Thursday, April 14, 2016

War Wounds

430 nautical miles to the finish line with another 120 to Seattle.  
VISIT SEATTLE is the white boat.  Martin is almost home!
I have been texting with Martin all day today.  It has been so wonderful.  He said that they have had winds at 115knots and that it has been "wicked".  I would say so!

We officially have two more days before our family is reunited.  I can not wait.  Martin can't wait a little more than me.  I think he will be one happy man to get off the boat onto dry land.  

Remember when I wrote that I have been a little worried about Martin due to the weather in my last post? Well, I've had this one on the back burner since yesterday knowing about Martin's hands.  It's had me worried since I read it.  He's really suffering because the gloves that he has been wearing have never completely dried out all the way.  Oh man, the misery.  Well, why don't I just let you read it in his own words.... Enjoy!


"This endurance race across the North Pacific has taken its toll on both the boats and crew. These boats are built to take it, but yesterday we heard that Garmin and Da Nang - Viet Nam were damaged in the heavy seas. From the limited information we heard, it sounds like their helming stations were damaged and possibly disabled from heeling over too hard. Da Nang - Viet Nam also ripped out part of their mainsail track, requiring them to drop out and motor the remainder of the way. Earlier in the race three of the boats, including us on Visit Seattle, lost their bowsprits as the toll for pounding through the steep oncoming waves.

Last night we encountered a big blow with winds gusts in the 90-knot range.  One gust measured 115 knots. Although during the storm we were running with just the storm jib and no mainsail, we took a massive wave over the side that auto-inflated three of the deck crews' life vests.

There has also been the usual wear and tear on our boat, which makes us currently look a bit ragged. We are about to lose our Visit Seattle logo from our mainsail due to chafe, and many of our previous tape repairs have come undone and are barely hanging on.  

As for the crew itself, we have held together fairly well. Aside from the first part of the race when more than half the crew suffered with fever and a bad chest infection, we are all in one piece. 

As for myself, I'm holding together, but continue to fight the nausea when it comes. I've also recently had a talk with the Clipper Race medical support team at PRAXES and they diagnosed my hands as having the equivalent of Trench Foot (think soldiers in WW1) from the constant wet and cold. Turns out that Rich, our embedded Clipper Race cameraman, has the same type of red splotches on his foot.

Here is to us holding it together for our last week crossing the Pacific.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wetter, Colder, Bigger, Faster

I can't help it, 4 more days and Martin and team Visit Seattle will be in Seattle—I am beside myself!  I have been busily preparing getting things ready before I leave.  I haven't heard from Martin for a few days but hear conditions are really harsh and boat speeds are well over 25 knots.  FAST!  I'm a little worried about Martin, but more about that in the next post, but I will say that the cold, wet conditions aren't helping him or any of his teammates.

Before we get to Martin's latest post, I want to congratulate team Derry-Londonderry-Doire and their skipper, Daniel Smith who crossed the finish line today, making this their third win in the race! I can't help but be a little envious just knowing that they are motoring the last 120 miles through the shipping lanes that will take them into Seattle.  The rough seas are behind them and it makes me think that team Visit Seattle is still fighting vigorously out there battling the harsh elements with 4 more really HARD days.  Say prayers that all boats arrive safely, team Da Nang-Vietnam had a knock-out yesterday due to a large wave that took out some of their equipment causing them to have to drop out of the race.  So let's just pray all boats arrive safe.

Now to Martin's post:

"As we race on to Seattle, my previous struggles of being wet and cold during this voyage have recently been surpassed. We had four days of constant, cold rain, causing everything to get wet both inside and outside the boat.

