According to Plan?

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Leg 1 RETIRED: Day 3 Journey to Tristan de Cunha

Let’s see, where to start...

Yesterday, I wrote that we were going to get a bit of diesel from a diverted ship. Well, that certainly happened. Right before dark. And, what a little adventure that was.

Of course we were expecting a normal ocean going ship, then from the horizon we see no normal looking ship. Essentially, a floating city is coming. A container ship the size of Providence, Rhode Island. Loaded to the gills with containers and making our little boat look like a spec of dirt on the side of a mountain.

Interesting story about this ship. Owned by a Greek shipping company with what appears to be a Russian crew. The captain, Borys Bondar, speaks pretty good English. Tom Addis becomes the radio operator. I put a plan in place on an email to Captain Bondar and away we go. Just not sure he ever read our version of the plan.

His plan is to stop sideways to a 20-knot wind, 5-8 foot seaway and do the transfer on the lee of the ship. His crew is putting little ball fenders out like we are going to come right up to the side. Talk about the sound of smashing carbon fiber! Not a chance that was happening – 1,000-foot steel ship vs. a 70-foot carbon fiber sailboat? Ship would win on every single wave.

I am guessing that the small amount of windage in a stopped vessel the size of Providence has the old girl drifting downwind at about 3 knots. Ever try to hover a 70 foot carbon fiber boat next to a floating city, drifting downwind on top of you while trying to pass 20, 30-liter containers of diesel fuel down a rope from a deck that is approximately 100 feet above you? And keep our boat from A) smashing into the side of a steel ship, or B) taking off too far away so the lines have to be cut and we loose some of the precious cargo being transferred? No? Didn't think so. Neither had I. But after about an hour of serious heart pounding excitement, we were off with our life blood.

And, away we went back toward Tristan da Cunha. Man, I hope I don't have to do that again in the near future.

So everything is good then, right?

Not really, but we are saving the sea. One hunk of floating debris at a time. As we seem to be a magnet to the stuff right now. Sounds harmless right?

Well, the first incident was harmless enough – in fact almost comical. As we were desperately trying to pull the mast out of the ocean with our sails hopefully intact, we actually floated onto and caught a 40-foot hunk of floating rope that is about 5 inches in diameter. I am talking about a large hunk of rope. Of course we are out here to do our part and plucked that as well from the sea. It is now sitting on the bow as the forward point that the broken mast is sitting on the deck. No sweat.

This morning was another subject. We are pretty committed to our handy little Volvo 75-horse power diesel to get us to Tristan island. So when the prop started to make a weird noise this morning, 11 of us were immediately startled. Then the shaft started to spin wildly, and it clearly wasn't pushing any water. First thought? Prop is gone. It would be par for the course wouldn't it?

Quick neutral on deck and engine shut off. Three of us went diving for the prop window to see if it is still there. And low and behold there is about a 20-square-foot polypropylene fishing net cocooned on the prop, essentially making the three blades into one ball. Second thought? Whew, the prop is at least still there, but did we do damage?

Next step. Gear up and throw the youngest member of the crew overboard to cut the net loose. "Hey Rome, doing anything for the next 20 minutes or so? Didn't think so. Hope this wet suit fits because the water is a bit chilly."

Over the side and about 20 minutes later, Rome has cut the net loose. We recover it, and it sits on the bow with our other marine clean-up trophy. Third thought? Please, please, please hope that no damage was done to the engine or shaft or propeller.

Kick over our little Volvo diesel and ease her into forward and…voila! Forward speed. Back to normal. A big breath of relief from the entire team. Nice job Rome.

Are we then back on plan? Well, not really. You know that ship that we had organized to come out and get us? It got a better job and ditched us at the very last minute. Yup. You guessed it.

But, our troops on the shore already were on to a plan B before they even told us that plan A had failed. Time is our enemy right now and everyone understands this…time and unknown little disasters that keep creeping into our lives.

So, we are back on track for the moment, awaiting our shipping plan from Tristan to Cape Town from Tim Hacket and Kimo Worthington who essentially are working around the clock and have more balls in the air than a circus clown. The mast team assembled today back in Rhode Island, we had a conference call with them and a plan is in place to upgrade several small fasteners on the mast that we believe one of which may have been what failed. We need a full-blown forensics team out here, or the cast of “CSI Miami,” to find out every little detail. It is really difficult to know the cause for sure because the mast and a lot of the rigging is mangled. You never really know what let go to start the disaster or what damage happened as it came crashing down. But, we have great people on it and everyone is working really hard to make sure this doesn't happen again.

This continues to be a wild emotional roller coaster. Incredible boredom broken up by intermittent, heart-stopping disappointment or surprise. Thank goodness for the iPod. There are about five of them on board making the rounds as we are all sick of our own movies and music at this stage, and we are in a pretty solid rotation.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't mind being bored for the next 2 1/2 days or so because that would mean that we were safely into Tristan and at least another part of the adventure would be complete, and a shipping plan (part 2) would be in place.

Stay tuned. Must-see TV live from PUMA’s Mar Mostro!

Final word from me for the day: Happy birthday, Tory! Love you, Dad.

- Kenny

 

Ken Read

Skipper

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