Musandam back into the Indian Ocean
The report back from on board today (4 March) was "this is ground hog day for sure", currently situated 900 miles directly south of Madagascar in boat breaking, upwind conditions in the South Indian Ocean. Life onboard has been reduced to just about living rather than anything else, getting sleep when conditions allow, routine checks around the boat - removing some water from the back compartment and every now and then getting on deck to ease the traveller. Another 24-36 hours of this is expected and then they are looking forward to some 'downwind fun' and heading north towards Muscat.
A look back at week 8
Another great week spent in the action-packed Musandam worldwide tour, and with activities ranging from creative zero-gravity writing to mast climbing, the boys have kept busy (whilst trying to keep dry) and managed to 'round' the last of the three great capes of their epic journey. Back in the Indian ocean, the crew now has only one remaining symbolic line to cross before the arrival in Muscat, and one could bet that the "time to the Equator" will from now on be one of the favorites subjects of conversation on board. And if the Agulhas current has been shaking things up, the next matter of concern will most surely be light airs, as going back up the Indian ocean might prove tough on the nerves at times. Looking at the bright side of things, Mohsin is certainly happy to be back in home waters with Muscat right up there further north, and the rise in temperature will allow the men on board to clean and ventilate the boat. as well as their clothes.
Sleeping bags soon will be a thing of the past as well, which is not a bad thing for Charlie who recently experienced gear failure on that front. As he wrote last Wednesday, "The sea isn't too bad, but as we are going very quickly over it - it's rough onboard! About an hour into trying to get to sleep and whining for about 10 minutes and I found myself floating in space. For a split second I woke up experiencing the full force (or not) of zero gravity and thought what a marvelous way to live, until gravity was restored with vengeance... I came crashing down, not on the bunk but on the corner of battery box which isn't round or padded ouch !! - battery box 1 shoulder 0. It was pitch black so bounce back into bed to try to sleep again only to discover i had a mouth full of feathers, the battery box had split a compartment of my sleeping bag and the feathers were coming out everywhere....battery box 2 me 0."
By the time Musandam slipped back into the Eastern hemisphere - with a 2500+ lead over the 80 day pace boat and just under 6000 miles to go, the injuries count had risen: Theirry hurt his left thumb while he was up the mast, but fortunately the wound, although painful, was not diagnosed as worrying. The crew has been in touch with the shore doctor and the prognosis was all positive with no signs of bone or ligament damage - the only problem now is trying to keep the skin dry in order for it to heal, Charlie had been covering some of Theirry's watch to help process which is going well so far. In the meantime, on the strategic front things did not seem to take a simpler shape, with a massive high pressure system and subsequent light airs blocking the way. "Our choice of routes makes us decide between more wind upwind for a shorter time, or less wind upwind for a longer time", wrote Charlie, throwing in the classic "between a rock and a hard place" image for good measure.
On Day 52 (28 February), the longitude of the last of the three great capes, Good Hope itself, was well in the wake of Musandam. but this time again, as it had already been the case for cape Leeuwin, if everyone onboard talked about it a lot, no one actually saw it - some infamous landmarks tend to act as Loch Ness monsters, probably to keep the legend alive. "Just keep pushing" was the headline chosen by the Musandam Chronicle editor, and as a result the boat happily piled up miles, doing more than 30 knots at times on a (finally) organised swell allowing for some thrilling surfs. The wind nevertheless did drop as expected, falling from 17 to less than 10 knots in an hour on Sunday morning and the aforementioned swell was welcome as it continued to push the trimaran in the right direction. By that time, the feared high pressure system was around the boat, and it seemed like that long awaited left turn towards Muscat would have to wait for another 48 hours.
And what a 48 hours. by Monday morning, boat-breaking upwind conditions were back on the menu, with Musandam launching off waves and crashing down violently, still in the Roaring 40s as weather conditions seemed to force the crew to continue towards the East before being able to find a satisfactory gateway to the North. More than ever, preserving the gear and taking proactive boat-improvement measures before things actually do break is a priority, since the failure of even a very small fitting can have disastrous consequences.
Energy update. renewables are the way forward!
From Charlie: "The headwinds have been good for the environment though, the wind generator has been doing a good job and we'll manage with just one 40 minute charge from the diesel generator in the last 24 hours, rather than the more usual 4 x 40 minute recharges. I think we could push it so we wouldn't have charged at all in last 24 hours (by waiting until 10 am) but we will need to run the water maker and that uses a lot of power so that's best done with the generator running. So far we have used less than 100 litres of diesel, much less than if we had decided to use the wind generator only as a back up and leave it packed up until a time of need - It was definitely worth fitting onboard".