Condensation drips everywhere, including falling on this keyboard as I type. The strong arctic wind coming from the north – with gusts up to 75 knots – makes eerie howls through the rigging. The wind simply lifts the water off the ocean and turns it into spray. The wind and spray then slice through our wet gloves and foul weather gear, freezing our hands and chilling all of us to the bone.  These cold conditions require the deck crew to rotate below at least every hour, but down below deck it isn't much better; you can see your breath as you talk, and steam rises from the toilet bowl. My boots have been soaked for weeks, and I have to wring my socks out after every use, even though I'm using plastic bags around my socks (I'm still perplexed how it soaks my socks so fast). In short, there is no escaping the North Pacific cold.

The other dynamic to contend with on board is that the ocean waves have gotten huge. They are 30- to 35-foot Pacific mountains of rolling swells that break into frothy, white combers.  They are beautiful to see as they build up behind the boat, then come crashing down and around us, and then pass under us, leaving streaks of white water. Unfortunately, these beauties make life on board a real challenge as we are constantly getting knocked around. Plates and people constantly go flying. I watched a pot of melted butter lift off the stove and go flying across the galley only to leave a complete mess on the wall and floor. Luckily it quickly froze, but poor Rachael, who had been attempting to make a cake, had to scrape it up. When getting dressed and undressed in the hallway beside my bunk, it’s an ongoing game of Ping-Pong. I first bang into one wall, and only seconds later, bang into the opposite wall. I'm now oddly grateful for cramped, narrow spaces.

The best thing about these big waves is the surfing contest. I had a blast yesterday helming for an hour, and managed a really long and fast ride slotted perfectly in the curl. Walls of water shot to the sides and a rooster tail followed us. Later, we had another roaring blast down the hill and I claimed a new personal record of 29 knots. John – our normally good-looking and level-headed media liaison, who recently had the strange impulse to shave his head in honor of crossing the International Dateline – owns the boat, and apparently holds the current race record of 34.6 knots. That means we’re getting our 33-ton boat to accelerate to almost 40 miles per hour in less than 15 seconds!

So far our challenge has taken us 4,948 nautical miles across the North Pacific. As the Antarctic explorer Earnest Shackleton's family motto says: “By Endurance We Conquer.” See you in Seattle!


Monday, April 11, 2016

Surfin' USA

Life at an angle.

Hi All-
My apologies for not having kept up with my posts but I have been sick.  Flat on my back for three days kind of sick.  I think after reading about Martin being so seasick for so long, day-in and day-out, it finally got to me and I have had empathy sickness... or something of the sort.

Early this morning I got a text from Martin saying, "See you on Sunday!"  I shot out of bed!  What?  Sunday!  I had already booked Lily and I to get into Seattle on Monday thinking that he wouldn't arrive until Tuesday.  So, I spent all morning rebooking flights and accommodations.  Then I got another text later in the day with him saying, "Well, maybe Monday morning."  I give up!  Looks like Lily and I are going to have a long enjoyable stay in Seattle because I am not changing tickets again.

Later this evening I got another text from Martin saying, "Take a screenshot of the race right now! It is crazy out here! The weather conditions are insane!"  So I did.
Screenshot of the Swells.

Screenshot of the Wind and Air Pressure.

Screenshot of the Temperature.

It's reported on the site that speeds are in the "high teens" with the surfs in the 20 knot ranges.  I DID NOT need to know this!  This is one heck of a race!

I am just ready to get Martin home.

Martin's latest text to me was simply this, "I'm cold."

If you haven't read his latest post on the crew diary, here it is:

"The Beach Boys’ hit songs about surfing made it the goal of every guy in California to ride a wave. Here on Visit Seattle, it's everyone's goal to get our boat to be our 70-foot surfboard so we can surf down these big Pacific rolling waves. By surfing, we can get the boat to plane down the swell and just about double our speed. The longer we can "ride it out" the longer we can sustain the higher speed.
However, surfing is not without its risks. The boat constantly wants to broach or get sideways to the wave, and it takes a strong and attentive helmsman to keep the boat headed in the right direction. The other risk is that our mainsail can potentially jibe and violently swing across the wind causing all sorts of havoc.

