By Brian Hancock
“Grey lady blow your ships back home.”
That’s the name of a song that Simon Le Bon, he of Duran Duran, wrote after we sailed together in the ‘85/86 Whitbread Round the World Race. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song and on the rainy Saturday morning where I sit looking at the gaggle (is that the right word) of turkeys (maybe it’s a flock) that come to my door for their breakfast. After I just wrote about my friend Derek Hatfield (RIP) capsizing at Cape Horn, it somehow seems fitting. Although I am still writing this through tears. Why is it when you get older you tear up more? But I digress. Actually I will come back to the song but let’s look at the OGR race and the amazing sailors that are spinning the world on its axis this time around.
It’s a mish mash of mashed potatoes out there (only without butter and salt, even though the sailors are getting plenty of salt water in the face). It’s a weird weather pattern. Truthfully it used to be quite easy. You took what you could get and were grateful, and I am not implying that these great sailors in the OGR are not grateful, but it’s so much more unpredictable. In the years that I sailed those southern seas you knew that you were going to get walloped and suited up for battle and got on with the job. Right now it’s a bit confusing. You would look like a fool if you were fully suited up for battle and the wind had crap*ed out and there you were, full-on foul weather gear and life jacket just hoping for the best. And nothing happened.
The Dark Horse in this gig is Maiden. I guess that they don’t take weekends off. They are ‘averaging’ 10 knots which means, and I can tell you this from experience, that they are going down the front side of a wave at 20 knots, then sitting wallowing in the trough (actually a real word), and there you sit there until the next wave comes in long and hard (sorry Tracy). It’s what makes sailing the Southern Ocean so much fun. But when you sit and wallow, you are not going that fast and that’s what an average means. A bit of the fast and fun and a bit of the low and slow. Pretty much what all my teenage girlfriends told me to do. I had no idea; I was just fumbling.
If you listen to that beautiful song, (Google it – Grey Lady – Simon Le Bon) and for me, I don’t like music very much. It sticks in my head and goes around and around which my late mother-in-law called it an earwig. (I loved her too – so much), but… maybe because I am feeling sentimental this Saturday morning, if you listen to the song that Simon sings “salt of my tears.” Now you have to be a good writer to be that good. I’m trying, but I still have the salt of my tears on my face thinking of Derek. (And my mother-in-law).
Anyway… Evrika is booking it like a kid with their dad’s credit card in a Walmart with just 20 minutes to buy stuff before his Dad finds out. Just having some fun. Back to the song. I really love this song.
”We are lying in the palm of your hand.” How do you even come up with such a great lyric?” I try, but I fall short. Maybe I should go back to sailing.
Neptune and Triana seem to have hit a bit of a road block and have slowed down. Both boats are doing just under 7 knots. Not that much speed for that part of the world but it’s a strange weather pattern and all of the fleet is muddling (nautical term) through it as best they can.
I’m doing the best that I can. It’s going to snow here (bigly – what kind of word is that but he became President of the United States) but I digress. I need to batten down the hatches, reheat last night’s dinner (which was delicious by the way and always tastes better the next day) and leave you all, and there will be more tomorrow. I can assure you of that, “salt of my tears.”
And just one last thing. I do love Tracy Edwards, founder of Maiden. I like to poke her every now and then just because I know that she can take it. Tracy is one of the loveliest people that you will ever meet and it’s just fun. I have known her for almost 40 years back when we were both wharf rats.
I guess in some ways we still are; all of us sailors, Don included, and it was a helluva good time for us all.