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Whitbread Log: Leg 2,
Cape Town to Fremantle
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Cold
Bundled against the bitter cold aboard EF Language. (Click on the photo to see a larger image.)

Day 13 - Nov. 20, 1997

1244 GMT
48° 55'S, 089° 59'E

Miles to Fremantle: 1,547

Place: 4th; distance behind 3rd-place boat: 164 miles

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language


Report #2

Just got our pole on after 18 hours without. Should stop the bleeding.


Report #1

Again, my apologies for not writing more and at the right time, but it has been full-on the last two days.

Last night we had a night that I will never forget. Just after it got black dark, we got hit by a 40 knot squall. We broached and were stuck head-to-wind for 10 minutes. We flogged the spinnaker to shreds and broke our second pole. Everyone was OK, but the boat is real beat up and we are real tired.

Before the mother of all broaches, we had one spinnaker torn from two nights ago just being finished up when we got a very small tear in the one we had up. To be cautious, we took it down and set another. In the imbalance that is created when you change short handed, we broached and got a tear in the next one. It was OK for an hour, but then we changed to the third, which was later demolished.

The galley has been inoperable for two days. Dishes were washed on deck in the tide pool there. Marco Constant has put all but one spinnaker back together, but while he worked below, I had to stand his watch, as we need five minimum in these conditions.

The decks are awash . . . that is an understatement. There are 2 feet of water on the deck regularly. When the squalls come, it doesn't rain, it snows. Everything is wet because our heater broke in the first day. It is bitter cold. The pain I experienced one night defrosting my numb fingers was second to none I have experienced. Kimo got some minor frostbite. Your hands get so cold you have to shake them constantly trying to get the blood down your arm. The water temperature is 37°F., the air about the same.

The boat is slamming and shaking violently as we speed down the 5-meter waves, first flopping onto the bottom of the trough, then crashing into the one in front. The bow buries at that point and a wall of water 2-3 feet comes down the deck. The flopping is like the boat being dropped from 4-5 feet in the air, truly unbelievable. You wonder what keeps this thing together.

The basic human needs get very basic. To take a pee, one must use the three point stance. In these conditions you pee inside using the toilet . . . two feet down, forehead against the wall forward on which the toilet is mounted. This leaves one hand free to hang on with and one hand to aim with. Inevitably, the boat lurches and you slam you head against the wall a few times while you seek relief. Of course, there are a few leaks right there so you get rained on constantly during the exercise. Finally, as the urine hits the freezing toilet bowl, it vaporizes and that is the final stage of the experience.

Right now we are sailing with no pole as Josh is trying to make one from the broken bits we have. This is slowing us down 10% and is the reason Silk Cut is sailing lower and fast than us. It will be real close on whether we can get the pole up and working before he passes us. We have broken three battens, so the main is not 100%. The starboard wheel is bent where Juggy got washed into it. We have no life lines on the port side . Spinnaker sheets get burned up every 2 hours.

This is not the same boat we left Cape Town with, physically or mentally.

Paul Cayard
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