Freeze Dried Dreams

Freeze Dried Dreams

Every ocean race is scenic in its own way. The Transatlantic has the vast ocean. Bermuda has the dramatic color changes as you cross the Gulf Stream. They are pretty to be sure but Rolex Middle Sea is unique in our experience. The sheer beauty of the Island of Sicily and the associated out islands is really hard to describe. The water is deep right to the shore and it draws you in. We have sailed hard by little fishing villages and soaring cliffs. Dramatic lighthouses winking their warning as you sail by close enough to nearly touch them. 

Larry writes eloquently about the complexities of our sailing routes and the navigational challenges; of which there are many on a course like this. I have been chosen as the lifestyle reporter today which I suspect is a dubious honor. When asked about distance racing, I am always asked two things: what do you eat and how do you sleep?

First we eat freeze dried food to save weight and for simplicity. Water is very heavy so we make our own from seawater and then Collette sets about boiling it on our camp stove in a huge pot. With these modest tools she produces Mexican chicken, beef stroganoff, chicken teriyaki, and lasagna. These are names only as the real differentiator is color. In the morning everyone’s favorite is breakfast skillet. It is amazing the vast quantities of this extremely modest fare our young guns Scotty and Lucien can consume. It really is inhuman. They eat it morning, noon and night. They mix the leftovers together with hot sauce, ketchup and god knows what. 

For sleeping, we all share bunks. Yep…it’s as unappealing as it sounds. Collette, Tery and Larry because of their uneven schedules get their own, which I guess is fair. There is a hierarchy in bunks and as a watch captain and owner, I get a good one. Tim Keyworth is my bunk mate and a better one I could not have. He even leaves a chocolate on my pillow after my evening watch.The combination, however, of freeze dried food and interrupted sleep patterns produces two side effects: crazy dreams and gas. I won’t belabor the second. You get it. Closed up boat, 14 men. The dreams, however, are an endless source of conversation. I always say dreams are like mix tapes; no one wants to hear yours but out here once you have run through every line in nearly every movie (Talladega Nights is a huge favorite), other people’s dreams do take on a certain level of interest. Scotty in particular has an exceptionally unique dream cycle that can be both enormously amusing and slightly disturbing at the same time.  

We are sailing though and that takes priority. Everyone says this race has a “bit of everything”. To which we nod knowingly and say you have to be prepared. Well it really does. We have had less than zero wind to the point where driving a nail into your skull with a hammer would be more fun. We have had some gorgeous sailing in 15 knots jib reaching thru the islands. Last night we had a hard beat in 20 knots of breeze with our (gasp) foul weather gear on. 

As I write we are approaching Lampedusa Island off the coast of Tunisia. It is the foothold to Europe that many of the migrants from North Africa and beyond try to reach in search of a better life. Sadly many don’t make it. We just saw a patrol boat out on the horizon and it doesn’t escape me the juxtaposition of us racing by in expensive yachts with so many, so nearby in desperate straits. 

We press on. As night gets ready to fall, for the third time we are fighting for a podium position. Larry has put us in the right spots, the wind Gods have smiled on us more than they have frowned, the crew has sailed well and Ricky Bobby has kept us motivated. We can nearly see Malta and a few malt beverages but first another long night of freeze dried dreams.

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