by Ken Read
Skipper Ken Read leads the crew of Puma’s "Mar Mostro" against the crew of the Team Bremen in a game of basketball while bound for Cape Town and the start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Puma's Mar Mostro is only a few miles out of Cape Town, aboard the container ship Team Bremen. Skipper Ken Read provides this 'Update from the Helm' as he reflects on what has gone by, and what lies ahead for the US flagged Volvo Ocean Racer:
6 December 2011
Day 31. Can you imagine? A 31-day, leg No. 1. We did it all by sea. No planes, trains or automobiles. Still on track to go around the world via water. Can't say 'sailed' around the world or 'went around the world on our own bottom' anymore. But we have certainly done this entire 31-day odyssey all by water.
The troops are restless. Today is the first day that the entire group on board is a bit grouchy. We have all had our moments but for sure the end is near and we can smell Cape Town. Less than 150 miles left as I write with an ETA of about 11 pm local time tonight at the shipping port in Cape Town. The job list on the boat is for the most part complete, at least complete with the tools and material that we have available out here. The natives are restless. This ship and its constant 20-degree role and vibration, and the diesel noise and oily smell has pretty much run its course. Time to go now. Don't get me wrong, the Team Bremen has been a godsend along with its entire crew. But, it is time to get off.
For a while I didn't think this adventure would ever end. Right now, it looks like it will. And, in the nick of time. If all goes well, we should make the In-Port Race on Saturday and the Leg 2 start Sunday. Just shy of a miracle, seeing we were well over 2,000 miles away from Cape Town with no mast, little diesel and limited food about 17 days ago. Thanks to the drive and energy and creative thinking of a huge amount of people, we look to be in reasonable shape to get back into this race. That is all we could have ever asked for.
Breakfast for PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG onboard the "TEAM BREMEN," bound for Cape Town and the start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa, after dismasting and retiring from Leg 1. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)
Without families that understood our predicament, a shore team that can handle nearly anything, sponsors who were committed and friends who cared, getting back into the race by Leg 2 would have never happened. Our sailing team has fed off of the sailing world’s reaction to our adventure. It has been the reason to get up in the morning and go to work in different settings daily. It has helped create a drive toward making our boat competitive again. Reminders that there is a race to compete in but at the same time, to sit back and take in this bizarre set of circumstances which has been our 'adventure' on Leg 1.
One of the things that I said repeatedly during press dealings pre start in Alicante was that I would sit back and take in this adventure more than I did last time. To look around, enjoy the beauty, absorb the opportunity while sailing around the world. I was amazed during my last trip around the planet that it took me nearly 3/4 the way around the track to really start taking notice of what we were actually doing. Very few people get to say they sailed around the world. This time I decided early on to take it all in. BUT, dear lord, I never in a million years thought that this sort of adventure was what I would be referring to.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG and the crew of the "TEAM BREMEN," have a BBQ while bound for Cape Town and the start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa, after PUMA was dismasted and retired from Leg 1. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)
Connecting to the sea and its surroundings is something mariners have done for centuries. But, I think we may have taken it a step or two too far, don't you think? This is a race after all. Sure it is a human adventure but with a common theme which is to compete. Our competition in its practical definition ended 17 days ago, and our new definition began – to get the crew and the boat back to civilization in one piece in order to rejoin our fellow VOR teams in a race.
One thing that I am very proud of is the fact that this sailing team has stuck together like I had only hoped it would. Everyone still is enjoying each other’s company, everyone is still pulling their weight, all are ready to go racing again. Our fear, of course, is that we have only put ourselves in position to get onto the race course again in a similar set up to where we were when the mast came crashing down. Or maybe even a little behind that point, barring any problems with fitting our spare mast. Will that be enough to be competitive in Leg 2? Can we move ahead as a team and get faster just by talking about it and not actually going out and practicing? How quickly will we reacquaint ourselves with our sailing positions and roles on the boat? These are all valid questions that only time will tell. I guess the last part of our adventure.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG's "Mar Mostro" rests onboard the "TEAM BREMEN," bound for Cape Town and the start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa, after dismasting and retiring from Leg 1. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)
Typically we have a couple weeks to rest and relax and give my fingers a chance to rest from these blogs. That is surely good for all of us, so you don't get sick of Amory and me wandering off on a tangent about daily life onboard a VO 70. This time you won't be so lucky. In five days you will likely hear from us again but hopefully this time talking about other boats and tactical situations that have taken place that have either worked for or against us.
Man, I certainly hope that is what we are talking about.
So, bye for now. And again, thanks to all for bringing this crazy 31 days to a close. We couldn't have done it without you.