From the Deck of Prospector 09 July 2300Z



If the definition of wilderness is a place lacking the obvious touch of

mankind then the North Atlantic surely qualifies. We have been out

now for more than a week and other than the first few hours of the

race, we have seen two or three freighters in the distance and, this

morning, another competitor as they crossed in front. That’s it.

Mercifully, we have seen almost not trash. So while we are alone, that

doesn’t mean there is nothing to see. Far from it.

For commercial shipping this wilderness is a really just a highway. A few

see it from the deck of a cruise ship. Most from an airplane window at

40,000 feet. Sailing across gives you an entirely different perspective.

We get to see it up close and personal. And it’s beautiful. The skies

during the day sometimes blue and sometimes boiling with rain squalls,

all reflected in the heaving swell. The seas themselves form their own

unique topography which is fascinating to watch as the crest and

change shape around the boat. At night the stars (when we can see

them) form the perfect dome across which we can easily see satellites

as they blink their tracks across the sky.

While we haven’t seen too much of our two legged brethren, there has

been plenty of wildlife. You don’t see it all the time like in the zoo. But

it’s here and a nearly constant presence. We see a lot of two kinds of

birds. The first are maybe Petrels(?) and they soar among the waves

literally without a wing beat as they use the wind and the air currents

flowing over the waves to create effortless flight. Very fun to watch.

The second are small black birds who flit endlessly in pairs up and down

the troughs of the waves. How many calories they must burn staying

continuously aloft is mindboggling to consider.

Of course everyone’s favorites are the dolphins. We see the white sided

variety multiple times a day. Sometimes they come charging up to the

boat to pay a visit and show off jumping in and out of our wake. At

night they look like torpedoes as the bio luminescence glows in their

wake. Other times they simply pay us no mind as they cross us heading

who knows where. When we were battling big seas the other day, we

saw them leaping out of the sides of literally 40 foot waves. Amazing.

We have seen multiple turtles including yesterday when we saw a huge

leatherback. Indeed, sadly, I think we hit one yesterday with the

rudder. He took a chunk out of the leading edge. Hopefully all he got

was a nasty shock. Yesterday we also saw our first whale, a sperm

whale that surfaced right next to the boat.

The wildlife isn’t only in the sea or in the air. We actually have some

right here on the boat. Most is the microscopic variety which is

inhabiting our clothes and our bunks. By anyone’s definition, too gross

to describe here in this family friendly post. We do, however, have a

larger species on board. The seldom seen Greater North Atlantic

Raccoon. Entirely nocturnal, he is nearly impossible to spot but you

know he is around. Occasionally you can catch him nosing through last

night’s cold freeze dried dinner or worse yet the congealed remains of

the “breakfast skillet”. He leaves candy wrappers in his wake and we

have tracked them to the carbon cave at the back of the boat. If you

shine a light back there all you see are the whites of his eyes and the

gleam of his teeth.

Let me finish today on a different note. In the very trying circumstances

of the day we tangled with Larry’s bear, I saw some outstanding

seamanship on the part of this crew as they handled this hooligan of a

race boat in very big winds and even bigger waves. Tery in particular

stands out as being cool under pressure and steering us away from the

center of the low during the first hour. The guys on the foredeck

wrestling reefs in and hauling down insanely flapping sails. I know that I

felt an absolute enormous responsibility for the safety of the crew and

the boat when I was at the wheel as we thundered down huge waves.

Tim Keyworth and Henry Little did an outstanding job in the dead of

night in zero visibility driving through 40 knot winds and spray while

navigating the mogul fields on the front of the waves. Often at 25 knots

of boat speed in the pitch black. We didn’t wreck once. The experience

only solidified my confidence in this boat, but more importantly, the

whole crew.