Well the Doldrums have really lived up to their name! It is 9 days that we’ve been in them so far; apparently this is the longest Doldrum crossing the Clipper Race has ever had. Rio still seems miles away, as does the equator. So that’s half the race to date we’ve been in them.
The Doldrums sway between hours of boredom roasting in the sun (41’C at the moment), where we take 10 minute stints on the helm (roasting tin), whilst
the rest of watch cower in the shade, to a couple of hours of fury in the midst of thunder, lightning, strong wind changes and torrential downpours! Other times we plot the course of the squalls, prepare the boat for it, ready replacement sails, prepare a reef, ready to douse the kite at an instant only for the squall to peter out to nothing, or disappear off in a different direction.
Whilst it’s a balmy 41’C on deck, down below is like a blast furnace. Not very conducive to a good sleep during our off-watches! A few of us have slept on deck during our off-watches therefore, with life-jackets on and life-lines attached of course. Down below you just wake in a sweaty, slimy mess each time. In fact most of us have decided to have a ceremonial sheet burning ceremony when we get to Rio, they are that toxic now.
Whilst the crew accommodation is a better design than the old generation yachts from the perspective of the crew not sleeping in the sail locker; there is zero air circulation around the tunnels. We’ve tried rigging fans up, without success. It’s not helped by any air that is circulated having first passed through the galley thus picking up a little extra heat on the way!
To add to all this we discovered some new friends on board this morning living in the bilges – tiny Mites. Hopefully a strong measure of bleach poured in to them will kill the little buggers off. Not as bad as other boats apparently; Switzerland have beetles and stick insects by all accounts.
On reflection I’ll be glad when we finally leave the Doldrums behind. The worst is the long hours of inactivity, waiting for the fickle wind to make an appearance only to disappear as fast as it arrived.
We crave wind, rain and cooler climes!