The Final Goodbye

The end of my Clipper Experience has arrived.  The last race had us in a better than expected position, when we “Danangoed” three boats to move up to eighth place.
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After the dramatic rescue of a Telly Tubbies crew member, we managed to sneak past them.  And as we were approaching the final straight, about twenty miles out, we managed to catch Unicef and then GB.  Amazing.  When we sail well we are brilliant.  If only our brilliance had shone through more consistently.

The last twenty miles were momentous.  The wind was in completely the wrong direction, which meant we had to zigzag our way in instead of heading in a straight line.  We had to keep Unicef and GB from passing us, which meant every one of the two million tacks we did had to be our best ever.  That might be just a small exaggeration there.  It felt like two million tacks.  Having a dodgy arm and having to climb up onto the high side every ten minutes or so was not good.  For the first time since I had been back on board one of the crew members questioned my fitness to be there.  A valid observation, but up to that point I had received nothing but good comments.  When Wendo shouted up through the nav station a few minutes later that we had “tied the knot” by crossing our outward track and that we were now circumnavigators I sat and cried.
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How can you feel so lonely on a boat surrounded by twenty other people?  Good job it was dark and nobody could feel sorry for me.  That isn’t what I wanted, and certainly did not want anyone to see my sadness and spoil their revelry.  I will get over it – that is what I do!

Most of us had been up on deck since race start in Den Helder.  Apart from a couple of cat naps, everyone was getting to the point of exhaustion.  We had been told that we would get to Southend at around 4pm, with the departure for the homecoming sail up the Thames due to start at 4am.  A full twelve hours to get sleep before the celebrations.  As usual, nothing goes to plan.  We actually crossed the line at almost 2am, just in time to prepare start the parade.  But as we had managed to pass three more boats, that meant we were seventh overall.  Far better than tenth, although not as good as fifth.  All I can say is that we did our best.  I did my best.  At crew allocation we set out our stall to be in the top half of the fleet at the end, and we missed it by only one place.  And one point.  I think we can all say that is close enough for a bunch of ragtag misfits (words of a journalist in Australia, not mine!).

We started our way up the Thames in the order that we finished overall – but Mission Performance was missing from in front of us.  We learned that they had unfortunately run aground just after the race finish, and would be catching us up.  So, of the boats that finished in front of us, during this round the world race two had managed to beach themselves one crashed his boat and made a hole in the side and one run aground.  Not sure whether the other two had any calamities, but our skipper had led us expertly from start to finish.  Apart from that little Pacific incident that wiped out a few parts of the boat we couldn’t do without, she keeps her no claims bonus.

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There were people waving and shouting at us from both sides of the Thames almost from the QE2 Bridge onwards.  We arrived at Tower Bridge at just before 10am to crowds lining both sides four or five deep.  It was a very emotional journey into St Katharine’s Dock.  My family that had seen me off from that very same place eleven months ago were there to see me back in, as well as my sister and cousin and their families.  Also, a lady that was my very first employee in my business twenty five years ago was there.  I felt very humbled and thankful.  I could not imagine what the families of the two crew members who didn’t make it were thinking at this moment.  So close, and it could have been me too.

We arrived into the docks to our boat song “Wild Thing”.  Every time I hear that from now on I will have a smile on my face.  Who would have thought , apart from a short interlude, that I would still be standing on deck as we came in?  I wasn’t sure I was tough enough, but maybe I am.  The arrivals into the dock seemed to take forever – no-one was allowed on or off the boat until all the ceremonies were completed. I seemed to be interviewed by one person after another – why I have been singled out I will never know.  I am not your stereo typical anything.  Perhaps that’s why? We all went up to the stage one team at a time, and all team members from all legs who were in London joined us for the final picture.  Even the Vietnamese Ambassador came donned with an orange tee shirt to join us for our photograph.  They were lovely sponsors – genuinely interested in us and supported us in every way they could.  And the coffee was great!
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After that we were “let loose”.  I gave a couple of boat tours to my family and friends, and then went and had a very welcome shower. Paul had picked up a Danang print that I had ordered for charity.  It was a picture from the first leg, with all the names of the crew and their legs on.
Another tearful moment – Clipper had downgraded me and put legs 1 2 3 4 5 6 8 instead of RTW next to my name.  That hurt.
I could have done with going to bed – but there was a crew party to attend.  I may have changed in many ways – who knows – but I am still not a party animal.  We left at 9.30pm and I went straight to bed!

