Volvo Ocean Race - Staying dry onboard Puma's Mar Mostro

On deck. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 6 of Leg 5. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:

'Positions are easily hyped, but everyone’s just looking after themselves. There’s very little boat-to-boat strategy while the focus remains going fast at a heading that’s generally east, and trying not to break anything,' Tom Addis.

The living down here is almost starting to feel normal. Ever since leaving Auckland our days have been drastically different from one to the next, as we departed the land-driven weather of the north and began our descent into the very separate world of the Southern Ocean. But now that we’re here, now that there’s very little up and down, only east, the weather has 'stabilized,' as have we.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment is in the way we handle clothing and staying dry; it’s absolutely essential to healthy existence. I was warned: 'You get wet, you die,' because the air is too damp to dry anything, and the temperatures are too cold to risk sailing wet. So self-sustainability starts with making sure you, and your materials, stay dry as best you can.

Sleeping bags, socks, pants, shirts, fleeces – they’re all essential and our personal bags aren’t big enough to carry spares of everything (though before leaving New Zealand most of us vacu-bagged a few emergency extras). We protect those valuables like you might your firstborn, and develop ways of preserving the little we have. Some of the guys have opted for the survival suits, which keep all water out but they don’t breathe well and you end up sweating, at least as much as you might suffer water ingestion typical of our offshore pants and jackets. There’s no right or wrong solution, and to each his own.

I have a unique set of clothes for sleeping… warm, dry clothes, and those never leave my bunk. Wet feet are inevitable from walking around the boat, so I have a pair of waterproof socks that I also wear in my boots. The socks under those, they get a little damp from sweat, so I have two or three pairs I rotate through while putting the soggy ones in my sleeping bag overnight; it goes a long way to sucking out some of the moisture, but it leaves a repulsive smell that’s a bit like popcorn.

Other than that, there’s not much you can do but wait until we go north towards warmer, drier climates. Only then will we get a chance to place some of the damaged goods on deck for a proper thaw and dehydration.

Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy
Jürg Kaufmann

Puma Ocean Racing website
Volvo Ocean Race website