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.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Endless Journey

Alas, a photo of Martin!  Out in the middle of the North Pacific.  Martin at the helm.
Martin and I decided to hold off from posting for a few days out of respect for the loss of Sarah Young, a crew member on the Clipper race boat, ICHORCOAL.  What a terrible tragedy. We were heartbroken. Martin and crew have had a rough couple of days because the storms have continued to be rough.  So, they are back at it trying to get through the elements.  I have had little contact with Martin because of the weather, but even the littlest of contact suffices... for now.  I have a few posts that I will be posting the next few days from Martin so check back regularly.  Here is one that he sent to me last Thursday.  


"When you look at a map the enormity of the Pacific Ocean becomes clear.
Sailing from Qingdao to Seattle takes up 120 degrees of longitude.  The earth has 360 degrees, so you quickly see that sailing across the Pacific means sailing 1/3 the way around the globe.  Another way to think about it is if you look at Google Earth, the Pacific Ocean takes up the whole page.

Previously my longest sailing passage has been from the Galapagos Islands to the Marqueses Islands in the South Pacific.  A trip that took 18 days during which we didn't see another boat or plane for 11 days straight.  I remember that those 18 days seemed to take forever, especially for my wife Kym.  This North Pacific passage will take about 30 days and is in much rougher conditions.  As I think about how far we have come, and yet how far we still have to go, it feels like it will never end.  The good news is that we have 20 people on board to make it as enjoyable as it can be.

One of those crew members who makes it work well is Amancio, a production company owner from Spain.  Amancio manages all the food and provisions on board Visit Seattle.  In China he worked hard with Alex, a female investment banker from NYC, to plan, find, and stock up on everything we needed for the voyage. He then organized it all into daily food packages etc.  Need more hot sauce?  Only Amancio knows where it is buried and can dig it out. The daily cooks or "Mothers" rely on Amancio for the menu and ingredients before they can start chopping and dicing for lunch or dinner.
I've been truly impressed by Amancio's diligent and tireless provisioning efforts on our behalf; he is also a great sailor and navigator.

The food on board our boat has been wonderful and one of the keys to our happy crew, particularly for the RTW's (round the world racers).  We've had everything from shrimp, steaks, and pork loin dishes to name a few, as well as fresh bread and cakes for dessert.  This is one difference between the Clipper Race for amateur sailors, and the Volvo Ocean Race for professionals where they eat only freeze dried foods on board to save weight.

During the last storm, I saw Alex cooking for 20 while bouncing up and down and side to side.  I don't know how she did it as all I could do that day was lay on the floor nearby and puke.  We gave her a big round of applause for the great meal. I truly dread the day when it will be my turn to be Mother. Working in the galley is the fastest way to bring on my seasickness and I'd much rather clean heads and bilges, or work on deck in a typhoon.

I wonder if I can work out a trade.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

A post update...

This is not a race that should be taken lightly.  I have had little to no communication with Martin other than a few texts because the conditions are very rough and have been the last 3 days.  Martin and Team VISIT SEATTLE are very saddened by the news of Sarah Young, a teammate on the Clipper boat, ICHORCOAL.


Martin's statement:

"Everyone aboard Visit Seattle is devastated by Sarah's loss. Our thoughts are with her family, skipper and crew."

Full report here.

I think the tributes to Sarah should be recognized. Click here.