By Brian Hancock
Let’s talk pirates. They exist off the coast of Africa, both coasts, and they are more pernicious than politicians that walk the halls of power all around the world. Politicians, in my humble opinion, will cut your nuts off and be quite pleasant about it. Pirates on the other hand, maybe not quite so restrained. They don’t need to get re-elected after all.
I bring this up because of an incident with the yacht Outlaw, a Baltic 55 skippered by Campbell Mackie. If you listen to Don’s reports (which you should – they are great) and have been following the Yellow Brick (Road?) Tracker you will know that some stuff went down off the coast of Africa in the last 24 hours.
Outlaw was sailing in pleasant conditions when a long canoe pulled up toward them. OK I am Monday Morning Quarterbacking here, but Outlaw was 190 miles away from the closest land and some dude in a long canoe just pulls up with an outboard on the back. Now I am not that smart, I am South African after all, but it would take more than a tank of gas to get 190 miles out to sea. Luckily Campbell Mackie had his radar working, not the one on the boat but the one in his head. There had to definitely be cross currents. Mariners always help mariners, but there had to be something a bit not right about a fit guy with a full tank of gas looking for help. Campbell did the right thing; he offered help, but he did not invite him on board.
The conditions were fairly benign, the YB tracker showing around 10 knots of true wind (apparent even less but we can get into that point of definition in a later report). Right now we have an issue that needs addressing. McIntyre Globe Race HQ got on the stick with security services in Dakar, Senegal. Let me digress for a moment. I have been to Dakar and I am not sure that I would trust their security service any more than I would trust the ‘fresh goat’ on sale at the local market on a blazing hot summer day. But they seemed to be on top of things; they dispatched a ship to help.
Now it does get complicated when a ship gets involved. You can’t just drag some poor guy on board unless he looks like he has spent 76 days in a liferaft (Google it – it’s a great book by my mate Steve Callahan who had indeed spent 76 days in a life raft before he was rescued – Adrift). But again I digress.
The ship’s captain refused to bring the lone guy in his canoe on board and then wouldn’t you know it, a mate of his (not the Captain but the poor bugger apparently awash at sea); the two of them took off back out to sea and into the sunset. Pirates? Maybe. There were no dead bodies in the canoe but we all have a pretty good idea of what might have happened if Campbell Mackie had not decided to tow the guy instead of inviting him onboard for a hearty meal, a sandwich and some cold water. In my opinion, and it really is worth nothing, the entire team from the crew on Outlaw to the McIntyre Race Office to the security people in Dakar did an outstanding job of dealing with a more than tricky situation, goat on sale or not.
I will stick with this pirates theme tomorrow because I have been involved in a pirate situation, not personally, but as a Race Officer.
Meanwhile, back to the race, the on-the-water leader Pen Duick VI is still slopping along in less than ideal conditions. Maiden (of course you know that I love them) and L’Esprit d’équipe ( I love them too) both seem to be kicking some serious butts of their own, and well Maiden, let me take that back, the YB tracker shows them doing a masterful 2 knots.
Somewhere way, way back in a time and place already forgotten, my friends on Godspeed are rocking it at just under seven knots. They are still winning on the Fun-O-meter. Let’s hope that they get a few more knots up the chuff otherwise their stay in Cape Town might be limited to a couple of home-cooked meals and a pint of Castle Lager at the Royal Cape Yacht Club.