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Whitbread Log: Leg 2,
Cape Town to Fremantle
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Battle
Battling the elements aboard EF Language in the Roaring Forties. (Click on the photo to see a larger image.)

Day 12 - Nov. 19, 1997

1826 GMT
49° 50'S, 082° 03'E

Miles to Fremantle: 1,848

Place: 4th; distance behind 3rd-place boat: 180 miles

From: Mark Rudiger, navigator EF Language

Why does it always happen at dark? I had just calmed Crusty down on deck because the wind was gusting 35 knots (equal to about 40 in normal climates) and he wanted to downsize from the kite. The latest forecast and satellite image showed nothing unusual. But this is the Southern Ocean. Looking on the radar, I warned them of a small squall forming on deck 2.5 miles away. By the time I got my harness on and went on deck to have a look it was too late.

We went into a full-on spinout and lay on our side for what seemed like minutes until the 2.0 oz. poly-shy kite started shredding itself before we could get it under control. Thank god the mainsail handled it until we got the pieces of spinnaker on board and took off at 20 knots under the main. I didn't realize what was odd on deck until about 2 minutes into the fire drill, but there was a light sleet snow coming down. Second snow storm today.

Because the large low SE of us is moving to the east, we are getting SW wind coming up from Arctic. The high we have been running under is also moving with us and may present a problem when we want start heading up to Perth.

The guys are doing an awesome job on deck, led by our fearless skipper, enduring hours of hard, cold, wet, scary sailing. Relatively, things are more challenging in the nav station as well. Wearing everything I brought, including snow hat and gloves (special challenge when typing on laptop wrapped in plastic) I am constantly trying to keep stuff dry. My feet are freezing because I'm basically standing on frozen cement. Trying to plot and work computers with constant jerking and jolting.

The good news in all this is that we had the fastest run of the fleet in the last sked, and we're coming up to 1800 miles to Fremantle! We are starting to creep north and should accelerate our ascent to normalcy in the next couple of days. They say the feeling comes back in your feet and hands after a week or so. We'll look forward to that and a steady bed that doesn't toss you into the drying locker head first like it did to me this morning.

Anybody looking for adventure in the sail repair business apply at your nearest Whitbread office. Meanwhile, I'm going to check on gas rationing to see if I can sneak warm soup. Water temp. gauge just went up to 38°F, so that's a good sign.

Bye for now.

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