The Danang Crew had a last lunch time get together at the Captain Kidd at 2pm on Sunday.  All crew apart from a couple came that was in London.  It was one of the most pleasant afternoons I have spent with such fantastic company.  All friends and relatives were there, and it was just a glorious day.  Wendo was presented with some gifts from us – some crystal we had engraved in Derry with all the crew names and legs on, and a separate wine glass from us round the worlders.  My name was still on there, so according to Team Danang I still qualify.
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Sam from Leg One had made a fabulous snow dome with a replica of our boat inside.  Wendo had picked up snow domes from every stopover we had.  I think this one will be somewhat special though.
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As the crew left one by one, it was then our turn to go.  I would like to think this would not be goodbye forever, but until the next time.  I really hope so!

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I think we have buggered this one up!

After a little heart palpitations re the food first thing on race day
morning we had an early start on the boats.  I had organized pre cooked
food from a caterers/restaurant for both days into London, so that nobody
had to do the cooking.  I was to collect it at 8.30am, ready for a 9.30am
last call on board.  The night before I got a text saying that they had had
a busy day, and it wouldn’t be ready until 10.00am.  I politely phoned and
said that we wold have left by 10.00am, and he agreed to 9.00am.  We had a
“Round The Worlders” photo call at 8.45am, so we went straight after that.
The place was locked up and deserted.  I didn’t have a plan B! Then a
little man arrived on his bicycle and everything was alright.  Phew!We left Den Helder expecting not very nice weather, and knowing that we had
to do well.  We could finish between fifth and tenth overall depending how
we, and certain other boats, did on this last race.  We donned our foul
weather gear, and got ready for the start.  We made quite a good start, and
popped the spinnaker straight away.  We seemed to get caught up in a whole
load of boats and just watched as most of them overtook us.  Oh dear!

It has sort of gone that way for the whole race so far.  Other boats seem
to have the edge on us.  Not sure if we are dragging sea weed, or just not
good enough, but something isn’t right. Whatever decision we make seems to
be the wrong one.  Just one of those days I suppose.  If everything stays
as it is at present we will be tenth.  Nowhere near as good as if we were
fifth!

Telly Tubbies had a lady fall with a suspected broken shoulder, and we
watched as the helicopter came and winched her off.  They were about eight
miles ahead of us, and we heard the call come over the radio to the
coastguard.  Thye let off a flare so that the helicopter could identify
their boat, and it hovered over whilst things were readied.  It was a few
miles away, so we didn’t have that good a view, but we saw the cage being
winched up and off it went.

They are one of the boats that we had to beat, but even with all of that
they are still marginally ahead of us.  It just isn’t going to be our day!
There is a very strange feeling on the boat, with the round the worlders so
looking forward to being home.  I don’t have that same feeling as I have
already been home, so it is strange not to be feeling the same way as them.
I am ready to finish the race now, but I will still be sad to say goodbye
to my “boat family”.

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I am sorry there are no pictures but I have had so much stuff to bring to London for Missy that I had no room for the laptop! I’m typing this on my phone and struggling. Paul xx

Imposter on the Podium!

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When I went to my bunk having been on “mother” duty for the day we were still in third place. We were due to finish, if the wind kept us going, around 4am in the morning. All we had to do was keep that pesky Derry and the rest of the fleet behind us. Not that we weren’t trying our best to get past PSP and/or Visit Seattle, but that seemed highly unlikely seeing that they were so far ahead.

At about 3am Wendo woke me up with a question. “We are about to finish shortly – where do you think we are?” I was hoping the answer was going to be third or above! It was! Although we hadn’t managed to overhaul the two boats in front, we had at least staved off the chasing pack. A podium place, after all this time. Wow.

From there on in it wasn’t worth trying to get back to sleep, so I got up and started to do breakfast. Breakfast worthy of champions (third place felt as good as being champions). Bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Nice having a short race with room in the fridge for little extras!

