The new year will start with a splash for Masiphumelele skipper Sibusiso Sizatu and his crew who will compete in the Cape2Rio yacht race.
According to Mr Sizatu, the closer they get to leaving, the more excited they get.
Paperwork has been completed, new sails have been hoisted, and inspections have been completed in preparation to sail 3 300 nautical miles across the South Atlantic.
“You mentally pace yourself to spend a long time out at sea,” Mr Sizatu said. “We know we are in for the long haul – between 24 and 27 days.”
Their yacht, the Alexforbes ArchAngel, leaves Cape Town for Rio on Monday January 2.
The rest of the crew are first mate Daniel Agulhas, 29, Renaldo Tshepo Mohale, 29, Thando Mntambo, 23, Azile Arosi, 22, and Justin Peters, 21.
The crew were selected due to their commitment to the Royal Cape Yacht Club Sailing Academy programme as well as their experience, according to Jennifer Burger, Cape2Rio race administrator.
All members have their basic skipper’s ticket, and three of the men have their offshore skipper’s ticket. The crew have also completed several yachting programmes, such as personal survival techniques, and competent crew courses.
“Justin and Sibusiso completed a diesel mechanic course enabling them to work on the boat in the case of engine failure,” Ms Burger said.
Life aboard the yacht will entail racing 24 hours, with the crew working in pairs – four-hour shifts at a time during the day and three-hour shifts during the night, while rest sleep in a hot-bed system.
“The shifts routine is difficult to adjust to and it can get boring during their free time; there is no social media or battery power to watch movies on a laptop,” Ms Burger said.
Food will be prepared in the small galley atop a one-burner gas stove and will consist of “lots of pasta, rice and canned ingredients” Mr Sizatu said. “You use seawater to cook food once you are far enough from land.”
With only 400 litres of fresh water on board – 2.5 litres per crew member per day – showering is done using seawater, and a small spray bottle of fresh water to rinse off. They have a full first-aid kit including prescription drugs like painkillers and various antibiotics.
“We sit most of the time, so the kit includes anti-chafe cream,” Mr Sizatu said.
During a medical emergency, the global Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre will take over, and, after getting information from the crew, a doctor will decide if there is enough of a crisis to divert another ship to assist with a rescue.
Common potential injuries can include broken ribs or concussion from the boom swinging, as well as hypothermia.
“At the moment, we are pushing ourselves to the limits in training,” Mr Sizatu told the Echo. He chuckled as he said, “When we get home, we can’t even lift a spoon.”
Should an incident occur that forces the crew to abandon the boat, such as an uncontrollable fire or a hole, the rule, for best visibility, is to stay with the boat as long as possible and only then climb into a fully provisioned inflatable life raft.
They will also take a grab bag which has a spare GPS, seasickness tablets, food rations and their passports in waterproof bags.
According to Mr Sizatu, they can expect to see a lot of birdlife, maybe a few whales, and lots of flying fish along the way.
For entertainment, they will be taking some cards, dominoes, and some books to read.
“It’s going to be an adventure. By the time we get there, we’ll be like sisters and brothers, there is nothing we won’t know about each other,” he said.
The yacht has a tracker showing its position, and the public can follow the race at www.cape2rio.live and also send messages of support.
“Hopefully we will have a lot of people following our journey, which will inspire the youngsters coming up in the field,” Mr Sizatu said.