Race 5

Race 5 Leg 4

Christmas goodies from Bermuda

Fremantle to Airlie Beach

Dad and Alan had flown over to Fremantle for a holiday to meet me there and it was great to spend time with them both. I realised that I had never been abroad with my Dad and brother before in my life. This crazy race that I am taking part in has really brought our family together. So some time together was really great for them to get away from the nonsense back home at Christmas and spend time together. We had a ball in Fremantle, what  a great place. It has a really colonial feel to the old buildings, beautiful, ornate verandas and the centre of town had some fabulous bars and restaurants, which is an essential part to any stopover. Dad and Alan were keen to see the wildlife and birdlife and go fishing and I was keen to sleep in a real bed. It was great for Dad especially to meet my friends and crew and to see what this space is all about.

We had made really good time across the Southern Ocean and actually arrived before they did but fortunately I was able to check into our Airbnb straight away, so by the time that had arrived I had luxuriated in the bath for an hour, put on clean clothes and had even been shopping and put 2 loads of washing through the machine. A bath, a washing machine and a comfortable bed are the 3 main requirements for any stopover.

Over the  next few days it was a combination of boat maintenance and a few days relaxing before time for race start. Only 8 of the boats setting off together this time after the crash at the start of the last race, Punta and Sanya had only just arrived and Unicef who had a medivac in Durban were also delayed. Those 3 boats are setting off 48 hours behind the rest of the fleet and competing on elapsed time. Which brings me to the present. We are now day 2 into the race and after the first 24 hours of hard beating into the wind we are now struggling for breeze. The first 24 hours were a real struggle for many of the new crew who struggled with seasickness. All trying to work through it and carry on but as I know from the very start it is horrible, a feeling of abject misery. Now, on day 2 everyone seems to be recovered and the drop in wind helps, as the boat has flattened out and that makes life just easier all round, seasick or not. I am watch leader again for Shelly Bay, Callum for Horseshoe and Laura for Tobacco. Even after some pleading with Wavy to let me and Callum be on the same watch, he was having none of it. Unfortunately, Ronald who was the best other person to be a WL had to again fly home for a family emergency. Poor Ronald seems to have more than his fair share of crisis that pull him away from this race.

Day 3 and its Christmas Eve and the sun is shining and the sky is blue. We are hugging the coast hoping for sea breeze. The rest of the fleet are struggling stuck in a wind hole. We are managing 7 -8 knots and holding on to second place and creeping up on Halong Bay in first. We have got music playing on deck and the feeling on board is good. It feels strange being at sea at Christmas, not that I am a huge fan of Xmas but just sitting in shorts on deck feels weird. Life on board is falling back into a rhythm. Eat Sleep Sail repeat. I had my first good sleep on my last off watch and now feel refreshed and alive, it takes a few days even without seasickness to fall get into the watch system. Only sleeping for small amounts several times each day can be difficult, but once you get used to it it seems natural. Wavy is in playful mood he hid my avocado crocs hoping for an outburst. I had stowed them safely and knew exactly where I had left them so it didn’t take much to put two and two together. Its must be my turn to hide something of his…… his little ribbons perhaps.

Christmas at Sea, What a great day, we are head of the pack and the weather is fabulous and its Christmas and we have 2 huge pieces of beef to cook. Wavy is on top form again he even got dressed up in his santa suit to dish out the pressies. I had a brilliant pair of avocado socks and a stress banana, what could be better 😊

It seems odd to be away from home but certainly different from the norm. Sailing south on a 70’ yacht wearing pink flowery shorts, and avocado socks and matching crocs decorated with tinsel and a santa hat. The beef was spectacular and garlic and rosemary roast spuds great, Laura put loads of effort into getting the right ingredients and prepping all the mince pies etc a great day. Its too early to phone home I will ring later when I am on my next watch.

