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17 April 2005, 08:33 pm
A Whole Lot Of Stop And Go
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Oryx Quest

Early Sunday morning found Tony BULLIMORE and his team on Daedalus sailing close to the coast of Oman. At the 07:00 GMT poll the boat was just 20 miles off the coast still hampered by fickle winds and frustrating conditions.
It has been a whole lot of stop and go for the crew as first they find some breeze and squirt ahead only to find themselves wallowing in the leftover slop waiting for the next ripple on the water's surface to herald the start of another shot of boat speed.

The good news is that each passing gust brings them closer to the finish and at the same 07:00 poll Daedalus was just 10 miles from the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz. From there it is an easy 300 miles to the hairpin bend of the Strait and then another 275 miles to Doha. They are less than 600 miles from the end of their voyage; less than a Fastnet or Bermuda or Sydney to Hobart Race to name some of the famous ocean races.

On board Daedalus skipper Tony BULLIMORE is pensive about the impending end of their circumnavigation. For Bullimore it's the second around-the-world race on board this boat and he seems in no mind to retire from ocean voyaging. Offshore sailing is one of those insidious afflictions. Each time you race around the world you swear to yourself, and your long suffering loved ones, that this will be your last trip. You know that there are other things to do in life, but a few days after you set foot on dry land you suddenly forget the wet, cold and frustrations and immediately start looking for the next boat to race. Ocean voyaging gets under your skin and there is no known antidote. Once a traveling man, always a traveling man (or woman, not to forget the famous females that raced Doha 2006 so hard around the planet). In his daily log Tony pondered what it is that draws him back to the ocean time and again.

'I am often asked why l do what l do,' he wrote. 'Why have l done so many thousands of miles single- handed, racing in most of the oceans of the world, and it is still difficult to come up with a straightforward answer. I do remember buying a Ford 500 cwt van when l was 17, l had just got my driving license, and that opened a whole new world to me. l could now venture off in all directions, without relying on other people. Myself and my school friend, Tony Jame,s planned to cross the Sahara Desert and make our way through Africa, as far south as we could get. After months of planning and preparing the old van, which by the way, cost £25, a lot of money in those days, we thought we were ready. But we now had to get in touch with the French Embassy in London to get the necessary permits and licenses to go on our adventure. That proved to be so very complicated mainly because the Ford van did not comply with regulations to cross the Sahara desert, and quite frankly, Tony and myself, did not have enough experience to take this on. In fact, we did not have any experience, we aborted what we were planning. However, one has to start to get going somewhere, if one wants to go somewhere, and this could have been it. It was a year later that l took off for Africa on my own. Tony had pulled out and l have been taking on different ventures ever since.'

As Daedalus sails slowly up the coast of Oman, they are getting bombarded by hundreds of flying fish. It's the same phenomenon that the crew on Doha 2006 wrote about two weeks ago when they sailed the same waters. There is something about sailing a catamaran through tropical waters. It seems that the twin hulls scare up schools of fish and they take off only to crash into the hull or shred themselves in the netting of the trampoline. This part of the ocean seems particularly rich with sea life and Tony reports seeing both masses of flying fish and a couple of dolphins. His log continues; 'It happens a little in the daytime, but at night it seems to really get going, and that is flying fish either bashing into the side of the hulls or landing on the nets. The small ones wriggle through the holes in the nets to drop back into the water, and the bigger ones need a little help from us. It was fun earlier today, when we saw a couple of dolphins swimming near to the boat. The hung around for five minutes and then got a little fed up with us, and took off.'

The end of the Oryx Quest 2005 is in sight for the crew of Daedalus. It's still hard to predict an ETA and no one is foolish enough to hazard a guess. I am, however, willing to stick my neck out. I say daybreak on Wednesday morning will see the big cat lope over the horizon to take second in the race. Time will tell, as it always does.

Brian Hancock
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