Thursday, March 26, 2009

Running out of fuel and food...

Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race Green Dragon go fishing as food runs low, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro
Green Dragon have reached the 40 day mark, the last few days onboard have been long and slow. Today conditions have improved and the Dragon is now up to speed again and making good progress towards Rio. Just 700 miles remain on this epic leg for Ian Walker and his crew, and whilst the weather looked to be against them yesterday as Telefónica Blue closed the gap to within 50 miles. Today brings better news as the distance between them has increased again to over 160 miles. Green Dragon have managed to escape the high pressure that has been a trap for them in the last week.

The Dragon is now in good breeze and sailing at a steady 15 knots.

Volvo’s race expert Mark Chisnell filled us in, “They all had the east or south-easterly wind direction that would be expected to flow anti-clockwise above the high, at 12 o’clock relative to the centre. And in the case of Green Dragon, it was veritably howling, blowing 20 knots.”
Elsewhere Ericsson 3 who were leading the fleet home to Rio have pulled the stealth play out of the bag today at 10:00 GMT, the current routing has them arriving into Rio approximately 9 hours ahead of their sister ship Ericsson 4, who also deployed stealth play at 1600 GMT.
Update from onboard: “We are still in the grips of the ever expanding high pressure. Last night and this morning was the calmest I have ever seen the sea. We went hours and hours without even seeing a ripple on the surface. The crew continue to work hard to move forwards as every mile we get north will help us get in the wind sooner. Right now it looks like we will have to endure another six days to get to Rio. Not good considering our first ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) 4 days ago was tomorrow!

Our fuel situation has become critical as the alternator on the generator isn’t working and we are having to charge off the main engine which takes more fuel. We have switched off all non essentials and are trying not to move the keel (which draws a lot of power) and have calculated we have 6 days left. I think it will still take us 6 days to get to Rio but I am scared of making any more predictions. We have approximately 5 meals left and a bit of porridge so nobody will starve but this is on top of being hungry for weeks - each watch now has its own ration pack and a black market is rapidly developing.

I am not one to dwell too long on any misfortune. Last night I lay on the foredeck looking up at the mast and sails listening to my ipod pondering our situation and I thought of all the thousands of people who would love to go sailing across an ocean on a fantastic boat like this and those who never had that chance. We have that opportunity and we will continue to make the most of it despite less than ideal circumstances. See you in Rio soon I hope!”

Green Dragon Skipper Ian Walker

Read the rest of Ian Walker’s blog here.