illbruck steps out
Hayles in the navigation station
Ice everywhere. It seems that the whole fleet passed through an area of icebergs and smaller growlers just before darkness down here in the Southern Ocean.
Reports were coming thick and fast from numerous boats of icebergs and on Tyco we passed one sizeable one about 300 metres away. They make an impressive sight, but to be honest we would all rather see pictures of them than have to see them so close up. It's dark now and I am sitting in the nav station constantly watching the radar. It works ok, but it is still a little nerve-wracking on everyone as we hit speeds of nearly 30 knots knowing that even a smaller piece of ice, that would be too small to see on radar, could easily ruin our day badly.
We are all settled in now to life 'down south' and we are working hard to keep pushing the boat without going too far and causing breakages, which can be very costly. The tactical options are still very interesting and it will be some time to come before we will know what has worked best. The situation is quite complex with a lot of variables but in simple terms it comes down to a choice of north or south. It sounds like it should be easy to resolve such a simple question, but we are constantly juggling short term versus longer term positioning and the weather of course is constantly on the change, as the weather models struggle to keep up with the rapidly evolving weather systems down here.
As to life on board - well its certainly colder than it was, but will probably get colder yet as we drop deeper south into colder seas. With so much water flying about on deck, it's hard to keep the inside of the boat dry and that means cold and wet bunks, which in turn means bad sleep. We do what we can to dry the boat out, but I was still surprised yesterday to see Damian [Foxhall] with a chamois in his hand wiping down the hull next to his bunk. It's actually not as strange as it may seem, as condensation is one of the major reasons for the boat being cold and damp inside. Everything else is ok on board but no doubt everyone will be looking forward to signing off on the Southern Ocean for this race in not much more than a week from now.
It's a great experience to come down here, but one that does not need to be repeated too often in my view.
More place changing and ice drama to come in the next few days I am sure.