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Not everyone got to finish their breakfast, as we arrived at the lock that would get us into Den Helder after just over an hour. That was the time that I hung up my pinny and went on deck. “Blue fleeces” came the call for uniform. Oops! Have to be an orange shirt for me, as my blue fleece is at home. Didn’t think I would need that, so in an effort to keep the weight down (Wendo’s appeal) I left it at home. You can spot me from a long way off – orange does tend to stand out! We shared the lock with Derry who had got over the finish line a mere 14 minutes after us. Close!! I must say, we were a much more jovial boat than they. Whilst we unusually were experiencing success, they were unusually experiencing not being on the podium. We sailed out of the lock and into the marina accompanied by rapturous applause from the crews of Visit Seattle and PSP, who had indeed taken first and second place respectively. This was the day of the underdog – and I should imagine one of the most popular podiums of the whole race. The champagne was sprayed over the whole crew, but there was enough left for a mouthful each. For only the second time we have experienced the “champagne moment” – and because of this we savoured it even more.
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Once immigration had taken place, we were greeted with a Dutch tradition of raw herrings and Jenever – a very potent alcoholic drink. At 6am, this was a most unusual menu – although to be fair it would have been unusual for me at any time of the day. I duly picked up my herring by its tail, and filled my glass with the clear liquid. Two bites of the herring was enough – the rest of him went back to whence he had came, and the alcohol did a good job of taking the taste away.

We then joined the other two crews on dry land, where we had another breakfast waiting. Another breakfast with a difference – well, this was the third of the morning! Hamburger and chips, washed down with a barrel of beer and white and red Stormhoek wine. Just go with the flow! Although some went with the flow just a little too much!
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A few of us had decided to do our bit of the deep clean today rather than wait until the next say, so we headed back to the boat to start. First off was clearing up the breakfast that seemed to have happened a lifetime ago. We soon got stuck in and made great pace. During the course of the morning /afternoon we did have a few “casualties” of the liquid breakfast from those that had over indulged. Naming no names, I also had the job of removing foulies and helping someone to stay upright on the toilet that they usually were capable of balancing on at forty five degrees tilt and bucking like a bronco. Putting said persons into a bunk and tieing up their lee cloth so they didn’t fall out – highly likely even though we were as flat as a pancake – and putting a bottle of water within easy reach to counterract the alcohol. All part of the job! They should be able to sleep it off and be raring to do it all over again by the evening!

Mid afternoon I got my things together and set off to find my hotel – a fifteen minute walk from the boat. I did learn at this time that at some point yesterday afternoon Derry were so desperate to overtake us they threw overboard every bit of food they weren’t eating that day, along with coffee, milk powder and anything else that was deemed non essential to lighten their boat to give it more speed. Glad it didn’t work! I then could enjoy dry land, a shower and a proper bed again. Although with only one more short stint on the boat, I will soon be back to normality. Bed at 6pm in readiness for my “surprise” visitors in the morning.
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On 22nd July it was my company’s – Travel Stop’s – 25th birthday. As I would not be at work to help celebrate, the staff had decided to bring the celebrations to me. It would have been a surprise had I not had my accident and had to leave the boat. And, because the wind had been in our favour we arrived a full 24 hours before the arrival window they missed the boat coming in. Shame. They would have enjoyed the Dutch hospitality for breakfast! But they arrived just before lunch, all in their orange supporters shirts, and had a tour of the boat. I think they were all more than a little surprised that I could have lived on it for so long – to be honest, so am I!
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We had a lovely late lunch and had one of the Caribbean Steel Bands come past the restaurant, and then reconvened to enjoy the Caribbean themed entertainment in the race village. I wish I had the figure of the Brazilian dancers that wear next to nothing. More like the Japanese Sumo Wrestler I fear!

We got up relatively early the next morning to get on a ferry to go Texel – an island just twenty minutes journey from Den Helder. The prize giving ceremony was being held at 3.30pm in the afternoon, so plenty of time!! We got a bus to Den Burg and had a short walk around before half of us decided we would get another bus to the far side of the island to visit the beach. It was a lovely beach, with a breeze that was very much appreciated on this hot day. It was only a short stop, as we needed to get the 13:17 bus back to catch the 14:00 ferry. Only the bus didn’t get to us until 13:36. After having a word with “Michael Schumacher”, the bus driver, he obliged with some excellent manoeuvres around the country roads and we made it to the ferry. Phew!! That was one prize giving I did not want to miss.
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We all changed into our orange uniform, and met in the race village. It was an amazing atmosphere. As I predicted, it was a really popular podium. With cocktails, wine and beer in full flow the atmosphere got even more amazing. All three teams were genuinely happy to be there. Ecstatic would be more appropriate. The music continued through the afternoon, and we were even treated to Wendo doing the worm. Well, on what occasion does she not do the worm??
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We had a fab dinner with my work crew and my boat crew, and nearly came unstuck when the restaurant didn’t take credit cards. Whoops. We just about scraped enough euros together to avoid doing the washing up! Some retired to the hotel, and some to a bar after that – with some managing to go through a whole tick list of “firsts”. Me – I have no idea of who or what as I wasn’t there!!