Boxing day and life goes back to normal, what is normal for me is at 45° heading south towards Tasmania. My first watch of the day was at 6am and I had been asleep for about 5 hours which is a really long time onboard. I woke squished up against the bulkhead in my bunk, neck aching, back aching, everything sweating. It’s not cold at the moment down below but is is nicer to lie on a sleeping bag. During my sleep I had wriggled inside and was fit to explode, my sleeping bag is super warm and designed for much colder temperatures, I was cooking. So first job a “shower” which consisted of 3 wet wipes and cleaning my teeth, a roll on of deodorant and sun cream and I was fresh and ready to go. Enough time to eat a quick bowl of cereal and straight up on deck. The sailing has been fairly boring the last couple of days basically same sails, full main, Yankee 1 and staysail up and following the same course 143° so a nice easy handover from Callum. It’s the only time I see him now we are not on the same watch and I miss him. Life onboard is not the same without my buddy and it really will be shitty when he steps off. Cant remember if I have written about his news, but I will be more than sad to see him go. There will be  a huge Callum shaped hole in my heart.


Day started quietly with a standard watch which progressed into a mare. We have been on the same tack for days literally and we needed to gybe. So wavy called it and the standby came on deck. It went perfectly, unfortunately it didn’t give us the angle we needed so we needed to gybe back, this time not so smooth. The yankee sheet blew out of control and ended up in an almighty tangle. The only thing we could do was to drop the sail, untangle the sheets and then rehoist. In the drop there was only me and Katie on the foredeck and we didn’t have enough ‘grunt’ to get it down smoothly so another tangle at the forestay as the sail twisted around. Nightmare 2. All good in the end as both tangles were untwisted and the Yankee rehoisted and we were sailing again. Next there was talk of raising the code 3 but thankfully my watch came to the end and it was time for breakfast. A big bowl of musili and a banana and then a phone call to Darren. I haven’t spoken to him since Christmas day and our emails haven’t been going through. Questioning my race again this morning, wondering why am I here ????  Sleep calls and I am lying on top of my sleeping bag ready to snooze for an hour or two.

After that message of doom and gloom just had a wonderful day. Perfect watch with lots of laughter and great sailing. We have the code 2 up and are sailing fast in the right direction. Ellen and I had a great standby watch making burgers for the crew and having a good old clean up. Cleaning under the companionway steps which was gross. It’s where the bin is stored and people throw things from a distance often missing, say no more. Orcas spotted too today, sadly I had my head deep in the bilges and missed them.. Bloody typical. Going to phone Darren tonight when I wake at midnight as it’s the 27th at home and the day we DO Christmas at home so all the family will be there and I can wish everyone  a happy Christmas. Wavy still hasn’t shown us the supporters videos we need him to get it out. Callum is in the galley creating a beef stew, we have had beef literally for every meal since we set off. Starting to crave a tomato and it’s only a few days in. 😊

What a great day sailing, the wind is in our favour the code 2 is up and flying beautifully and we are still in first place. Midnight til 3am  watch on deck this  morning and the sky lit up at 2am with the Southern Lights. Gorgeous, never seen a light like it. Not as colourful as the Northern Lights but an eery white light that lit the sky in the South. I thought it was an early sunrise until Greg pointed out that it was due south … DOH

Ellen and I were on standby at breakfast time and made everyone fried eggs served on Candelas first ever successful bread. She was blown away that finally her bread has risen and everyone devoured it slathered with butter and topped    with fried eggs crispy round the edges but soft yolks…. Yummy

With Ellen my watch buddy, love her forever. ❤️

The air is cold but the sky at night was full of stars and during the day , Blue sky and fair winds and following seas. During our daytime shift 10am til 2pm we sailed fast and Greg made top speed of the trip so far 18.4 knots. He was pleased as punch 😊

We are now about 1/3 if the way and so far my favourite leg, the sailing is far easier and this crew works much more together, NO PASSENGERS this time. Characters still,l but everyone trying and pulling their weight. All good I just miss Darren and can’t wait to see him in a couple of weeks time when we get to Airlie Beach. Orcas spotted  earlier but sadly not by me.. gutted.

Chilli and Rice with perfectly cooked rice, a delight especially with a bit of extra siracha sauce to add some extra ommph. Didn’t sleep particularly well as the kite sheets on the winch were screech screech screeching directly above my head, but feel rested and ready for action. Getting dark and the lights down below are on red lights and there is some chilled out music playing on the Bluetooth speaker. Kate Bush, I would never usually listen to her but tonight it is great, with Peter Gabriel I think.. Don’t Give up, so very apt.

