White Ocean Racing

Reports 12 November

12 November - First Broadcast from Toe in the Water.

Audio Clip courtesy Trigone/VendeeGlobe

First Broadcast from Toe in the Water

Britain's Steve White (Toe in the Water) reported in to today's live radio broadcast that he was dealing with several issues which had affected him since his rushed departure from Les Sables d'Olonne. White said he had suffered a small electrical fire, had blown a hose off his recently installed generator several times during the first 36 hours of the race filling his boat with a mix of diesel fumes and steam.

On the first night the exhaust blew off the generator four times which filled the boat with diesel fumes and water, and then a pin fell into the battery box and shorted out between the live terminal and the carbon of the boat, and caused a small fire, and so filled the boat with burning epoxy, smell and had a bit of a diesel leak, and I had quite a lot of water in the boat as well, and there was an awful lot of unsecured gear flapping around so I did not really have a very good time for the first 24 hours. I am getting there slowly, but if I can fix the keyboard then I can start turning some blogs, and I am just trying to take it easy on my elbow really, I have some problems with it, and I have a hideous cold, but other than that I am quite fine really, the sun is shining and I have my new spinnaker up, and so I am quite happy really."

"I have been living on adrenaline for weeks and so to go out through the canal with all these people is just, well, unlike anything most people will experience in their lives. It gave me the most enormous lift, and as soon as I got going, and went down stairs and saw the chaos, where things had literally been chucked down stairs, and the breeze started to build and the adrenaline wore off, and then the problems with the generator, and the fire and the adrenalin started to wear off, you suddenly start to realise how tired you are, and so I have been absolutely exhausted for the first 48 hours, and every now and then I stick my head out of the hatch and there is no one around and I am sailing around the world on my own....well the first bit anyway"

12 November - Steve's first Blog.

Well, I finally have some semblance of order after what has been a few days of what can only be described as chaos! I now finally have the chance to write and to explain my lack of communiction.

Start day for me was a tremendous experience, if some what of a blur. We were literally throwing stuff down the hatch up until the last minute before we left the dock. Simon from bluQube drove the boat out and down the canal as I stood on the front and did my impression of the Queen Mother - I have never waved so much in my entire life. Nothing can prepare you for the experience of thousands of people waving, shouting and cheering at you personally as you set off, and the lift that it gives you is enormous. With a send off like that there is no way you could ever do anything other than your very best on the race course.

However, the first night at sea bought me back to reality with a bump. I was absolubtely exhausted after three weeks of frantic preparation,and it all caught up with me at once. The sore throat that had a appeared a few days before turned into a dose of man flu, and as we got bounced around through Monday night I began to feel pretty wretched. We had a diesel leak downstairs in the cabin, which made everything very slippery, I fell over and banged my head on the side of the boat pretty hard and saw stars for a while - luckily I didn't damage the boat though! The exhaust blew off the generator three times and filled the boat with diesel fumes and black water, and to top it all when I finally snatched a few minutes sleep at the chart table, I awoke to a boat full of acrid smoke - there was a fire in the battery box! A bolt had dropped out of a spares box, into the battery compartment, and had shorted out between the positive terminal on a battery and the carbon fibre hull of the boat which was blazing quite nicely. I poked the bolt out of the way and poured a cup of dieselly bilge water on it to stop it smoking. I have never had a boat fire before, and it was a strange feeling to have your own personal island going up in smoke; that would not have been good! To top it all I found my nice wireless keyboard swilling around in the bilge as I was sitting down there on firewatch.

Tuesday was a much better day, it was my birthday. I had lots of messages from friends and some presents from Kim and the kids. Kim bought me a Rubiks Cube, not the ordinairy one that I had when I was a boy, (incidentally, I couldn't do that one either!) but a super dooper one with 16 cubes a side rather than 9! Luckily I think I can stretch the jobs out on the boat for long enough so that I never have to open it! I tried to repair my keyboard too, but alas, it was too far gone. Mark had left me with a spare one luckily, but it is a bit rubbery and stiff so you need Ninja fingers to operate it!

Today I am feeling much better. My support strap from Doctor Spike at MSOS has pretty much seen off my tennis elbow, I have had curry for supper, which is not only the best thing for a cold but probably the best food in the world, the dolphins are outside, and things are getting tidy in the boat. I have my brand new Toe in the Water spinnaker up, and it is tee-shirt weather on deck with a bright full moon showing through the clouds.

Tomorrow will be a busy day again going through the boat sorting things out, but generally all is very, very well in my world. Every now and again I stick my head out of the hatch, take in the scenery, and remind myself of what I am doing - I have to pinch myself so I know that it's really happening!

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