ICEBERGS IN THE INDIAN OCEAN:
KEEPING WATCH 24/7 ON SPINDRIFT 2
The north-north westerlies picked up even more strength this morning to the east of Madagascar, enabling Spindrift 2 to reach average speeds of around 30 knots once again. The area of the Indian Ocean where the trimaran has been sailing for the past couple of days remains tricky due to the presence of icebergs south of the course and high pressure to the north. The strategy involves sailing no closer than 50 nautical miles away from the biggest ice, while performing a series of gybes to stay in a 'corridor', on a run to the Kerguelen Islands. The crew has access to satellite images taken by the French specialist agency CLS, which locates the largest icebergs, some of which measure 300 to 400 metres long. Studiously and concentrating hard, members of the crew take turns with the binoculars during the day and with the infrared glasses at night to detect any suspicious silhouettes on the horizon or the slightest foam that might not just be a breaking wave, but the waves of the swell breaking on a frozen wall of ice. This dangerous passage, where there is little wind, meant that the trimaran lost ground on Banque Populaire V's record, 298 miles ahead. Spindrift 2 is now back up to speed, and in just a day's time will reach the Kerguelen Islands, an archipelago that is well known for its fish-rich shallow waters, which attract fishing boats, but also make for a chaotic sea.
Day 15 – 16h00 GMT
308 nm behind the current record holder
Distance covered from the start: 9,562 nm
Average speed over 24 hours: 19,9 knots
Distance over 24 hours: 378,1 nm
A bit chilly
Image CLS for Spindrift racing
MESSAGE FROM DONA BERTARELLI
For 36 hours we have been sailing in an ice zone. Satellites can only detect the presence of icebergs that are at least 100 metres long. For safety reasons, Yann has decided to keep 50 nautical miles away from any ice in our way; the largest detected so far is 400m. He has also set up a watch system, day and night, where we take it in turns to spot growlers, the blocks of ice that are smaller than an iceberg but still many tonnes, drifting on the surface of the water. There’s daylight at 1am, so, the binoculars replace the infrared glasses. The atmosphere on board is studious and focused.
The sea is grey, milky, like a high mountain lake. It is cold, inside and out, but Thierry warns me, this is nothing still. In a few hours, the wind is going to strengthen, this time from the south, straight from the polar ice, and we will feel the full power of the Southern Ocean.
I never take my gloves or my woolly hat off. Even to sleep. Everyday tasks like washing a pan or the dishes remind us that the water is 3 degrees. It’s impossible to brush your teeth without fearing for your enamel. You have to warm the water up.
The birds have become more numerous and seem to be heralding the approach of the Kerguelen islands. Our route will take us very close to there perhaps. We’ve been at sea two weeks now and to see a bit of land, would be very welcome.