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Day 210

By Brian Hancock

There has been so much drama and excitement out on the OGR racecourse that I almost forgot to make mention of an important part of racing around the world. Gunwale bum. Yup gunwhale bum, a very technical term for a very delicate problem. So I can hear you asking. What is gunwhale bum? Well how do I put this delicately? Keeping clean (and dry) on a yacht is a nonstop task in tediousness. For a start, there is no keeping clean. In the tropics you can dunk a bucket over the side and scrub off as best you can. Shampoo doesn’t lather in salt water, but dishwashing soap makes a valiant attempt and you can do the best you can. You slather yourself, well you used to until you found out that it was a carcinogen but it’s too late for us that dusted liberally with Baby Powder, you slather yourself in Baby Powder which soon cakes into a chalky mess just as you start to sweat again.

The Southern Ocean is a different beast overall. There is no good way to keep clean. If you are feeling brave, or more than a tad grimy, you can grab a carton of baby wipes and do the best that you can but a warm bunk awaits and soon the wipes are abandoned. Well that addresses the filth. It’s gonna happen and there is not much that you can do about it.

Now let’s talk wet. For most of the race the sailors are wet. They sit on the rail while water (salt water that is) sluices down the gunwhale. Even though these days foul weather gear is pretty darn great, water gets in and you end up with a wet arse. The arse stays wet for the duration of the passage. That’s why drying days are so relished and so important.

So here is where gunwhale bum comes in. The (some might say lethal) combination of a wet arse that has not had a good scrubbing for a good solid month and those particles of grime and very soon patches of Halloween Horror form. They burrow into the delicate skin of your (once smooth derriere) and find a home. It doesn’t take long for them to invite some friends and before you know it you have a whole farm going on in your nether regions. These Little Shops of Horror soon turn to blisters along with a small amount of puss and before you know it, you have got gunwhale bum.

You can have a doctor, or close friend (very close friend because once you have seen a good case of it, you can’t unsee it) but it’s not something that you can wish away. I speak from experience. Thirty years on from my last long passage I still have scars. They are fading but are still there to remind me of just how much fun racing a sailboat around the world. But I digress.

There is other important news to report. Translated 9 are on approach to Madeira, they should arrive this evening, so should their shore team. T9 have apparently loaned a boat to make it back to the finish while the boat is being repaired. But once more I digress.

All across the northern part of the United States is closed for the day and for a change it’s not for a snow day. Today is Eclipse Day. The next full eclipse won’t happen for another 20 years. By the way I agree to this. If there was ever a teaching moment, this is one of them. I have my virgin jello shots at the ready, my special eclipse viewing glass and some fireworks.

More tomorrow. Sail safe everybody, especially (but not exclusively the terrific team on PDVI).

Don’s Daily Tracker Update


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