Aldo Kane Blog day 19 and 20.
It’s been a busy passage over the last few days after all the capsize excitement of Tuesday. After re grouping we motored onwards using the favourable winds and swell to propel us ever forwards to the Verde Islands. We have been averaging around 84 nm per day which is a great, if we can maintain this going forward we will be well on our way to setting a new world record, despite the many nights at para anchor not making any ground.
As we near the end of week three at sea and start week four we have a few updates from the boat. Due to Olivers infected feet, we decided to give him a break from the oars in an attempt to let them heal. That meant that during the day he was in charge of admidn and cooking etc and had the evenings off to dry and take care of his feet. Over the course of 3 days the antibiotics started to work and his feet are now on the mend. On the subject of feet, I’ve been barefoot on deck now for 5 days. Not great when at night the temperatures plummet and they are constantly getting soaked. When we get to Venezuela, I’ll have been bare foot for probably 5 weeks, proper feral.
Our biggest problem to date so far on the boat hasn’t been weather or any other external elements. It’s one which in hind sight really shouldn’t be happening and I wish I had thought about it properly before we left. The most important thing to us on this boat bar food is sleep. We need to sleep a lot and space is tight. The first issue is that we have beds designed for use on a nice big yacht, not an ocean rowing boat. So you can imagine the condition of the nice velour covered foam matresses after wet crew changes every two hours. With all the will in the world, they get soaked and have been for 3 weeks. Our life support modules are exactly that and require to be basically airtight in the event of a capsize. This means that with zero airflow and 2 x men sleeping in each cabin, the condensation eventually rains onto you soaking again everything. In the morning the mats are sopping and there are puddles of water slopping around underneath. Our sacred sleeping space has been compromised and it’s taking its toll. We all have water/salt sores on our backs and arse. We have started to sleep in our goretex suits which again is a simple no no as far as remaining healthy and operational. In hind sight a simple £10 camping roll mat would have been a better choice than the plush foam and velour spread we currently have. The cabins also need a dehumidifier if there is no options for ventilation. Foxy and I ofter wake up in the aft cabin struggling for breath and have to vent the hatch, leading to other issues as previously documented. End of rant.
We have had a big sea with following wind which has helped our progress no end. With it comes it’s own hazards and wide eyed moments. Yesterday we had been surfing big waves all day. Some of them were the biggest we have seen to date. At 6pm, we stared open mouthed North, the way we all face, at the biggest wave we have ever seen. It was without doubt over 20 feet but incredibly steep. It’s gun metal grey face was powering towards us with an unbelievable force. The sun started to shine through the wind wave on top shimmering turquoise blue as it rose high above us.
Whatever the outcome, at this point we were merely passengers. A look of terror flicked on every single crew members face as the stern was starting to rise. Within seconds we were moving down the cold black face towards the abyss at a speed well over 18 knots, possibly more. At this speed the boat starts to creak and any minor trim issues become huge problems. Within seconds we were smashed over the stern with a wall of white water. It started to swamp the boat from all sides and the inevitable was about to happen. A capsize at this speed would render the boat trashed and probably us too. I ran towards the back of the boat with one other, we tried to shift the weight off the back of the wave. Within seconds we were broadside and taking on water. The next few minutes took a life to unfold. The wave crashed around us, we lost some kit and somehow managed to offset the capsize with our weight shift. To say it was terrifying would be an understatement, but on this occasion, we escaped with minimal damages. There was remnants of food and cooking utensils scattered over the deck. I lacerated my finger which foxy taped up as the sun began to set. The thought of surfing these giants through the night put us all on edge.
Over the course of the night, on our watch, we were left without Auto helm on 4 occasions. This failure always leaves the boat exposed fully broadside to the relentless wave train coming our way. It’s a frought procedure to get this situation under control and takes at least 15 minutes each time. Time and effort we can barely afford to be expending. Well, at least there’s the respite of our comfy living quarters to recover in!