Yesterday we jibed the boat for our final approach to Hawaii. Today we have less than 500 miles to complete the race.
On a boat, as in life, all systems are not just related but also interdependent. Our vessel’s diesel engine is not just to power the boat – in fact, we are prohibited by race rules from using it for that purpose. We run it 2 hours daily to generate electricity for our large capacity refrigerator/freezer to preserve our frozen food. It is very efficient, but it does require a lot of electrical power. For our Engineer readers, it draws about 20 amps/hours on a 12-volt circuit. In fact, our first night out we weren’t aware of its massive power requirements and actually drained our 5 batteries to the point that at first try we were unable to start the engine.
It was only through an examination of the wiring and the canceling of all other electrical circuits, and good fortune that we were able to start the motor again. (Personally, I think we’re excessively frugal with electrical power, but as we are relative to this boat I prefer to err on the side of caution.
The motor is also used to desalinate saltwater for drinking. This is critically important. It creates about 10 gallons per hour. In my opinion, it doesn’t compare to bottled water, I find it just barely potable, but it does quench the thirst and provides refreshing showers. Also creating water at sea relieves us of the great weight of having to carry extra hundreds of pounds of drinking water.
For planning purposes, each person represents 650 lbs: approximately 200 lbs for his body and the balance in clothing and consumables. So when taking on more crew it is not just a matter of the space he would occupy – the more weight, the slower the boat travels.
It is also essential that everyone remain hydrated at all times. In fact, on some boat crew become so seasick that they refuse not only food but also water. I’ve heard of one instance in which the Captain had to threaten the seasick crew member with an enema before he would accept water.
Finally, to keep all bodily functions regular, we keep a laundry basket of fruit and vegetables latched to the stern rail. When we started it was full of apples, oranges, cabbage, and a few avocados. Today it is down to a quarter capacity. We have eaten well on this trip.