Friday, September 19, 2008

ABANDON SHIP!!! Puma Ocean Racing

PUMA Ocean Racing successfully completes Safety Training School. Rick Deppe reports.

I couldn't say with any certainty how much time had passed since the MAYDAY and subsequent ABANDON SHIP call had gone out.

But there I was standing there in my survival suit, waiting to jump into the icy water below, knowing that we would have to form a safety circle and take a head count before swimming crocodile style to our life raft. This was a daunting task and the crew knew that by the time we got to the life raft we would be exhausted.

As night fell, one of our big guys, Shannon Falcone was able to right the raft allowing us to climb in as per our training. Skipper Ken Read then called for another head count.

1! Kenny shouted 2... Jerry Kirby bellowed
Then silence... where's 3?... It's Michi someone yelled... Louder Michi!!!... sree (three in his German accent)... said Michi in the quietest shout I have ever heard
4...Capey... 5! Justin...on and on through the entire crew.

Sidney Gavignet is number 10, one before me. When it came to my turn I prepared to belt it out big time but couldn't tell if it came out as a roar or a whimper...11. The noise of the wind inside the raft was deafening. Thunder and lightening was all around us and the sky filled with huge flashes of light. The water inside our raft was already ankle deep from the waves washing in over the side, and the rain seemed to find its way in everywhere. This sucks I thought.

And finally number 12, Shannon, our extra man was safely onboard. Relief, all twelve members of PUMA Ocean Racing accounted for and present.

Thankfully, this wasn't for real but was in fact the PUMA Ocean Racing team completing the two day Volvo safety course in the UK alongside the Irish Green Dragon team.

As Volvo Ocean Race sailors, we take safety very seriously and the events of the last race are never far from our minds. We're fully prepared for the worst, but I hope we never have to put our skills to use.

-Rick Deppe