Earthrace crosses the Atlantic in record time

Posted By on May 5, 2008

earthrace leg 1 in 2008
Earthrace has crossed the Atlantic (May 5) and has had a great run (see previous posts). They are 800+ nautical miles ahead of record time although they spent several days bashing through seas (literally through the waves). Yesterday the seas moderated and were following which made for more comfortable travel. Perhaps the latest pains have been comfort … one which includes a “plug bog” (inoperable toilet). They have resorted to a bucket as sailors often do … and have done for thousands of years.

Here’s a bit from Captain Pete Bethune’s log dealing specifically with ‘biodiesel’

“This weather looks crap”, Rob says to me as we come crashing through another wave. The seas have been relentlessly on our bow for the last six hours and the strain is just starting to show on the crew. I glance down at Adam who is trying to sleep but without success. He’s bouncing up and down on the bed as we crash through each wave. Down beside him is a small puddle of what looks like orange juice. Who’d be stupid enough to take liquid down there, I wonder to myself.

A few minutes later I glance back down, and the small puddle has suddenly morphed into two inches deep of bright yellow liquid sloshing all through the sleeping quarters, and rising steadily. Within seconds we discover one of the inspection hatches on the main fuel tank has pulled and biodiesel is gushing out. The challenge though is the hatch is very low, and if we pull it off to fix it, we’ll lose half our total fuel all through the boat. Which would also leave us stuck in the middle of the Atlantic with insufficient fuel tPuertoto Puerto Rico”.

“Get me some wood” I yell at Mark, who still seems half asleep. He scurries off to the engine room, while Adam and I work at holding the lid down as best we can. Meanwhile biodiesel continues to leak, covering our legs, arms and clothes. GrabbingMakitaew Makita cordless saw we cut a couple of pieces of wood and chock them between the lid and the bunk, providing a temporary fix at least. A little bit of fuel still sneaks out the side, but noting like what it was.

We then get the sidewinder jack and brace it between the lid and the bunk. Within seconds of cranking the handle the flow stops, and the lid is sealed. That was close, I think to myself. If it had happened at night you might not know about it until the fuel made its way to the bilge pumps, which would involve a huge amount of fuel. I look around the carnage in the sleeping quarters. Bedding, clothes, shoes, tools, spare parts and equipment are all covered in biodiesel. The slippery liquid is all through the boat, making our floor a health and safety officer’s worst nightmare. Adam has already started cleaning up.

It’s an hour later before we finally stow away the tools as best we can. “”Thank God it wasn’t normal diesel”, Adam say to me with an exhausted look on his face. I look up at him. He is completely covered in the fluid, and his face is bathed in sweat You need people like him on a boat.


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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