When I got below, my oilskins off, sitting on the settee in glorious comfort sipping a bowl of tomato soup, I had a wonderful sense of achievement. It was a positive, but perhaps a simple thing, dealing with a difficult and tricky job in a thrilling, romantic setting, When next I left my blankets I found that Gipsy Moth had averaged 6.1 knots for the past four hours with only a storm jib set, which showed that there had been plenty of wind.
This was the sort of life I led day after day and night after night. Everything in the boat seemed to be wet. One morning I was delighted to see a dry patch on the cabin floor, only to find that it was a piece of light-coloured material which had slipped out of a locker. I began to worry about a fuel shortage for the Aladdin heater, which was going day and night. Whenever I had the Primus stove alight I heated a big saucepanful of salt water, and wrapped clothes round it to dry them out a little.
Atlantic Map Geographical Photo Gallery
By this time I was over the Grand Banks, and in fog nearly always, thin fog, thick fog or dense fog, always some kind of fog. Before I started I had intended to heave to and keep watch in fog, but in the event I never slowed down; I was racing, and what difference would it make if I was stopped anyway? I had expected 300 miles of fog, but actually I sailed through no less than 1430 miles, equivalent to two and a third complete Fastnet Races. It did not slow me down directly, but indirectly it did, because sometimes I would lie in my bunk for hours before I got the necessary peace of mind to drop off to sleep. My reason told me the chance of being run down in the broad Atlantic was infinitesimally small; but my instinct said you must be a fool to believe that. There was something uncanny about charging at full speed through this dense impenetrable fog, especially on a dark night.
Then there was ice. I dreaded icebergs, though there were many times more trawlers on the banks than icebergs. I could not get any ice information with my radio, and could only guess at the ice area from the information got together before the race. Once a cold clammy air entered the cabin, and I thought there must be a big berg nearby. I climbed into the cockpit to keep watch, but found dense fog on a pitch black night. I could not see 25 yards ahead with a light. Gipsy Moth was sailing fast into the darkness. I decided that keeping watch was a waste of time, went below and mixed myself my antiscorbutic. The lemon juice of this wonderful drink not only keeps physical scurvy away, but if enough of the right kind of whisky is added to it, mental scurvy as well. Gipsy Moth sailed on through the dark.