Cape-to-Rio crews have fun braving the high seas

2011-01-22 19:36

Twenty-five days without a ­bathroom or shower sounds like torture, but not for the 17 teams ­competing in the Cape-to-Rio yacht race.

One team braving the elements are the Robinson family of seven from Durban aboard Ciao ­Bella.

“Yesterday (Thursday) was the day of the speedos. I opened my eyes to focus on three brothers and a cousin hitting the deck with bright red speedos – all in preparation for the ­beaches of Brazil,” one family member wrote on their blog.

That’s when they’re not singing lyrically flawed versions of Going Back West to get them through their long nightshifts or shooting ­“extreme video” with a ­waterproof camera in terrifying 17.9-knot winds.

All the yachts are now eight days out of the belly of Table Bay, but when you’re off dry land with not a clean tiled bathroom or a supermarket in sight, even the most everyday activities become an experience.

The crew on Me2Me have devised an ingenious open-air toilet, ­involving a harness off the back of the boat and a certain degree of suspended activity, so to speak.

Bathing on Ciao Bella means waiting for the fresh-water rain showers, but in cloudless weather getting clean consists of “covering oneself in Colgate shampoo and having a sibling take the pleasure of throwing a bucket of water over you to get it all off again”.

Food after the first couple of days is whatever is left in the ship’s stores, which can be quite boring.

The Xtra-Link crew makes sure to eat a different flavour of cereal each morning, while tuna is being caught off the back of Me2Me by crew member Alex Antrobus.

Or, if you’re Brennan Robinson, you might not want to eat at all in order to prove his “7kg theory” on Ciao Bella. (He believes that an ­average of 7kg can be lost by ­everyone on this crossing.)

Flying fish and a turtle seen off the deck of Grand Filou II by ­22-year-old Hout Bay development sailor, Theo Yon, are some of the ­delights.

Dolphins plunging into the shoal alongside Ciao Bella were ­described by Brad Robinson as “ethereal blue torpedoes”.

The yachts were sailing with a full moon on Wednesday night, ­according to Xtra-Link Skipper Dale Kushner.

But nature has also been ­responsible for some of the less ­enjoyable moments.

“It’s going swimmingly,” was the double-edged comment from Murray Beaumont aboard Me2Me.

Battered boats were experiencing engine troubles (used to charge ­batteries for heating water and ­contacting the outside world), ­leaving vessels like Grand Filou II with only one litre of water to drink per day and no warm showers.

Sea sickness is another uncomfortable symptom of the high seas, and crew members have found ­interesting ways to deal with it.

High School Musical songs have been known to have adverse ­effects on many non-Disney fans.

But when 10-year-old Michaela Mae’s “tone deaf rendition” was sung to 14-year-old seasick Ryan Robinson aboard Ciao Bella, he was cured by sunset.

That is unless you’re Me2Me’s Beaumont, who climbed the 15m mast to do some maintenance ­before unleashing his breakfast into a 20-knot wind.

According to fellow crew ­members, his closing comment was: “The view is spectacular from up here!”

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