After breakfast the next morning they all departed for home – can’t shut the shops for too long. I need a job to go home to!! It was very quiet without them here, but I will soon be swapping one crew for another and so won’t have to miss them for too long. But at least when I reminisce about Chewie, Pops or any of the other Danangers they will know who I am talking about, and can feel part of the whole journey. By this time next week, this whole trip will be over bar the reminiscing.

PS: The nominations will open on 28th July for the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award when we leave Den Helder. Looking at the list, it is only Danang or Visit Seattle that can take the big prize – please vote for who you want to win (and hopefully it is Danang!).

The Land of the Midnight Sun

What superb sailing we have had for the last few hours.  After being on the nose for so long, it is a pleasure to put the kite back up and have a flattish boat.  Well, that is until the sheet snapped and we nearly lost the kite last night.  The rope snapped around about the knot, and it was just flapping wildly out of control.  But, as the well oiled machine that we (the royal we, that is) are, we got it down with little drama involved at all.  It was down, the yankee and staysail up, the kite woolled and back up again all within the hour.  We need to be on top of our game, as we certainly are still at the pointy end of this race and would like to stay there.

The night shifts are very weird – we are in almost daylight the whole night.  It gets dark, but not very dark.  Helped by the full moon that we have now as well.  I am on my fourth and fifth head torch – the first three all stopped working quite quickly, so Paul brought me two out to Seattle which of course I did not use.  I have brought them with me, but not even got them out.  It is like being on deck on a dark grey afternoon.  The sun isn’t setting until after 10pm – and last night’s sunset was spectacular. I do think that sunsets over the sea are far more dramatic than those on land.  The sunrises are not bad either – and they are really early at the moment too.  There isn’t a whole shift that doesn’t have a good bit of light, even the 10pm to 2am.  I won’t say it is a pleasure, but a lot better than they have been!

It is a beautiful day again today, and as I write we have less than 100 miles to go and are still in third place.  Visit Seattle and PSP are ahead of us – it will be great if we three take the podium places as it will make a lovely change.  And great for PSP who haven’t had a podium finish at all. But 100 miles is 100 miles, and it can all change.
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I am on mother duty today, so instead of being on deck in the sunshine I am slaving away in the kitchen.  Cake for pudding tonight!

Talking about cake, I am afraid that the “Fat Bird” is still the fat bird.
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All the good the boat food and way of life did for my weight has been rubbed out by too much good eating in New York and Derry.
Damn!  The ultimate eleven month diet doesn’t work!

Oh well, there will always be another diet another day…..

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Don’t forget to vote if you haven’t already done so PLEASE
http://www.henrilloyd.com/seamanship-16?utm_source=Clipper+Race+Privilege+Club&utm_campaign=adbad2a2ce-Seamanship_voting7_18_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9bd3dc874c-adbad2a2ce-272337177&mc_cid=adbad2a2ce&mc_eid=57354c4dcc

http://www.facebook.com/StormhoekWines/

Clipper Race Seamanship Award

Typical British weather.  We have had a bit of everything today.  Lovely sunshine, grey skies, black skies, blue skies, thunder and lightening and torrential rain. The wind has gone from three knots to thirty in the space of minutes and then back again. I am surely making up for the weeks that I have missed on the boat with weather coming at me from all angles.  Oh – and the foulies definitely are not waterproof anymore.  Good job there is only a few more days left.

Not wanting to bring too many clothes on this trip because of the weight, and thinking I really didn’t need that many, I only brought two pairs of socks to go under my boots.  The first pair were on, obviously, and get tucked inside my boots when I take them off when I get into my bunk, and get placed into the boot locker.  When I went to get them this morning, one of my boots had fallen over and was full to the brim with water.  There had never been any water in the boot locker before – I have no idea where that came from.  One of my socks was dripping, so I have had to use one of my spare pair.  One sock only left to last until London!  I had to use a plastic bag to put in the boot to stop the new one from getting wet. Hopefully that will work until we dock and I can dry it out completely.

