Friday, April 11, 2008

Nimbus Blue in 29th Place After 3 Races

Great work for our sailors today- right up there with the fleet and looking competitive despite the lack of training time- the rest of the competitors have been sailing with the same team for years, and have been practicing for weeks while our Midshipmen have been hitting the books- or at sea for 6 months in the case of the Helmsman M/N Chris Branning. Here is a bit of what he was doing at sea; a big switch from driving a grand prix race boat in a world championship regatta-

Welded on the aft side of the engine stack is a swing. It's a nice swing, despite it's painted a dull red and the wood is starting to splinter. I couldn't imagine a worse place to have a swing, as the engine stack is constantly blowing some sort of exhaust, whether the main engine is running or not. Soot and embers float down from the black giant peppering the deck with carbon specks. The fuel burned is not exactly what you would call low emissions, and the sulfur concentration is high enough to make your eyes burn. On top of burning 40 tons of fuel a day, it's also loud as hell. But other than that, it's got a great view. The boson asked me to stand on the swing and begin chipping its top bracket.

Since the engine room smoke stack is directly behind the house rising well past the O-3 deck, it creates a vortex of funneled wind. As the rust chips became more and more they started swirling about like a brown tornado that would simply not go away. As the tiny particles flew everywhere, into my socks, hair, gloves, mask, goggles, and somehow my underwear it started hailing. I was standing on a swing gripping with one hand to its rusty chain for dear life while trying to chip rust with the other, all in a 60 knot hail storm. The swing was doing what swings do, swinging back and forth beneath my feet unpredictably which all things aside, would, actually make for a pretty good core workout. We had now started to get our ass kicked so hard by the seas that when really big waves came they would push the ship backwards and the stern deck would actually dig into the water. As if the conditions couldn't get any gnarlier the winds were so strong they blew an ABs protective eye glasses straight off his face. I don't remember reading about any of this in the brochure.

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