Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 10, 2013

WARC vs the Indian Ocean

“Keep your eyes peeled!”

That was the last thing Steve told me before leaving me to go on watch.  A wooden skeleton of a ship had been sighted near where our course was taking us.

The ship bucked and pitched over the swells the slate-grey sky vomiting a steady drizzle down on the little catamaran.  It was a day straight off the pages of a Melville novel.

I said a silent thanks to the Lagoon designers who had had the foresight to put the helm under a waterproof biminy and Steve’s ingenuity of putting plastic “windows” around to protect from errant waves.  The blue canvas bench may still have squished when you sat on it, but at least the worst of the elements were kept at bay.

2,300 miles.  My longest passage to date.  In today’s world 2,300 miles still seems like quite a ways.  Too long to drive by car, it’s even  a fair distance by plane, but  when thinking nautically it takes on whole new meaning.  Sailing is taking it old school, back to the days where you could actually feel the distance rather than whisking to the other side of the world in a matter of hours, or on the outside a day, by plane.

But I wasn’t worried, I had been on long passages before and they weren’t terrible.  The days kind of blurred together doing shifts, cooking, catching fish.  It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.  Besides, we had all sorts of fishing gear with us.  We might have a little excitement on the passage.

Not half a day after leaving the sun-drenched shores of Cocos (Keeling), a curtain of grey had draped its heavy folds over the world with a dreadful finality.  First a drizzle, then a heavier rain fell, damping our spirits and permeating every cranny and crevice of the boat.   The first day was uncomfortable, but we still clung to some shred of hope that it would end.  Until we looked at the GRIB files to see what the weather forecast looked like.

The GRIB files didn’t offer even the smallest sliver of hope.  For days the rain fell.  Slate-grey sky stretched on endlessly.  ARC boats far ahead of us, and to either sides reported rain, rain and more rain.  Everything was damp, clammy, and cold.  And it only got worse from there.

A week into the passage one ARC boat, J’Sea’s, autopilot broke  The autopilot is often referred to as the silent member of the crew.  It plays an integral and often underappreciated part of a boat on any long passage.  Hand steering through rough seas is all but unheard of.

To make things worse, J’Sea only had 2 people on board.  For over a week the captain John and Linda, his crewmate had to hand steer in 2-hour shifts.  By the time they made it to Mauritius they were on the verge of collapse, their hands covered in blisters.

That was a passage of grave Many serious sailors will have elective appendectomies before long passages.  What are you going to do if you’re in the middle of the ocean and your appendix bursts?

Brigit, one of the German boat Juba’s owners, had severe stomach pains and they were all-but certain it was appendicitis.  Another good reason for sailing with the ARC is the support.  Thankfully Juba had heavy duty antibiotics on board and another ARC boat had two doctors on board to talk them through the crisis.  Brigit made it to Mauritius where they immediately took her to the hospital.

The Indian Ocean showed its true colors on passage from Cocos to Mauritius.

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