We seem to have picked up a few places today – third again.  Sounds good to me!
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I must say, that having come back onto the boat with a few new crew as well as the regulars and those that have come back for another leg I am really impressed with how everyone works together.  And so jovial too.  It is an absolute pleasure to be here.  Apart, that is, for the twenty or so hours that we had the wind on the nose and was heeling at forty five degrees for the duration.  Hanging on with two good arms is hard enough, so with one dodgy one it is that much harder.  And as for climbing up on the high side – it sometimes doesn’t happen.  But, it has been a lot more pleasant for the last few hours.  That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to get more of the puffy stuff aimed directly at us.

Henri Lloyd is running a Seamanship Award for the Clipper Race, and our boat as a whole has been nominated for the knock down and our recovery.
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If you think we deserve to win the award, please vote for us at
http://www.henrilloyd.com/seamanship-16?utm_source=Clipper+Race+Privilege+Club&utm_campaign=adbad2a2ce-Seamanship_voting7_18_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9bd3dc874c-adbad2a2ce-272337177&mc_cid=adbad2a2ce&mc_eid=57354c4dcc

As the crash test dummy, I can whole heartedly say that the crew were exceptional.
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It would mean a massive amount to me and the rest of us if you could vote.
The Stormhoek Social Spirit Award is open again for this leg, and your votes would be very much appreciated here also.  But for a much more selfish reason – the £2,000 towards the bar bill at the crew party.  I cannot tell you how great it feels to get this award, joking aside.  You can vote for us, or any other crew, at
http://www.facebook.com/StormhoekWines/
by giving the name of the boat and the reason you think we should win.

Brexit or Bridget’s Boat?

Editors post:-
The Brexit vote is over but the Social Spirit Award voting is open at http://www.facebook.com/StormhoekWines/

Visit Seattle have opened up a 10 – 0 voting lead already.
Vote GIRL POWER all you girls out there.
Vote GIRL POWER all you men out there (you know when they are happy your life is so much better!)

Vote for the only female skipper going around the world with a crew of under-dogs that have over-performed and held their own against the stronger male dominated crews.

They breed ’em tough on DANANG VIETNAM – VOTE NOW
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Around John O’Groats

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Apologies for the abrupt ending of the last blog.  Sitting below decks when it got a bit choppy and not having been on the boat for almost three months was not conducive to continuing to type!  I had to get horizontal fast, but thankfully kept everything where it should have been.  The other stories from Derry will have to keep.  Apart from the one where I came out of the crew brief with a pair of knickers in my pocket.  Long story, but the laundry got muddled up and one of the girls from Ichorcoal got a pair of my pants, which I duly reclaimed before being told where we were going and what horrible sea states we were likely to encounter.

The race start was down the end of the River Foyle, off a town called
Greencastle.  A beautiful little town that we had walked around a few days prior.
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We had a proper racing start, about which I was more than a little apprehensive.  Having to move from side to side as we tacked was going to be challenging at the very least, but I seemed to manage without getting in anyone’s way too badly.  We headed off back down the river to begin, around a couple of marks and then off into the Irish Sea.  As usual, on every race start day so far, I copped a double night shift.  I was beginning to remember why, when I was on the boat, I wanted to be at home!

But it was a bit like riding a bike.  Once you get back on it all comes flooding back.  I quite quickly have got used to being woken up after only three or four hours sleep.  And so far, I seem to have made it without adding to my injury.  Everyone is being very considerate, and not giving me the heavy duty jobs – not that I was a lot of good at them before that is!

When all the fleet were still mostly together after almost twenty four hours sailing, it was a fabulous sight to look around and see all the boats with their spinnakers flying.  At that point, or some point, we were in about third place.  It seems we have somewhat slipped down the leader boat as I speak.  As usual!!

So far it has been a comparatively calm crossing.  Well, anything would be calm compared to the Pacific – my last leg.  I am still getting ribbed about breaking the helming station.  There has been a fair few sea birds up here in the North of Scotland, and a few puffins that we have passed. Apart from a lone seal, no other life under water though.  I think the best leg for that was the one I missed.

