A about a week has passed since I finished my level 2 training and I am only just starting to walk straight. It is amazing how the whole ‘sea legs’ ‘land legs’ thing can affect you. Heaven help me ! What am I going to be like after 11 months? If it takes 7 days to get over a single week sailing! It looks like 2020/ 2021 are going to spent leaning on a lot of walls.
So, off I set on the train from Macclesfield station with my waterproof bag packed with my waterproof boots, waterproof sleeping bag, waterproof camera, waterproof socks, waterproof gloves and waterproofs. You get the idea I was prepared for the water! I had packed really light clotheswise in preparation for what the real race will be like. One set of merino wool base layers, my warm mid layer, a couple of pairs of knickers, a fleece, merino wool socks, red light head torch, kneepads, gloves, sunnies and buff, my basic wash bag consisted of some face cream samples, tooth brush and paste, wet wipes, deodorant, a tiny bottle of shampoo and shower gel, and sunblock. No makeup, No creams, no lotions and potions, none of the little luxuries that we all love. All packed into a holdall the size that some folk take to the gym. And I was off back down to Gosport for another adventure. My plan was to catch up on my blog on the train on an ancient iPad 1( not in a waterproof case!!) Bottle of water and a banana set out on the pre booked table seat, with plug. I set about writing my little heart out. It was pure gold! Perfection! The best I have ever done. A piece about old friends, and new friends, and everyone who has helped me so far on this adventure and in my life. It was my tribute to all my people and yes you guessed it. I have lost the lot. It just shows what a naive blogger I am, not backing up as I went. Anyway lesson learnt, from here on in I am pressing save every few seconds 🙂
Back to level 2 training. I stayed in an Airbnb nearby on the first night, the obligatory meet up in The Castle. Where I met up with George, Lizzy, Adam and Ollie some of my crew mates for the following week. The course started next morning 9am sharp at a local school, where we were put through our first classroom session. RYA Sea Survival. Keith our instructor was fabulous, just the right balance between humour and scaring us senseless.
Lesson 1, DO NOT FALL OFF THE BOAT!
Lesson 2 STAY ON THE BOAT!!
Lesson 3 DO NOT EXIT THE BOAT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN, UNLESS THERE REALLY IS NO OTHER OPTION!!!
Lesson 4 IF YOU DO FALL, EXIT, OR OTHERWISE FIND YOURSELF IN THE WATER, TRY AND GET BACK ON THE BOAT 🙂
etc etc etc
He was incredible, as joking apart it is a very serious situation. If disaster strikes and it is necessary to abandon ship and head for a life raft Keith gave us the tips and tricks to survive, how to work together as a team, to live through what otherwise could be catastrophic. After the morning in the classroom it was time to head to the pool for a practice session. It was ridiculously tricky to swim in a big yellow suit, to haul yourself and your team up into the floating paddling pool with a canopy that is called a life raft. HOT, CLAUSTROPHOBIC, UNCOMFORTABLE. Imagine being in the dark in the middle of the Southern Ocean, not knowing if help is coming, with no water and food. Refer back to lessons 1-4.
It was a great day, I learnt so much and with some of the slides and stories it really did bring the element of danger forward in my brain. Fasnet Race, Tony Bullimore, both stories of when things go wrong in the yachting world. The Fastnet 1979 such a disaster with so many people losing their lives and Tony Bulimore surviving against all odds.
We finished the day exhausted, clean from the hot shower at the school and set off back to the marina to find our skipper and mate and last but not least our floating home for the week. CV7 Oh and a last quick trip to The Castle before we set sail in the morning.
Conall Morrison our skipper was one of the skippers from last years race, so it was really special to get that extra bit of insight from someone who not only is an amazingly talented sailor and teacher but also someone who has actually done the whole race……. recently…… on the actual boats that we are going to be on…… Conall was incredible, so laid back in his teaching style, funny and good fun and willing to help us exceed our expectations. We flew the spinnaker on level 2!!!!! We safely sailed through the night with the wind gusting hard and in nasty seas, a real taster of life to come. That bit was HORRIBLE !! At the start of my 3AM watch I was sick sick sick and then sick again. Ohhhhhhh…… groan groan, give me child birth, a broken leg, toothache anything but that. I know, I will have to get used to it but in the dark, the temperature fluctuations from warm to bunk to bitting cold air, the disorientation, the motion, the lack of sleep was just nasty. Four hours later, cold and miserable, exhausted I collapsed into my bunk and slept until noon. And WOW a new day, I was back in the game. There was still quite a sea and the wind gusting up to 30 knots but sunny and the best day ever. On my watch we put in 2 reefs of the main, dropped the yankee. ( That’s all sailing speak for changing the sails about !! ) Adam and I working the bow. Oh the adrenaline rush for that was incredible. Waves crashing on our heads literally as we manhandled the yankee down on to the deck. Then off watch to sleep for the afternoon and wake up in time to arrive for our evening anchorage in Swannage bay. I am not going to say anything but just look at the picture it says it all.
tomorrow I will tell part 2
Man over board drills, dolphins, bonding with my new buddies and the “We made it home safe” trip to Weatherspoons, dancing in the street on the way home, deep clean and the global team tattoos…. That includes you George Dawson :0)