Earthrace – the last run on its 2007 record attempt (Part 2)

link to image Earlier this year – in May – we had a chance to participate for a few days on the attempt of Earthrace to break the UIM world record for circumnavigation with their bio-diesel boat.
(this post a continuation of the post Earthrace – the last run on its 2007 record attempt (Part 1) )

We have (together with another company) sponsored their last leg on their attempt to break the world record during 2007. On their web site there is now information that their second run to break the record will commence in March 2008 from Valencia, Spain. Good luck with that…

While a lot could be said about the 4-5 days leg from Port Suez to Valencia we participated – one thing’s for sure – it was quite an experience.

We have not taken many images after heading out into the Mediterranean, but some of the pictures from the Suez Canal came out quite well.




Part 2: Through the Suez Canal in record time and off to Malaga




After a few hours sleep in Port Suez we got on the boat around 5am. We had to wait for a while until the pilot came abord and around 6am we had the ok to sail out into the ditch. The Canal is rather narrow near Port Suez so we where just cruising along with 10knts. Once the sun came out the was lots of time to watch other ships passing by…

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…some used the time to linger on deck – the last chance for days.

When you cross through the Suez Canal watch out for the following quite impressive theater play:

During the crossing ships are put together in convoys with a few minutes space between each other. At one point the Suez Canal also includes a lake that is still used by some of the locals for fishing with small green rowing boats. There are normally 2 people in these nutshells one rowing and one handling the nets. So after one of the ocean giants of 200 meter or another huge ship has passed the spectacle begins. One of the two is throwing out the nets as quick as he can while the other is rowing like crazy to get out of the navigation channel – or as if he would row for his life (what he actually might be doing because the larger ships crossing through the Canal would most likely not even realize that they run over one of these small fishing boats left alone that they could see them.)


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We had one stop during the Canal crossing to be honored by Egyptian Officials and representatives from the Canal Authority. Everyone got a silver medal commemorating the Suez Canal anniversary plus a big silver one for the boat. After that – as the Canal then also got wider – it was full speed ahead. (There is one “unofficial” record EarthRace definitely made during her 2007 run around the world – the fastest run by a non-military craft through the Suez Canal. Hmmm, we must have been a bit faster than the speed limit of 10knts for a few times).

Anyway around mid-day we were leaving Port Said behind us and were heading into the open sea…



The sea was flat with almost no wind for the first 1.5 days and we made good speed and distance. Spirits were high and everyone abord (except one) enjoyed the journey. We even found time in the evenings to watch out for the “green flash”…

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…we had to do it: The obligatory picture on the wheel – you can see one of the GPS screens already starting to say bye-bye…

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Once we were entering the street of Sicily the sea got choppy and rough. Many sailors know that the Mediterranean sea is often underestimated and can particular around that area be very treacherous. Pete even tried to find some cover behind a huge oil-tanker. Quite a stressful maneuver but seemingly also quite entertaining to watch for the crew of the other vessel – most of them came out watching what this strange thing on their aft was doing…

The next days along the African coast the weather worsened further and wind came up to more than 40knts. So the trip became a bashing through high waves and speed went down to around 10knts. Still those in the bunks were either banging up against to upper beds or the hull of the boat.

The weather continued like that for almost 2 days and about 150 miles before Malaga – in the middle of the night – the red bilge warning lights came on. Pete was immediately up to take emergency actions – or whatever is possible to be done – to find the cause for it. We were taking in water and as we learned later in Malaga after a more throughout inspection of the boat the hull was cracked from more than 10,000 miles bashing through heavy sea.

So we had to further reduce speed but made it safe into the harbor of Malaga (after waiting for almost 2 hours outside Malaga until we were allowed to take a mooring in the docks.)

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Postscriptum:

see also Part 1: To Egypt and onto the Earthrace boat

Note:

1. We have not “photoshopped” the images so at least some of them look a bit “raw”…

2. Good luck with your next attempt in 2008. Hint: As most sailors will be able to tell you if you are not sailing with a 200m vessel that pushes through almost any sea the quickest travel from A-B is not the straight line plotted by a GPS. Sailors calculate the best course by taking wind, tide and other factors into consideration. On a trip around the world one might shave off 1-2 days travel time only by this …

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