On my sailboat Amara, we have both power steering and an autopilot. Here on Visit Seattle, it is manual steering all the way. I was on the helm last night for one hour and my left shoulder is still sore this morning from the workout. Pekka, a previous race crew member from Finland, had to heartbreakingly drop out of this Pacific crossing due to a shoulder overuse injury, which I'm sure came from his time at the helm.

Time to get back to our surfing safari.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Storms Continue...

Martin and his skipper, Huw were interviewed this past week while sailing the North Pacific to share their thoughts about the race and about Sarah Young, the sailor who was tragically killed when she was swept overboard on the Clipper ship, ICHORCOAL.

Each boat paid tribute to Sarah as they read a passage from one of her favorite poems while also having a moment of silence in her behalf.  The elements have been very rough and unrelenting in spite of a truly sad event that transpired this past week.  Yet they travel on, trying to keep their spirits up and keep everyone one safe aboard Visit Seattle.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wet and Cold

How's that for Cold and Soggy?
Remember when I mentioned wet socks yesterday?  Well the proof is in this post.   Poor guy.  But I can't say that I didn't warn him.  I'm the type that doubles up on necessities.  Two pairs of boots.   Two pairs of gloves.  Hand warmers.  Foot warmers.  Toe warmers.  Not Martin.  Have I ever mentioned that Martin saves shower caps from hotel rooms because he likes how compact they are and that they are a good way to keep your head warm without carrying around a big bulky hat?  Uh, I'll take the big bulky hat, thank you!

Today has been good because I have had better contact with Martin than I have in the past week.  Granted, our conversations go something like this...  Martin: "Hi! %45how's lily?! Love u!l32.  Miss you.  I'm freezing!" (I think his hands are cold and he is punching buttons before he gets to the right key).  Me: "Love you too!  Hey, what's the combo to the boat lock?" or "Who aerates our lawn?"  and "Stop saying 'puke' so much in all your posts! So gross!"  I am totally romantic. Anyway, it's nice to just know he's there and thinking about us.  I miss him.

All the boats have officially passed the halfway mark, so it's basically downhill from here.  Visit Seattle should be in Seattle in less than 15 days.  I can't believe it.  I am beyond excited and planning one big BBQ!

Anyway, enough about what's happening here and more about being wet and soggy.


- Kym

"We have been battling forward against a strong cold northeasterly headwind for the last four days. As a result, we are instantly sprayed as we go on deck, and remain constantly wet for our entire time on watch. Somehow the water seems to find its way against gravity and go up my foulie sleeves and soak the lower parts of my inner layers. My gloves have been soaked for days and my hands look like white prunes. While I thought that I was pretty savvy to utilize rubber Alaskan fishing gloves, I hadn't realized their disadvantage in that their linings just don't dry out. There is nothing I hate worse then putting on cold wet gloves to start my four or six hours on watch. My left boot filled with water several days ago due to my adventures up at the bow, and ever since each pair of dry socks just gets soaked. Somehow I don't seem to mind my cold wet feet as much as my cold hands, maybe because my feet are now beyond all feeling.

Sailing along we have had snow, hail and, the worst for me, frozen ice crystals pelting us in the eyes and face as we take turns at the helm. The water temperature is a cold 9 degrees Celsius, but it's the wind chill from the 30-knot wind from the north that gets to me.

I've also observed at night that the phosphorescence we normally see in the boat wake can get sprayed up into the air making for very cool fireflies or sparkler effects. With no stars visible, steering just to the compass is a chore, and I've come to appreciate the poem verse that says, “And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”

Even below deck it's wet. The ceiling and walls just drip everywhere, and everything is damp, including my sleeping bag. It's that damp wet and cold that chills you to the bone that drains your energy and makes you wish you could curl up in front of a warm fire. Unfortunately, on board Visit Seattle we have neither heat nor hot water. So we just make do. As of today, we have about two weeks to go to get warm, clean, dry clothes in Seattle.