Another couple of sleeps have gone by and I have lost track of time, I think it is th 29th Dec. A great few days sailing and we are still standing in  First place, battling hard with Halong Bay. There is plenty of controversy about the 3 boats who set of late. They are making really good time as the weather patterns they are experiencing are more favourable. It seems so unfair that after causing such destruction in Punta, Sanya are now able to capitalise with no penalty for crashing at their own fault. Racing now on elapsed time they are seriously looking like they could win this race. The Race Director compared RJK’s original race which is a fallacy. That race was always a staggered start and part of the tactics of the race were to decide what type of boat and which weather window to depart. The fact that our race is based on a matched fleet in matched conditions bears no comparison to that race 50 years ago. Cheap shot from RD to keep the masses quiet. ☹ But not going to lose sleep over it.

Ellen had a shaky morning, emotional and tired  and a couple of comments from tired Wavy had her crying. Sometimes he really doesn’t understand the impact of his throw away words. We had a big hug and chatted a lot on watch and she was smiling by the end. She is a sweetheart and this race will really be the making of her, already so old beyond her years but also only just 18 with so much focus on selfies and whether her hair is right. It blatantly has absolutely no bearing on life on board and is at the lowest end of the priorities. That perhaps might be Ellen’s greatest lesson to take from this, prioritise the things that are most important, to enjoy the simple pleasures in life and to expand her view outwards rather that looking back at herself through the lens of her camera. Don’t get me wrong she is a fabulous young lady who can hold her own sailing the Southern Ocean on a 70’ sailing yacht. I love her to pieces and she is most definitely a person who will stay with me once this race I over.

The 3am standby shift this morning found me again making scuffians and baking bread, I love that standby watch, kneading and mixing with the oven on warming the galley, red light on  as it is still dark outside, white light messes with the helms night vision.

The 6am on deck watch was finished off with an hour long trip to the foredeck for Greg and I. Two small rips about 2 inches long in the Yankee 2. The damage  had been spotted when the sail was up but it was a challenge to find them with the sail hanked on, on the foredeck, while still racing. But we needed to give it a shot. The other option was to unhank it, drag it back to the cockpit, flake it find the holes, repair them then and drag the sail back forward and rehank ready to fly again next time. Greg and I went forward on a reconnaissance run, first to find the holes in the mountain of fabric. Craig said he thought they were near the top black line that marks the draft of the sail. We unhanked the top few hanks and spread the sail out back down the deck…. Nothing to be seen. Bugger, Craig was fast asleep so we couldn’t consult him. We searched on down metres of heavy wet folded fabric, spray from the bow, both soaking wet but smiling. It makes a change from sitting in the cockpit, trimming. Eventually we found a hole, thank goodness, it was meters down by the second draft line, hey ho at least we found it. Back to the cockpit to collect my repair things. Sail makers needle, strong thread, leather palm and a patch of sail cloth. Greg positioned himself lying down under the mass of sail and I stood above. We painstakingly passed the needle through the thick fabric pushing it through each time with the palms until eventually a patch had been applied, double stitched all around. It took about half an hour to stich a patch about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide. Hooray we had done it, oh I forgot to start with we thought there was only one hole. We trooped back to the cockpit after rehanking the sail and re tying it. Hallelujah we were repairing heros, saving the day, saving hours of many crew hands by repairing it in situ. Craig was now sticking his head up on deck, his watch due to start, ‘we mended it!’ I said. ‘IT’ he said ‘There were two….!!’ Bugger it, half a job, not good enough. Even though our watch was over back we went in search of the second hole, a couple of fathoms across, horizontally according to Craig, so back to the unfolding, searching, was it left or right from the original, we had no idea. Eventually we found it and repeated the stitching, patching process. This time faster and neater and equally ecstatic once we completed the job. There is nothing as satisfying as a successful mend. Watch well and truly over, back down below for a sleep before the next watch. I was meant to be having my long sleep but a nap for an hour, then a jacket potato and beans and cheese and you now find me with 3 hour to go before watch writing this. I must put it away now and try to rest, otherwise I will be exhausted tonight when I need to be on deck 6 pm till 9pm then standby midnight till 3am followed by on watch 3am till 6am. It is relentless never a break from the cycle, Eat Sleep Sail, mend, Eat sleep sail Mend. I can hear Callums voice from the top of the mast now as he has been hoisted up there now for his version of that cycle. He is currently putting on the safety strops that had been forgotten on the spinnaker Halyards when it was hoisted 3 days ago. I lie in my bunk typing as my buddy is 95 feet above the Southern ocean dangling on a halyard, as we sail at 14 knots towards Tasmania. It’s never a dull day 😊