The sea up here is very black, and we have just passed through a fairly narrow channel between the mainland of Scotland and Orkney.  The tide here is about ten knots, either with you or against you.  We were all hoping that we would go through with the tide, but this is Danang we are talking about!  We hit a bit of wind hole just before we got there, so when we came up on deck at 6am this morning we hadn’t got much further than when we went to bed at 2am.  We had until 1pm to get through the channel before the tide turned.  I am writing this at 12.30pm, and we have left John O’Groats on our stern and have left the channel.  Yippee!
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The sun has been out today, and it has been beautiful.  Looking at the coming forecast, it looks like today needs to be cherished as rain and wind on the nose is forecast.  Oh what joy – how the memories are flooding back. The sea through the channel was really weird.  Where the current was running the water looked as if it was boiling, but there were huge patches of still water that looked like glass, where apparently the currents are swirling around the patch but not in it.  Very strange.  When we got to the corner and turned right the sky was so blue against the dramatic cliffs it looked amazing.  Very similar to when we turned right coming down from Sydney to Hobart – only this time we are not in the lead.  I did say that our record in five/six days races was very good (one race, one win) but I think this one will blow that theory out of the water.

I have been allocated number five life jacket this time – a real promotion, as every single race up until now I have had the last number going.  I think I prefer the last number, as it seems to put less pressure on me having to know what I am doing!  And, the first time that I wore it, it all came unpacked.  On each side of the life jackets there are two parts of the zip that don’t connect, so that it can be pulled apart if, for some reason, it doesn’t self inflate when necessary.  On occasion this can cause the zip to undo just below it, and then it has to be completely undone and re done up.  This happened at the start of the trip just as I was getting ready to go on deck.  With all my wet weather gear on it was really hot, and dark, and it took me ages to get it back together.  I almost lost the contents of my stomach, but yet again just managed to keep it all contained.
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I am getting soft having been on land for so long!

The Adventure Continues…………

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For the first time in three race starts I was on the boat rather than waving them off from the pontoon.  That felt right.

It was touch and go right up to a couple of days before departure.  I already had my consultant and physio sign off the forms to say I was good to go before I left for Derry.  That just left the Clipper insurance and the Race Director.  I had the underwriters email shortly after landing – just the one obstacle to go.  I had heard that someone else with a shoulder injury was made to pull a boat in by the bow line with his bad arm.  As I would not have been able to do that before, I was going to put in a very good argument as to why I couldn’t do it now.  Then I heard that the Race Director had left to go back home.  Ha ha I thought, that was easy.  Then I had the email to say that the Deputy Race Director wanted to see me at 10.00 am the following morning on the boat.  Oh dear!

I duly arrived, and found there was a small contingent of fellow crew members and Wendo ready to give any support necessary.  The first test was not too bad – I had to put on my foul weather smock and life jacket.  The smock is rather difficult to put on with two good arms, and I saw Emily hold her head her in hands as everyone struggles with that one.  But I did it, and the life jacket was comparatively easy.  Then I had to prove I could get in and out of my bunk, and tie up the lee cloth.  Easy peasy.  I had to hold on to a hand rail as if we were heeling at 45 degrees, and pull myself up.  All sensible tests, and achievable.  Then came the sticky one. I had to get on and off the boat without steps.  Everyone fell about laughing on deck, saying that would be a first.  But, he wouldn’t take no for an answer, and continued to show me how to do it.  I think, by luck, the tide was in the right direction, and the boat was not far from the pontoon.  The bow line was tight that gave me a step up and down, and miraculously I did it first time.  I then earned myself the nickname “Andy” from Little Britain.  David said that when none of them were looking I would be up the mast.  Ha!
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But, those tests done, I got the green light to go.  David had a tear in his eye.  Then told me I was on his watch, and he has had the best watch ever.  And I wasn’t to stuff it up!!  I will do my best not to.

So, gear on the boat and head in sailing mode again.  Seems very strange. Derry had been a fantastic stopover – somewhere that I had only heard about for all the wrong reasons from my younger days, but was an amazing city.  I caught up with a couple of travel agent friends, both old and new, and toured some of the beautiful countryside.  As well, of course, of victualling for the boat.  But Val had done a good job in my absence, and had most of the lists sorted by the time they arrived in, so it was only the food to buy.

Each boat was sponsored by a business in Derry, and ours was RoCo – a hairdresser and coffee shop.  They provided a fantastic array of sandwiches and pastries for our race day lunch and the following day’s breakfast.  The restaurant next door, Timber Quay, provided lasagna and vegetarian curry for dinner, so we were well provided for.

The morning of departure came, and I was actually a little emotional – and apprehensive.  I didn’t want to be a nuisance on the boat, but was really not sure how much I would be able to do.  The people of Derry gave us a memorable departure.  They were stacked along the marina two or three deep, cheering and clapping.
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So out into the big blue sea we go again!
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Bridget only has basic email facilities on the boat. Editing and the choice of images on this blog is entirely by Paul Keevil!
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