13/12/11- Allowing the Southern Ocean the respect she deserves

13 12 2011

We are getting out of the cold of the southern ocean! We gybed a couple of hours ago and we are heading about north east, up to the western side of the latitude limit and we are running along with about 15 knots of boat speed and everything’s running really well, we’re feeling a bit dryer and a bit warmer than we had for the last few days even though I don’t think it actually is much dryer or much warmer at all – maybe it’s some psychological thing about getting back north!

We got down to 48 – 49 degrees south about 4 hours ago and then gybed and are now heading north. So off we go, we’re very happy with where we are in terms of the competition, it looks like our friends H and M have had a bit of a blue and have got caught in a big area of no pressure – but we’ve been monitoring Cessna, they’re about 40- 50 miles ahead, and we’ve just been staying in touch with them for the last few days. They haven’t gybed yet as they are continuing on a south easterly course. We took 10 miles out of them in the last 3 miles so hoping we can take another 10! Although it sounds a lot, 10 miles isn’t a great deal, and can appear and disappear in ten minutes. Everything is well on board, we’re getting lots of sleep, we’re eating well, no arguments or family disputes!

Our visitor we had a couple of days ago was certainly a comedy moment! And something I don’t think I will ever see again! Ross and I have been talking about things that we’ll see while we’re in the Southern Ocean and really the main thing we’ve come up with is just to hang on tight and keep an eye out for ice burgs. But actually I’d rather take having an albatross flapping around in the back of the cockpit as a comedy moment than seeing an ice burg, It was such a surreal moment – they really are huge birds, and when it came down to it we were so focussed on releasing him we didn’t have the frame of mind to get the camera out – although it would have been amazing to get a photo. There is an old seaman folk law about albatross’ being the spirit of seamen lost at sea and must be treated with a great deal of respect, so we got the poor fella back in the water and off he went. We haven’t seen as many albatross’ further south, but I think it has been the highlight of the trip – having an albatross land on BSL. Not many people can say they have had an albatross in their arms in the Southern Ocean!

So the reason for the drysuit – I’ve been having a battle with keeping my feet dry – so the first time I put it on, I zipped it up and had quite a bit of trapped air, and thought this was quite good – so blew it up for a bit of a muck around and thought brilliant – I can lie down with a bit of air in it, would act as an insulating layer and I won’t need a sleeping bag. Meanwhile Ross is rolling around laughing watching the whole thing, and next thing I fell asleep and Ross was hollering at me – I thought something was really wrong , especially by his tone of voice, so I tried to leap out of the bunk and was basically resembling a sumo wrestler, with small arms coming out the side, definitely scared the poor albatross and but it was all pretty amusing.