My effort to write at least one blog post per month in the run-up to the start of the race is not going well. My excuse is that I’m too busy
playing tabletop miniatures games running 10km obstacle races studying navigation & meteorology to do any blog writing.
It’s not like I had nothing to write about. In early March I took part in the third (of four, or well, five for me) level of training for the race, which turned out to be one of the most eventful weeks in Clipper’s training history. Both our skipper (Conall) and mate (Gaëtan, pronounced GUY-tong, from Belgium) were potential skippers for the race, and in fact both have now been chosen to be race skippers – I may be sailing with one of them for 11 months!
In 5 days we managed to (in chronological order):
- suffer an engine failure at the narrow point Portsmouth harbour
- make a large hole in the back of the boat using a pontoon cleat
- bend the bowsprit (of our second boat) downwards by 90°
- run aground on Ryde Sands
So that was fun. In some ways having incidents like these can be good training anyway – although you perhaps don’t learn what you originally came to learn, instead learning how to work together as a team to solve problems. (And in fact this was a great crew; I’d love to sail with all of them on the race!)
In the last few weeks managed to snag a second-hand Henri Lloyd drysuit – a sealed one-piece outer layer, excellent for staying warm & dry on the bow in the Southern Ocean and similar hostile environments – in excellent condition for less than half retail price. This was courtesy of Kate Whyatt, a circumnavigator on last year’s crew.
April is looking busy, since I have lined up another week of volunteer work sailing with the Tall Ships Youth Trust, and then later I will be doing the Clipper Race Coxswain Course (CRCC), aka ‘level 5 training’ – this is an intensive 12-day theory & practical course that essentially teaches the skills required to take command of the boat should something happen to the skipper. Only a small proportion of the crew are invited to take part, and each boat should have 2-3 of these trained people on board. It’s a lot of ocean and navigation theory – in fact we receive the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore theory certificate – and practical exercises such as manoeuvring, man overboard helming and various other tasks. This should put me in good stead for taking my Yachtmaster Offshore exam in the future. I am looking foward to this and have obviously been doing (as stated in the opening paragraph) lots of preparation for this already!
It’s a good job I work for an awesome company who not only let me take this time off for training, but also single days at short notice to travel down to London for a 5 minute interview at the US Embassy…