Bloody Hell the other boats are gaining on us and Wavy is getting stressed, it will be all I can do to smooth the situation. He is saying NO ONE else can helm and other such nonsense. Like I say its never a dull day. Over the last few days there has been an excel spreadsheet which calculates exactly how many miles we are gaining and losing and in the last 6 hours we have lost miles, only an odd one here and there but a row of red instead of green on the spreadsheet. It’s enough to send our intrepid leader into a tailspin. SMOOTH HETH SMOOTH. I understand the frustration but his all encompassing comments can demoralise our crew. We need to tread carefully to ensure everyone remains motivated and focused rather than demoralised that they are not capable or fit to helm.

All is good in the world again, we have made back up our positions so Wavy is unstressed. Yesterday however we had an absolute kite mare to end all others. It was just as we were being woken up for standby in the night when there was a call to drop the kite. It had blown for no real apparent reason, the wind wasn’t too strong or gusty. There had been  few tiny burns from flogging and we think that one of them had given way. Anyway the long and sort of it was the head of the kite was now separated from the rest.. It was raining and cold and we dropped the kite fast. Releasing the halyards and smoking the kite. All hands heaving the wet fabric back on board. That just left the head and about 5 metres of fabric twisted around the forestay and into the anti wrap net. Callum, still just in his shorts and Tshirt, as he hadn’t had time to dress, and I were on the foredeck trying to untwist the remaining piece. I climbed up the bricked staysail and cut the leech line that was holding the final twist. It was all down and shoved unceremoniously into its bag to be repaired when we  arrive in Airlie. That leaves us with no Code 2 now for the rest of this race. Bugger. We were quick to drop the anti wrap net and get the Yankee 1 back up and sailing, thank fully no one was hurt and we hadn’t lost much time. Those of us not on watch descended back below  to get a hot drink and with smiles , thankfully, talk about how brave and strong we all were in the face of such a disaster 😊 Callum dried now and ready to head for his ondeck watch, life returned to normal. Wavy headed for his bunk and the rest of us fell back into our roles.

Next watch was the morning of the 30th Dec and the busiest watch of the trip. Callums last words to me as he went to bed were ‘You might just want to quickly check for chafe on th back stays’ as the kite letterbox had been set up wrong and dragged the sail through the backstays in the kite mare last night. My watch started then with a deck walk at first light. The tack was dragging in the water and it took me and Greg a while to retrieve it. Winching it in and then over the bow with the boat hook to catch it and haul it back in, untangle and check. Then the halyards were both threaded through the backstays so half an hour to untangle those. Then it was time to reef, all through eh watch the wind was flukey, up and down in out and shake it all about.

New years eve and the wind dropped right off, we rounded the corner at the bottom of Tasmania. It was up and down with the code 1 and windseeker and Yankee 1. Loads of sail changes. I spent time with all the new crew packing the codes so that they all know what to do. TBH it was easy as the boat flat, day light and the hatch open. I was up in all my sleeps packing the codes. Schrunch Roll, tie into a sausage then zig zag the snake into the bag and with brute force squash the bgt back on the bunk. Later in the afternoon while on standby and helping with the windseekker drop we had our first tethered MOB. Candela was on the foredeck and the wind light, a bit of swell and we were dropping the windseeker to put the Yankee 1 back up. It was going to be a hatch drop as dinner was cooking and the threat of no crumble for dessert  was enough to alter the letterbox drop to a hatch drop. We can’t use the gas in the galley of there are sails there, too much of a fire risk. So the letterbox was unthreaded and Candela leaning out to grab the lazy sheet when the boat fell away from under her as we went over a flukey swell. In slow motion she tumbled arse over tit over the port guard rail, just overbalanced for a second and she was gone. From where I was sat by the halyard there was nothing I could do but shout. Callum and Fabian, both on the foredeck also saw what happened and within an instant , less then 2 -3 seconds they were there and hauling her back onboard. She had managed to grab the guard rail as she tumbled but OH MY my heart fell in that instant as I could see what was about to happen but was totally powerless  to help. What a trouper within seconds with a slightly hysterical laugh Candela was back helping haul down the windseeker. Shaken but not hurt thank god. But a very real reminder of why we clip on and how easily even in mild conditions accidents can happen. If she hadn’t been tethered on it would have been a very real Man Over Board situation. We dropped the sail and it snagged on a piece of loose running strip and teared, Bloody Hell. Fortunately I spotted it before we ripped it too badly and called HOLD. A bit of careful easing and it was released fornunatly a repair that I could do on board. Once the sail was down, repaired and packed the Yankee back up and sailing again it was time to reflect and talk about how close it had been, how fast Callum and Fabian reacted and a huge hug for Candela. After the adrenaline stopped pumping, it was very sobering to think what could have happened.

