Puma's Amory Ross: Stalking the low

Puma's Amory Ross: Stalking the low

Wednesday May 23 2012 Author: Amory Ross Location: none selected

Location: 450 miles W of Hamilton, Bermuda
Heading: 064 degrees
Windspeed: 18.3 knots
Boat speed: 19.7 knots

I got an email from a friend today that asked how we were doing, what we were up to? The only honest reply I could think of was odd: “Doing great, thanks. Chasing what’s left of a named tropical storm and going fast towards Portugal.” Tis an interesting life we lead.

Truthfully though, we have been stalking this low to the north for the past two days, alternating our heading all the time to stay just south of its outer cloud band. If we get too close we could get sucked in, caught under its swirling winds, but too far away and we might miss out on the stronger winds generated by its pressure gradient.

At one point CAMPER was a mile ahead of us to the east and two miles to leeward, to the north, but it was too close for them. They speared off in a massive header that only worsened and before long they were sailing 90-degrees to our course, on the same tack, straight for the clouds. The next sched they were 22 miles back. The line between benefit and detriment is that fine, and it has been the main focus of strategic discussion during the last 48 hours.

Otherwise, life is wet. It doesn’t take much on these boats before waves are breaking over the deck, and it does make things damp in a hurry. Nothing we aren’t used to at this point, but uncomfortable nonetheless! When your foulies get soaked on day 1 and you know you have 11 more days of putting on wet gear, that stinks. Imagine running around in the rain, coming in for a nap, and then going out again in the same moppy clothes three hours later. Then repeat that bizarre activity for days at a time.

We typically pack just two or three spare items of clothing – shorts, shirts, etc – but when you find yourself digging into the spares kit on day 2, as some of us have, you’ve got some serious freshness-rationing left to do! Eating habits change a bit, too. Nobody wants to bury his hand in a soggy bag of trail mix or moist beef jerky, and a dripping sleeve of salty bubble gum doesn’t burst with the same fruity wonder. But that’s North Atlantic life and it will be that way for the next week or so. All you can do is tell yourself it will be over soon and tough it out for the time being.

Lisbon, roofs, and drying machines await just a few thousand miles away.

- Amory

Casey Smith dragging a sail bag aft following a sail change. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Kelvin Harrap sending PUMA's Mar Mostro through its paces. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

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