Ahoy thurrr. No sweet serenading sonets from me I’m afraid. I will leave that to Quin. Along with the sodden sob stories about our soggy stretch on the seas. Instead I thought I would fill you in ‘omnibus style’ from our 9 metre long Ocean caravan.
As Quin mentioned, the end of January proved a real test for us. I am happy to say that we passed with flying colours - the wettest conditions I have ever experienced and hopefully will never have to see again. However, congratulations to all of you who have also struggled through January in a drier fashion. Pause the Netflix series, brake off the shackles, put on some glad-rags and head to your local and have a cold one on us - no more dry January blues .
So, after re- charging our batteries with a feast of Spag Bol and a goblet of Port we dried out our cabins, set our compasses due west and made haste for Antigua. The following day we decided to put a new set of cogs on the other side of our system. So, we delved into our spares bag and replaced the other set of chain feeders and cogs...a new start. It soon became apparent that something was not right. We stopped and had a classic PTP brainstorm. Meanwhile, a pod of whales decided to start circling our boat and surfing the waves either side to us! This has now become a regular feature and happens nearly every other day, something that amazes us every time and we will definitely miss our inquisitive Ocean BFG’s. Nonetheless, after some serious head scratching we figured out that our new set of cogs were in fact marginally too big to fit on our system. This was causing a horrible grating sound and made the bolt that runs through the middle of them to overheat.
Hoping we had found the solution we carried on - but found ourselves hearing the same sound. The day proceeded in a trial and error process - adding and taking away new cogs, washers and bearings to try and pinpoint what was causing this grating sound. Looking back, much of our preparation has been in the same vein. This is a brand new system and an untested means of crossing an ocean, we are the Guinea pigs and are constantly tinkering and fixing which you can probably gather from our previous blogs!
We proceeded to take the system apart again and found that the ceramic bearings that ensure the cogs move smoothly in a circular motion on the bolt had also shattered and were no longer tenable. After further scrupulous examinations by some weary mechanics we found that the new bearings that we had used were in fact different to the old ones and were the reason for the grating feeling. Therefore the winning system appeared to consist of one old cog, one new cog and both the old bearings. Lift off. Without getting too ahead of ourselves the system is still working smoothly to this day. So with a bit of TLC every few hours we are confident she will bodge us through to Antigua.
System solutions ticked we cracked on and started encountering some strong winds and waves at our tails. This was stellar news and although we knew it meant big swells, crashing waves and salty sores we also knew that it meant increased average speeds and greater distances covered. About 8 days of 20-25 knots roughly at our back meant Antugua was drawing ever closer. After a rough night - Quin ventured out of his cabin to join me on the pedals half way through my 8-10 am shift. (FYI - Throughout the trip we will have traveled through 4 time zones and as a result the sun rise has moved backwards about 3 hours so far.) The sun was daring to poke it’s face out of a smouldering layer of low lying whispy clouds. The waves were growing in size and this was evident even with my back to them in our stern pedal position. Then, suddenly, we mounted a 30/40 footer just as it was crashing with a stable full of white horses in its arsenal. This sent us careering down the wave at which point we lifted our feet off the pedals (which is generally the play in such situations ) and crashing into the water at the bottom. As I was looking vertically down at the seas it felt as if I was at the top of a rollercoaster ready to drop - at which point the bow cabin smashed into the water, fully submerging it, sending the displaced water flying back towards us in the boat. 2 Pedallers soaked through and a boat full of water. Bilge pump on and bucket bailer primed we drained the Reveller, washed her down and oiled her up again ready for action. A pretty hairy encounter which raised some pulses. 2 hours later, I was sitting on deck hoovering up some delicious dehydrated elevenses when the same thing happened to Paddy and Max - this time I lost sight of both of them and the Boat was overflowing with water. Both episodes are timely reminders of the nature of the beast that we are tackling and also ensures that we do not get too comfortable out here. I must also reiterate Quins point, Rannoch adventure we salute you - this vessel really is unsinkable !
I know some of you must be wondering what we are eating to fuel our phenomenal poo bucket statistics. So a little breakdown : 2 portions of porridge (with a healthy scoop of Nutella - if you know you know )3 dehydrated meals of about 900Kcal each, a snack pack, 2 protein shakes and a few scoops of peanut butter. We are not exactly sure on the exact calories intake but we reckon about 5 or 6000 Kcalories per day and we are burning about 7 or 8000 Kcalories a day. Our appetites have grown throughout the trip and now all of this doesn’t quell our hunger...Pigs! We are all looking forward to Saturday when we have told ourselves we can start attacking the extra snack packs we catered for -double chocky flapjacks....phwoar!
Unfortunately the big weather front took a few scalps including : Paddys iPhone, Max’s iPod and our sat phone. Nonetheless Quins trusty iPhone is still going strong and will hopefully allow us contact with land folk up until our arrival on Caribbean shores. Our speeds have picked up, along with our moral, and we are starting to taste those ice cold beers awaiting us in Antigua!
Anyways that’s all from me folks. It’s been a pleasure as always. I will leave you with my dream team World XI of players from my generation. There will of course be some contentious decisions and I am bound to have forgotten a few so send in any amendments and we can thrash it out in true MNF fashion.
Over and Out.
GK - G. Buffon
RB - P. Lahm
CB - F. Cannavaro (c)
CB - S. Ramos
LB - R. Carlos
CDM - Xavi
CDM - Zizu
LW - L. Figo
CAM - L. Messi
RW - C. Ronaldo
ST - Fat Ronaldo
Alternatives / Subs
GK - M.Neur / I.Casillas / O.Kahn
RB - D.Alves / Laurent / J.Alba
CB - R. Ferdinand / C.Puyol / T.Silva / J.Mascherano / G.Pique / J.Staam
LB- Marcelo / A.Cole /
CM - Scholes / Iniesta / A. Pirlo / S.Gerrard / P. Viera / C. Seedorf
RM - F.Ribbery / Ronaldinho / D. Beckham
LM- A.Robben / Rivaldo / G.Bale
ST - G.Batistuta / Zlatan / T.Henry / F.Totti / E.Cantona / P. Di Canio ( ⚒)