As the day progressed towards the turn of the decade 2019 to 2020 we ate the spaghetti Bolognaise and fruit crumble and a quiet night watch took us towards midnight local time.  Watch change at midnight and we could see CV26 Ha Long Bay about 1.5 miles away, we had been playing cat and mouse in a Dog fight with them all day and had taken back the lead through the night. Wavy on the helm all night helping us battle our way back to the front of the fleet. At midnight we all gathered on deck and counted down, with a countdown  “3-2-1 Happy New Year” we all yelled into the night sky. Hoping our competitors on Ha Long could hear. Then hugs and kisses all around and it was watch over,  I rang Darren to wish him a happy new year. At home only lunch time and he was prepping for the celebrations at home. Jon, Alex, Paula, Dave and all the kids for NYE at Windgather. The first time ever I have been away from my loved ones at Christmas and New Year and my resolution for next year is to not be away again. I am loving my trip but I love my family and friends more. New Years day and life returns to normal. We are stuck in a windhole and the fleet are catching us, bobbing along and windseeker back up.Running strip repaired, hair washed and knickers washed and hangin on the guard rail. I sit her on my own in the saloon. The on deck crew about to Gybe as we were heading South not North oooops. The standby crew helping and everyone else asleep. Its calm and quiet , quite pleasant but not exactly feeling like ocean racing.  

So many days have gone by without me writing, I am not sure where the time has gone. 4th of January 2020 and we have seen whales,sharks and dolphins in the past few days. Not sure of the species but there was a whale flapping its tail at us for about 5 minutes on New years day. Just off the starboard stern and clear as day. First it broached, which I didn’t see. The cry of WHALE and everyone stuck their heads up out of the companionway. I was down below doing the log so didn’t rush up. Experience of these things usually means that by the time you get there the critter has long since departed. But after another minute of so everyone was still Ooohhing and Ahhhaaaing so I dash up on deck. And yes it was still there flapping away. Amazing, Next up on the sea creatures bingo were some dolphins, a small pod of about 10 came hurtling towards us for a brief play at the bow before they continued on their way. Finally for our full house of sea creatures were a couple of sharks. One appeared off the port stern and more incredibly as we were heeling right over as I looked down over Wavys shoulder there was one large brownish/ grey shark fin right by the guard rail not 2 feet from the side of the boat. With a flap of its tail it went towards our stern as we continued on our way. An awe-inspiring sight. In other news we have had a windhole nightmare over the last few days, that is perhaps why I have not written. I spent a few hours mending during our watch with the sewing machine out, repairing our battle flag and attaching large caribiners to clip it to the forestay rather than using millions of cable ties each time that then need to be thrown away. Every little helps, we also washed all the blocks and jammers with fresh water. We are off the coast of New South Wales and can clearly see the smoke from the Bush fires glowing in the night sky. During the day there is a strange smoky haze that obliterates the sun, and the sunsets and sunrises have been incredible. So many thousands of acres of Bush on fire and we are affected so deeply so many miles away at sea. We are heading up the coast towards Sydney and onwards up to Airlie where I am really looking forward to a few days of with my love. The windhole has also meant that we have dropped back to 4th place after holding the lead since the start. Devastating as we have been so far in front for so long. But that is sailing for you, we were so far ahead we reached the area of High pressure before the rest of the fleet and it was so wide there was no way for us to sail around. No other choice but to wait it out, bobbing about and making pretty patterns on the plotter rather than the nice straight direct track we had been forging previously. Back in the wind now but that lovely lead we had built up has now vanished. Its not over yet though so onwards we plunge, sail change after sail change today constantly trying for the best speed and angle to regain our place.

