As we get further and further into the Caribbean, everyone is wearing their wetsuits less and less. The temperature is hot, in and of the water, even at night. The final days between our distance goal, and the white sandy beaches of the Blue Haven, have continued to be testing ones. Considering we only planned provisions for being at sea for 21 days, and now are at day 27, our rations are depleting fast. We finished off the end of our milk and juice two days ago, and the last bottle of water yesterday. The only drinkable liquids left is the tap water supplied by the water maker. It doesn’t taste the best, but we are making due.
Our equipment is seeing the wear and tear as well. We had another kite explode due to having a GoPro attached to the leading edge. We also lost our favorite board of the trip as Ike did a backroll kiteloop, came down too hard, and broke it nearly in two. We are almost out of batteries, and have only enough to power the few lights we have left to continue riding at night. Our VHF’s have been failing, leaving us just enough to keep operations going, and have lost function of all of our dog trackers, making watch much more intense not having a way to locate a rider if visual is lost.
Even the wetsuits and vests are looking faded after being in the sun and salt water for so long. Our bodies have been holding up well, but the wear and tear is showing on us too. Filippo and I both have been going without wetsuits the longest, and have bloody bandaged up sides to prove it. As you look around each of us seem to gain a bandage or a bruise each time you look.
We have faced some intense night time weather systems, with squalls causing the wind to range from 11-38kt’s and back again. During one launch procedure, Dennis got hooked onto the dinghy, and was drug underwater underneath it, facing the real chance of being drowned, if it wasn’t for our amazing Captain Erik Van Vuuren who knew how to react fast enough in order to get the tension off, and return him to the surface before it was too late. What a scary feeling it is to see your teammate disappear underwater. On another night session I down looped the kite to shoot down a large wave and got too much slack in the lines, dropped the kite, inverted it, and caused the entire team to have to stop dinner in order to turn around and rescue me as I lay again in the dark open water in strong winds and large swell.
We have all had to face fears and challenges out here in so many ways. For me a large one was being left sitting in the water, and it felt amazing to be able to have one more chance to test myself and being able to keep a calm mind. It is only by facing your fears, that you overcome them. At other times it has been wildlife, others going out into the darkness with lightning flashes and squalls around. For each of us the test has been different, yet as a team, were facing them all together. As we all took one of our final night rides underneath the almost full moon, we soaked up every second of it. The moon stayed bright all through the night giving each of us the chance to appreciate mother nature in all of her might and beauty. Sometimes it looks like you are staring downhill in the moonlight as far as you can see, then again in an instant it appears you are looking uphill just as far. I had the gift of the moonset to sunrise session, as I entered the water with the bright round orange moon nearing the horizon, while at the same time the sun beginning to rise behind me.
Afterwards while back on board, watching Camilla close out her personal 1000km’s, we had yet another test of how easily thing can go wrong out on the open water. Ike went to the back of the boat to scoop out a bucket of sea water, and in a instant was pulled into the ocean and out of the boat. MOB. Thankfully Captain Erik just happened to be looking back as it happened, and managed to make a quick rescue, turning the yacht around, and going back to pick him up. Yet another reality check, because when Ike does sleep, which isn’t very often, he typically disappears for a couple of hours at time. Had Captain Erik not looked back when he did, it could have been very easy to find out much later, “wheres Ike” and by then could be a search and rescue with the odds against us.
With everyone back on board, we continue to recognize once again how lucky we are to have made it this far. Ike and Max are still taking every session to battle each other as the untouchable race record holders. Ike today set it at 72.99, only for Max to follow up with a 74km. Each always pushing it just a little harder. With less than a day left at sea, before the final goal of this mission is accomplished, Turks and Caicos is looking very close on the map. We anticipate setting foot on the other side soon, all of us!