Friday, May 7, 2010

Pinch Me Please

I still cannot believe I am party to this expedition, however, I am hungry, I mean really hungry, the mainstay of our diet is two survival biscuits at breakfast and dinner, every time I eat one I gag and struggle to stop myself vomiting. To compliment this, we have nuts and raisins for lunch, a whole handful all at once! I'm sick of the bloody things, last week's were sea sodden and akin to eating grandma's old toe nails. To compliment dinner we have a tin of corned beef, 1 tin between 4.  I took one mouthful and proceeded to project overboard at a rate of knots.  With only 400grams allowed each day, I do think better thought could have gone into the menu - where is the nutritionist when you want one! So far on three occasions, and I am told will be approx 50% of the time a replacement for corned beef, we have baked beans, a whole 25% of a can each, and I almost have an orgasm! Sad but true..... Oh God I miss my home help's cooking.... 

Food out of the way.... I'm wet, continually wet, whenever I do manage to get dry, I appear in the cockpit, and surprise surprise, a big wave hits and I'm wet again, sods law.  I have sea salt sores on my bum, crutch rot, I ache, I mean really, really ache in places I didn't know you could ache. My back hurts from sitting at the helm, my neck so stiff as I can't straighten myself under the canvas as if I do I end up with my nose under David Q's unwashed (4 days) arm pit, mine are unwashed too, the bathroom has been continually busy! I try my best not to suffer the indignity of using the toilet for number 2's.  The process is: strip naked, place yourself and in particular your bottom outside the life line 8 inches from the water hanging on for dear life while Bounty Boat surfs down 5 metre waves. Believe me every muscle in your body is under stress while I try my best to relax the one essential muscle to complete the task! Its impossible!! My only solution is is to avoid going for three days so I am so desperate none of the above matters!! 

But there is excitement too. While at the helm, David Q was on look out and commented on an island ahead, then breaking waters 50 metres ahead. BREAKING WATERS!!! That means reefs!! "Bear off ", he shouted. I did so, and as we sailed to safer waters, I wondered what use our reef boots would have been had we ended up on the reef. With 2 metre swells behind us, I could only imagine it smashing our little boat on the reefs. I felt vulnerable, fearful and WET!! On another occasion, Don saw a reef ahead, which seemed to run a long way out, so he took the helm and took us like a bat out of hell again to safer waters, as the boat bashed against the ocean. I wondered if she would survive - she did! and I have a lot more faith in her. 

On this occasion, I found Chris inside the canvas cover and for the first time saw fear in his eyes.  "We are going f****** fast", he commented.  I am sure he would deny his fear, which would be a shame as it proved him to be a very courageous man.  Despite it, he came out on watch and continued his duties,for which he has my utmost respect!! I've heard it said, and agree it to be true that a man who has no fear of the sea,is a lunatic and a liability to be sailing with!! Chris is neither and it is an honor to be sailing with him.  I hope he is very proud of his achievements on-board Talisker Bounty Boat.

On our 4th day, we were sailing in 30 blowing 40 knots of wind, with swells that were reaching 6.5-7 metres in height. My confidence grew as Talisker Bounty Boat sailed gracefully, surfing down the waves sometimes reaching 15+ knots of speed. It was exhilarating, though it made it difficult to get any sleep when off watch. Changing course put us on a beam reach and it became very uncomfortable again. I finished my watch, went under the canvas, removed my life jacket and wet gear, laid down and tried to sleep. A few minutes later we were knocked down, it happened in what seemed like slow motion.  Without any effort on my side I went from horizontal to vertical. Standing on the port side gunnel, I reached across to grab my life jacket and the capsize drill immediately ran through my head. Thanks to the sea survival course in Sydney, I genuinely felt at ease. I saw the water level rise and was ready to bust out of the tent once she had completely turned over when to my surprise she started to right.  I threw all my weight and tried to drag as much of the heavy gear I could to the starboard side to help her in the righting. Once upright, I emerged to see our little boat full of water.  It is very scary to see the water level inside the boat the same as outside. 

There is no better bilge pump than a motivated crew member with a bucket and I can confirm this to be very true!! Don calmly gave instructions to bail quickly before another wave hit us, no one panicked, we just bailed with buckets and cooking pot until our boat was once again stable. With everything now wet and redistributed around the boat, we began trying to create order. Don told me to step down, go back off watch as we sailed as fast as possible seeking protection from Fiji some 45 miles away. I went under canvas, attempted to tidy up, then completely soaked, donned in my life jacket, I put on my wet gear to keep me warm and tried to sleep. The canvas leaked like a sieve as the waves bashed across our bow.  I marveled at how sea worthy Talisker Bounty Boat is and how the crew had come together without drama. David Q came to rest, I tied myself to the starboard bulkhead to stop me rolling on to him, closed my eyes and fell asleep. 

