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Day 21

By Brian Hancock

Good Sunday morning. Sorry to miss yesterday but I had a very personal matter to attend to. While I was offline four boats bumped over that milestone line; the equator and entered my part of the world. The Southern Hemisphere. I grew up in South Africa. From now on it’s all free sweets (candies for you Americans), and a fast ride into Cape Town; or not, but I will come back to that.

Crossing the equator is a big deal for most mariners. There is a big initiation ceremony where King Neptune comes on board and demands a price to be paid for those sailors that have not previously done an equator crossing. It usually involves a lot of food scraps, perhaps a flying fish or two that has been left to rot in a bucket out in the tropical heat. The festering mess is then spooned over the heads of the new initiates. If Neptune is in a good mood the slop can be washed off in a few minutes, but if not it has to sit there for an hour or so until it cakes hard enough to be used in building construction. It’s not pretty, but it is necessary; Neptune has to be appeased otherwise your trip south will be messy.

The crew on Pen Duick VI were the first to cross into the Southern Hemisphere, followed but the Finns on Spirit of Helsinki. Next were the Italians on Translated 9 who seem to have found a wind lane that Maiden didn’t find and have pulled 30 miles ahead from their nemesis. They have had a hard fought battle down the African coast and it’s likely to continue through the South Atlantic.

It’s a well known fact that light and variable winds, or no wind at all can bring grown men (and women) to tears. Seems like the McIntyre Ocean Globe fleet are weathering this tricky part of the world with great seamanship, although I am not on board any of the boats and can’t account for any knife fights that may or not have happened. Sailors like (and need) wind. It’s a long way around the world and there is going to be some tricky sailing ahead for all the competitors.

The South Atlantic is like a road in Africa; full of potholes. It’s going to take some clever intuition by the skippers and navigators (remember that this is a retro race so fancy computer weather downloads are not available) and it’s a huge chunk of ocean before they get to Cape Town. But the sun will be out and that’s a good thing.

I just want to rise to a point of personal privilege here and I appreciate you all reading and commenting on my posts. My friend Kate Laird died this week of breast cancer. We gave her a good send off with a huge bonfire on a lake in New Hampshire. In Kate’s memory all I can say is, ladies keep an eye on those precious things…

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