The race is starting to be very controversial with the late starters potentially winning the race overall, such an unfair race as the wind these 3 boats are getting is way more beneficial for them. It makes a makes a mockery of the whole race.

This morning we have been beating headlong into the wind and the current that flows down the east coast of Australia, making slow progress only about 4 – 5 knots bashing into the waves with spray over the deck. The sun has finally come out as we are now north of the fires and with  northerly wind the smoke is heading south.

Darren is obviously missing me, sending saucy emails, made me smile in my bunk as I read the message.

The smoke from bushfires off the coast of Sydney

A lot can happen in 24 hours. We have been busy. Sailing past Sydney and the smoke from the bushfires is blocking out the sun, an eery orange filtered sun, through the haze. The boat is covered in soot and the sails are blackened. We are sailing reasonably close inshore and there have been all sorts of unusual visitors to the boat that wouldn’t usually adventure out to sea. Dragon Flies and huge bumble bees are not normal visitors 20 miles out to sea. The soot on the deck is full of debris, inch long pieces of bark and charred leaves floating down like confetti. We had been battling against the current for 24 hours and after managing to get on the offshore side of it last night, through some misunderstood instructions from the skipper we sailed back through the current to the landward side thus trapping us inshore. Never mind it might work in our favour but in the short term we have dropped to 5th position. A disaster after leading  the race for so long. So there we were yesterday evening looking at the gorgeous sunset, made all the more spectacular for the smoke, when Wavy used ‘The Force’ to determine there was a chance of a Southerly Buster, a very violent isolated storm. He called all hands, except long sleeper,s for a brief of what to do if one hits. We were all prepped and ready to drop the Yankee in a hurry and to get the main reduced to  reef 3. I was on the main sheet and monitoring the  wind instruments on the starboard helm. The wind had changed direction rapidly and the temperature rose, the wind suddenly dropped an we waited an interminable 30 seconds before Wavy made the call to get the Yankee down NOW and then move straight to reef 3. We just started the drop when BAM we were blasted by winds like no other, fierce and furious, whipping the sea into a tumultuous frenzy. Short choppy waves with the surface being lifted into a white wall of spray, bombarding each of us, still in shorts and t shirts, no one had the time to change into foulies. The halyard started to drop on the Yankee but the force of the wind was holding it up, flapping like the wings of a dragon, one of the crew accidentally let the sheet off the drum as he has a riding turn, instead of asking for help, he inadvertently did the very worst thing. The sheets flogging uncontrollably now as both  lazy and active sheets  twisted them selves into a huge birds nest tangle. The Yankee  downhaul  now being pulled as hard as possible to aid the drop. Eventually it came down inch by inch, Callum, Craig and Greg heaving it down on the foredeck as white water cascaded over them. In the cockpit we were ready for the reef, I was manning the mainsheet as seems to be my post in storms, same place in the Pampero. Thankfully everyone knew what to do as we had been briefed so with the boat pinned sideways the main halyard started to drop, The pressure on the sail making it slow to come down, by now Callum and the foredeck team had moved to the mast to haul on the downhaul there. After an agonising few minutes watching helpless from behind the traveller, the main sail flogging uncontrollably, the cringle  for reef three was at the gooseneck ready to attach the handy Billy (Cunningham). BILLY MADE the cry and in the pit, the grinders in the pit started grinding the reef line to form the new tack. We were starting to regain control, the wind gusting at over 75 knots, still battering us. Thankfully it was warm water and warm wind. Eventually once we had the right sail plan and even though the buster was still busting, the on watch crew went below to quickly get dry and put on foulies, a speedy change and back on deck to relieve the off watch who could then retreat into the relative dry and wind free saloon. I was back on deck as the on watch and we were whistling along at 18 knots in the right direction so all good. Noone was hurt, nothing broken other than a batten in the mainsail, that is easily replaced and a bucket list storm ticked off. Exhilarating, extraordinary and extreme.

The following day and the after effects of the buster still benefiting us with a  steady 25+ knots of breeze from the South helping us head north towards Airlie Beach. It was a wonderful day sailing, Blue sky, Good breeze and the crew chatting and happy on deck, reliving the tales of derring do and adventure of the previous days. The smoke and storm had been something very unusual.

