I just came down from some squall busting on deck and looked at the chart. I went back on deck, and after the guys finished telling their same stories for the fifth time, they looked at me and quieted down. They know now when I have something to say.
I pointed over to the starboard beam and said: 'guys, just under five months ago, we were just a couple hundred miles over there on leg one of this around the planet race heading south for Cape Town. We were just beginning the race of a lifetime then.
And damned, if Assa Abloy, illbruck, and Tyco weren't in the lead pack then. Things are pretty much the same here, the wind is still blowing out of the southeast, the squalls are rolling by, and the waves are marching across the ocean. But a lot has happened with us, and a lot has happened to Assa Abloy. She has raced over 27,000 miles, through incredible cold and heat. She has missed, god only knows, how many bergy bits [small icebergs], whales, containers, etc. she has survived falling endlessly off big waves, and withstood a few rough gibes and broaches.
We have likewise endured hours and hours of fire-hose reaching, freezing rain, blistering heat, and sometimes frayed nerves.
I can't speak for everyone, but for me, another lifetime has transpired. As some of you know, I have a three year old son, and when we started this race, Zayle knew a dozen words, (the usual, bottle, milk, blanky, choo choo, mine, etc..). Now he fully understands that daddy's boat is sailing around the world with 'boys', and every time I meet up with Lori and Zayle after a leg, the hugs are harder and longer. Likewise, each time I leave, it gets equally harder to let go. By the time this race is over, he will be a little boy, and Lori and I will be looking forward to spending quality time together making up for the long distance lifestyle. As always, I have a new perspective on life. After being in adversity, and seeing how little other countries have, I have come to appreciate more than ever how lucky I am. I hope I have spread a little of that around the planet in my path.
As I look around me now, and how we are pushing illbruck and Tyco harder than ever, with much less conversation and debate, I can see the growth in our team, and how the support from everyone, especially our shore team, has made us stronger. Even though we are only half way through the race on points, and have a long way to go, we all feel this is a mile-stone, and it feels good to be progressing to our ultimate goal: win the Volvo Ocean Race.
Now we just have to get through these crazy doldrums intact, and then we can at least settle down to some trade wind reaching. This will be the drag race part of this leg, and positions aren't likely to change very much. At present, the north Atlantic high is pushing a good northeasterly burst down our way, and hopefully our transition will be smooth. The fleet behind could catch us in a day if we park up somewhere.
So we're watching the satellite pictures closely and dodging squalls for the next couple days.