If you've ever seen the film 'South Pacific', you might think it’s all Elvis Presley having fun on desert islands. All I can say is that the movie is set in a very different part of the Pacific Ocean than we are seeing on board my boat Switzerland.
Winds have regularly been around 30 knots which makes for some wild waves and choppy sailing. A few of the crew who thought they had become accustomed to the motion of the boat have been reaching for their sea sickness tablets. What's worse is that the wind has been coming from the north-west - the direction we wish to travel. Though we can make progress, it's long and slow work. And it's hampered by sudden squalls which we have to avoid.
The Clipper Race organisers have already decided that this race from Australia to Singapore will be shortened as the twelve boats are making such slow progress. We will use our engines to complete several hundred miles of the route as winds there are expected to be too light for the fleet to make progress. But that is still several days away.
In the meantime, we continue the routine on board. Each day, two of the crew are assigned to mother duty which means they have to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for twenty people. Breakfast is usually cereal (though occasionally we make our own bread). Lunch is often some sort of salad with pasta or rice - the mothers have to be creative as the fresh vegetables we bought in Brisbane have pretty much run out. While dinner usually consists of meat from our two freezers with some more pasta or rice or maybe couscous.
All this prepared on one stove in a galley that is at a steep angle and is bouncing along with the waves. And the cooling winds which refresh the crew on deck don't reach the mothers - it's hot and thirsty work keeping the crew fed.
The warm weather though has seen the return of a boat tradition - Happy Hour (though it only lasts 30 minutes). When conditions are calm, the whole crew gather on deck at dinner time for some fun and games. Because the crew are divided into two watches who are on duty at different times, it's a chance to have a chat and a laugh with members from the watch you rarely are able to talk to.
One of the watches is asked to prepare some entertainment for Happy Hour.So far, we've had sing-songs, joke-telling and I even composed some limericks (We panic when the navigation station calls, because they're on the lookout for squalls...) to provide a few laughs. But one of the most interesting Happy Hours was when the other watch composed ten questions to ask our skipper Vicky - she gamely answered them though she may not have wanted to!
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