I have never experienced being so completely wet and uncomfortable, sleep deprived, food deprived and seemingly always exhausted.   I struggle mainly with the lack of and selection of food, however I will do my best to eat what is available.  This may seem as if I am complaining, - I'm not. Truth be told, I am loving it.  I feel alive and 90% of the time have a big fat smile in my soul. This experience will be with me for the rest of my life. I am learning about myself, discomfort and perseverance.  I am learning about working with others in close proximity, about respecting and about accepting what is not in my control. Only 40 more days to go..... What else will be out there? David W 

PERSONAL MESSAGE TO MY DAUGHTERS - Lucinda nad Isabelle, I'm having the time of my life, my tummy is slowly disappearing and when I get home I am going to drive you crazy with all the stories - I love you both dearly, say hi to Max - Dad xx


Profpaul said...

Extraordinary blog - wonderfully frank account of a truly scary night. What a great team. Reading between the lines this trip is not going to fail through lack of leadership, sailing skills, morale or the boat. This team will be frightening in 40 days time. I wouldn't want to play against them.

Peg-Leg-Pete said...

Hi All,
You are doing fabulous things out there- and you are making us all jealous with the "Gourmet" menu!

and the En-Suit! what glamor?

all the best

Anonymous said...

Great accounts, excellent sailing...good seamanship...I hope the donations flow as fast as the water under the hull!

Anonymous said...

Awesome Blog Dave W - dam I didn't think the sea sores would have kicked in so fast - thought that would have taken another week or two - guess it's cos you are sleeping and living in wet clothes....... Sounds both terrifying and exhilirating - a real mental challenge - Chris is obviously a pretty strong character and I have no doubt he is thinking "What the F@#$ have I got myself into........?" Pretty sure he is trusting in you Oldies.............OK, Guys stay safe - Kiwis playing Aussies tonight in Annual Anzac test - go the Kiwi's but I doubt it........ Keep smiling - Baked Beans will be heaps good for morale or for winds in your sail but sounds don't you really need that! I know what you mean about that canned meat - even my dog circles it and walks away with a "what I have done wrong?" look!! Take care MJ

Mike said...

You guys all write such wonderfully descriptive blogs. We all feel for you! I was amazed to see Bligh's journal at the Mitchell Library, looking SO pristine, considering the amount of water he (and you) have to contend with! Well done sailor boys. You're doing so well. We expect a new sea-shanty about 'baked beans', when they become part of the menu.
Mike (Sydney)

Ken said...

Bonkers! I hope no one brought any sharp objects!

magpie said...

This post was frighteningly real..."believe me every muscle in your body is under stress while I try my best to relax the one essential muscle to complete the task!"... Very funny But scary. ☺♫☺ Fart-the-well ☺♫☺

Greg said...

Truly amazing. As a keen dinghy sailor when I was growing up and now a surveyor with some knowledge of navigation, I am awe struck at what you guys are attempting to acheive. Undertaking this voyage in an open boat requires great courage but the mind boggles to thing about dodgeing reefs in bad weather with no charts etc. The personal accounts of your hardships seem absurd as I read them in the comfort of my home, but I am sure you will be the greater for having reached into the depths of your tenacity and courage in your endeavours. Best Wishes, Greg

Anonymous said...

Awsome post and hope you guys are all ok. Aussies just beat the kiwi's in the annual ANZAC test......not sure how ..........must have been a crap!! Aussies deserverd it fair and square - and oh god it hurts me to say that!! Anyway - your food sounds horrible but guess that's what Bligh and his mate's went through...hope you can cope with it - the continual wet clothes will be the biggest nightmare and the sores that they will generate.........thinking of you all and hoping you are tucked up somewhere dry and drinking Coconut juice etc, etc, and harvesting rain..take care - when I wake up in the middle of the night in my really comfy bed I do think of you!!! Sail safe for an amazing cause! MJ

Anonymous said...

Any news as of when they should go back at sea?

QUESTION to Stuart: do you know if during the present voyage, the moon stages & nights are the same than they were during Bligh's voyage? This could explain why the TBB ran into the reefs while Bligh didn't, assuming that maybe Bligh had some moonlight helping him during the first part of his voyage, where this is most likely to happen since they're nearing islands etc.


Montréal, Canada

Patron Stuart Keane said...

Hi Eric Tessier,
Good Question, I will look into this for you.
Cheers Stuart

Gary said...

Hiya, wow what an amazing update

Can somebody tell me are the crew picking up these postings.

Megan said...

This blog has become my daily dose of the greatest reality show on earth. Im feeling your pain Dave.
Keep strong and know that so many people are with you on this voyage. Keep safe - its a lifetime journey and we need you alive to tell the story.What suffering you are going through for so many. Megan HK

Hugo said...

Congratulations!! Your blog entry is fantastic! I couldn't stop laughing all the time. I wish I were there (really?).
Hugo from Argentina

Toni McLean said...

Wow, very graphic descriptions of life aboard TBB! And a very scary journey. I've experienced really uncomfortable conditions - wet all over, starving (I was constantly seasick while sailing so no point eating because practically everything came back up again), scared witless etc - for a while, but I've always been in the position of knowing that it would only be a matter of hours or a day or two before I would be dry and snug again. Not another 40 days!

I'm afraid by about now I'd be calling for a taxi and calling Don very rude names! So I am impressed by all of you.

Hope you continue to stay safe, and hopefully a bit drier.