put the boat through a thorough check out in all conditions before leaving for Melbourne.

Yesterday the Ericsson guys gave us the low-down on what happened with their keel during the leg. It is a bit more of problem than they thought originally and since we have the same hydraulic system, we will be doing a precautionary modification to our system as well.

All in all, we are in pretty good shape. All the teams have a lot of work to do and thanks to the time-savings of flying the boat; we are relatively ahead of the group with all the work that needs to be done.

Additional to the good set up for the boat, we have very nice living situation just across from Pirate City and we have our food service within Pirate City so that is very convenient as well.

We have one new crew member joining the team here in Cape Town. Anthony Merrington (AUS) first joined the Pirates of the Caribbean shore crew in early October in Spain. Anthony has more than 120,000 offshore nautical miles of experience and is a veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race, having sailed with Team SEB in 2001-2002. Merrington is replacing Freddy Loof who decided to withdraw from the team. Freddy wants to continue to focus on Olympic sailing and match racing. Freddy was a great contributor to the Pirates and we will miss him.

Yesterday, 7 December, we also welcomed another new Pirate; Frederick James Salter (navigator) arrived at 1025 UTC this morning. He weighed 8 pounds (3.64kg). Cabrini and Fred are both doing well and Edward is looking forward to a fight with his new brother.

On 16 December Pescanova has invited 1,000 young South African School children to come to Pirate City and meet the team, view the boat and get a bit of insight into this race and what it is like to sail around the world. It is a four-hour programme and the children will be from all walks of life from the Cape Town area.

Many of our families will be with us for Christmas. I know my children are looking forward to it and I am happy that everyone on the team will have their family here in South Africa; it is a great opportunity. Although I have been here before, it really struck me yesterday flying into the airport, we are in Africa. It is a vast continent? large, arid plains… where human civilization began. It still has a wild frontier like feel to it even though Cape Town is a large and modern City. This is what is cool about racing around the world… seeing all the different cultures.

Paul Cayard
Pirates of the Caribbean