American world racer locked up in France

American Ocean Racer Bruce Schwab who has participated in numerous ocean races, including being the highest-ranking American finisher in the Vendee Globe singlehanded around the world race. He has also competed in an Around Alone global race. Yesterday, while in La Rochelle, France, getting ready for a transatlantic delivery, he found that getting out of the Akromicro Internet café after closing time is far more challenging than starting a Vendee Globe Race.

From Bruce’s website: Help! I’m emailing from an internet cafe that I’ve been trapped in all night. No, I’m not joking, although it IS a funny story. After a very late dinner with crewmembers Mike, Carina, Anna, and volunteer Thomas, I came here to catch up on email and download some large weather files. I stayed right to closing time…and there were three people in the cafe when I went into the bathroom to use the john and brush my teeth (saving the walk to the other side of the marina after getting to the boat). I heard the sliding of doors and clanking of locks, and rushed out…too late to catch the tired and rushing young employee before he was out of earshot. I guess I took to long to brush my teeth?

Rattling the doors and some shouts at the late hour was of no use. No phone in here, but of course I have free internet…so I got on Skype and made some calls trying to get the police. I called at least five different police stations. However, my number must have appeared as something strange as they would not answer or I would get a click and disconnect after letting it ring for a long time. Called the boat…but evidently the crew had obviously gone to sleep on the boat and turned off all the phones. In the wee hours I wound chatting on Skype with friends in Spain, Florida, and Texas; and trying different numbers to call that we dug up on the internet. No go.

So here I sit, waiting for morning opening of the opening of the internet cafe. I took a brief nap on a table. Hopefully the new coffee-swilling online gaming internet junkie cafe kid will arrive soon.

The past few days have been long hours of preparation for our transatlantic trip. We have made great progress with rigging, electronics, and provisioning and even solved our mystery compass heading problem when we found that the B&G autopilot brain was Kaput. Too bad we don’t have an NKE autopilot like most Open 60’s do…;-) More trouble arose as we were supposed to motor over the boatyard to haul out and clean the bottom, when the engine heat exchanger began belching out it’s coolant water. Initially the trademark green of water/antifreeze spewed forth but obviously it was quickly diluting with more clearer water. This means that seawater was getting through on the inside of the exchanger and driving out the freshwater cooling. We found a mechanic and got him started on the repairs, but missed our haulout time at the yard.

If we can’t get pulled out today (and if I don’t escape from this internet cafe), we will take the boat to the commercial basin where a diver or divers would be allowed to clean the bottom. In the inner harbor where are a presently located, bottom cleaning is not allowed due to environmental regulations. Other than the bottom we have to do one more shopping trip, do laundry, and tidy up our electical work. Then it’s off to cross the Atlantic on what looks like a good initial weather window. We’ll need to make tracks to get the crew hope in time to meet work schedules!

Not much sleep on the table, so I’m a little drowsy. But I guess it’s good practice for the coming watch schedule. And now I’ve had a chance to catch up on communication with you….;-)

When you hear from me again, I will have escaped from the Akromicro Internet cafe, in the old port of La Rochelle. Sheesh.

By Ocean Navigator