During my 2015 Jules Verne Trophy attempt, there were many almost indescribable moments that the team and I lived each day. Little things which might seem trivial, but which ended up becoming unforgettable memories and important life lessons.

This new series of articles, entitled ‘Life on Board’, features excerpts from the diary written by the sailors of Spindrift 2 during this new attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy.

Life on Board – Post 1: Fresh Water

While some everyday things can be taken for granted on shore, on the water these can become luxuries, such as fresh water.

The desalination system on board helps the team to produce enough drinking water to keep them hydrated and cook the freeze-dried meals. The water produced by the system can’t be use for anything more than the essentials, and, therefore, not for personal hygiene. So, as the team approaches the equator and its squalls, the crew usually take their first big shower, taking advantage of the opportunity to wash with rainwater and special non-polluting soap. After several days of racing in hot temperatures, it is a massive treat for everyone!

Xavier Revil updates us from onboard. Xavier is a very experienced sailor, who has raced around the world three times and won an impressive number of regattas and trophies.

On Sunday 20 January he wrote: “The atmosphere onboard is really good, and the crew is very focused. We are within 300 miles of the equator and have had an average 20 knots of wind .It’s getting hotter, inside the boat as well! The sea water is 26°C, and it’s getting a bit damp onboard.

And the following day…

We haven’t suffered too much from the heat so far, as it has been fairly overcast, however our entry into the southern hemisphere has been accompanied by sun and a water temperature of 28°C. Sadly, we don’t have time to have a swim! It’s starting to feel like an oven inside the boat.

Small consolation: “Tonight, between the squalls, we saw a total lunar eclipse which lasted quite a long time, as it was a full moon. It was really beautiful because we had none of the light pollution that you get on land.

After several days of intense heat and a new record set between Ushant and the equator, the crew was finally able to take a well-deserved shower. “Once the equator was behind us the Doldrums slowed us down. It wasn’t too complicated in terms of squalls, but they were very wide and there was little wind.

And then suddenly: “We found ourselves having to cross a big storm zone, which forced us to do lots of manoeuvres. We were helped towards this area by a line of powerful squalls that had several advantages: firstly, they helped us to move south quickly, and secondly, allowed some of the crew to take a shower after three days of hot weather! And I can tell you, as I was one of those that enjoyed this shower from the sky, it was fantastic!

Indeed, because there are no showers onboard Spindrift 2! Freshwater is too precious to use to shower, so sailors have to find alternative solutions. On a non-stop route around the world, the only place where the weather conditions might be right and create the possibility to shower using rainwater is when crossing the equator – once on the way down south, and once on the way back north.

So there are two ways to have a wash onboard Spindrift 2:

  1. Enjoy a good shower under a rain cloud. Thanks to the curved roof of the cockpit the water cascades down the back, creating a natural shower. But you have to make sure that the cloud is big enough, otherwise you could end up covered in soap with no water to rinse you off!
  2. Another solution is to get wet with salt water (and we have plenty around us!) then soap up and rinse with a 1.5l bottle of fresh water – but no more! Top tip: it’s better to use a special seawater shampoo because normal shampoos don’t lather up with seawater.

Even though the desalination system on Spindrift 2 produces fresh water every day, this requires a lot of energy, so fresh water is a rare commodity on board!

For more information go to our Adventure Book to learn more!