Bermuda Bound Editor, No. 3

Closing in on the Onion Patch

Navigators, especially this one, don't get much sleep during the Bermuda Race. Currents, changes in wind direction, the 2-hour-long SSB position report radio session in the morning, obtaining weather data, monitoring the course being sailed . . .and just staring at the various screens in the nav station. All these things sap you of time. This time around I've gotten a few catnaps, but no real sleep until this morning (Monday, from 1 to 3 a.m.) It was a two-hour sleep full of dreams I can't remember, and I woke up absolutely bewildered. I knew I was on a boat and that I was offshore; that was easy to figure out because I was on an angle and there was a bagged sail 2 inches away from my face. I didn't, however, know what kind of boat or where that boat was going. After a few minutes staring around, bewildered, I collected my senses and figured out I was, for the eighth time in my life, racing to Bermuda, and that I was on a Swan 45. I won't easily forget those few moments of complete confusion-it was frightening. So it was reassuring to get behind my desk and instruments and check back into the world of reality-facts, and figures. Yesterday had been mostly great, boatspeed wise, an entire 12 hours of positive current and great sailing tempered later by a foul current that lasted for four hours or so. Monday started out tough wth light air and slow VMG. Add to the light air a position report that pushed us from second place down to third, and perhaps even fourth. Better Than, another Swan 45 that was ahead of us on Sunday's sked, was still ahead, and Alliance, another 45, had snuck into econd behind them. Add to that the very well-rated and quick Temptress, an IMX 45, knocking on our door to the East, and we knew we had some work to do. Tonight will be our last night at sea. At 6:00 pm, we're 77 miles from the reefs off Bermuda in decent breeze, and if it sticks around, we're looking at an early-morning finish. We feel we're in a good position both tactically and weather-wise, and hope we've had a good enough day to get some of our competition behind us. The crew and skipper of Plenty have worked hard, suffered the usual offshore hardships cheerfully, and have come together as a team. We've done what humans are so good at-forging an alliance to complete a complex task. Tomorrow could bring victory, a good placing, or just the satisfaction of getting there, but it's something we'll remember doing, and loving, all our lives.