A little Tern made an unexpected visit on deck, Candela called it Alex, exhausted and maybe escaping from the smoke it stayed with us sitting on Wavys shoulder and Phils knee for several hours. Candela rushing around trying to find it bits to eat. Not realising that terns don’t eat piece of cracker  😊 Poor little fella was so tired he was happy  to sit on deck, close to humans a while. I am not sure of his fate, he wasn’t ondeck this morning when I was up for my watch. Let’s hope that a rest onboard was enough.

It’s getting close to race end now only  couple more days to go. But the wind is being really fluky. One minute blowing nicely then next dropping off to nothing, so frustrating as all the boats that were behind us were catching up, thankfully now the windholes are affecting everyone. Darren has set off flying a few hours ago. It’s race now to see if we can sail 550 miles before he can fly right around the world. I know the stopover is going to be busy but I just feel better when he is near. We can have the evenings and nights even if I am busy with boat stuff during the day. In Cape Town Darren was brilliant helping with boat stuff so we could get finished faster.

Last night on 3am to 6am (8.01.2020) was a quiet starry night, we got off lightly as I am now below at 6.45am and its started to rain, and the wind has died. Craig was on bread making duty this morning and it was hilarious to watch as he fiddled with a bowl of flour for nearly 2 hours while chatting and didn’t actually start making the bread. No one dared say anything, the bread is now just gone in the oven at 6.45am (it should be ready for 6am from breakfast for the off going watch) and another 40 minutes to cook. Looks like its cereal for breaky today guys 😊

Its been so HOT today, life above and below deck quite unbearable. Our on watch was 10am to 2pm and the deck was like walking on hot coals. I burnt the soles of my feet and had to sit with them in a bucket of cold water. I then remembered I had brought a small children’s paddling pool. It was divine to sit with my swollen feet cooling. Cheeky Callum was the first to point it out, “You look like a Hobbit!!!!!” thanks buddy, love you too 😊

We have the code 1 up and are now on the final approach to Airlie, it all depends on a good straight run there, we have a chance to come third if we don’t blow it at the last minute. Wavy had an all crew meeting earlier to remind everyone about complacency and that most accidents happen within 3 miles of home. That includes ocean racing too, we also discussed the need potentially for more all hands on deck as we near the finish as there is a very narrow channel about 2 miles wide that we need to sail down. 6 Hours penalty points if we go within 2 miles of shore or an exposed reef. We can’t afford any points deducted so we need to be super vigilant.

Darren has arrived in Airlie after a marathon flight. I can’t wait to see him tomorrow hopefully. Apparently  our apartment is great and only two minute walk from the marina with a great seafront view and a pool at the back of the block. A few days on shore with my love are just what I need. He is the kindest man. After having an upgraded seat on the 14 hour flight from Dubai to Brisbane he changed seats with Steph and let her have the upgrade. Not many people I know would do that I am sure.

Sittin now in the saloon waiting for my bread to cook. I have made rolls and loaves today. Hopefully it will be the last loaves on this leg.

Woken up early with the call “get the skipper, the bag is wrapped” Oh shit  that is all we need, I jumped out of my bunk and headed on deck to see if I could help, Wavy already there and trying to untwist it by steering the boat to help it collapse and the trimmer grinding in the sheet. After a few minutes struggle it looked like it wasn’t going to untwist so he called for the drop. Laura and Craig starting to set up the letterbox and the call, “It’s Clear!!!” thank goodness that could have skuppered our position. The delay while the sail dropped, repacked and rehoisted could have been a couple of hours minimum. Caused by slow trimming of the sheet, we really should only have our best ttrimmers on now, but hey ho.

The last 24 hours and we have sailled really well the whole race, we will come in third and hopefully the 3 late starting boats  won’t catch up enough to take our third from us. Callum told me today he isn’t going to get back on in Airlie. I am gutted I really feel like jacking it in myself. I miss home, I feel like I have done this now. But I won’t, Dad would be so disappointed, I would be disappointed, I can’t give up. I will really miss Callum, I know I bang on about him all the time but I count him as one of my best friends and it is him that makes this adventure bearable.

Only about 6 hours to go and I am sat on deck on a bright moonlight night. Currently on standby and with no jobs to do so catchin up on my writing. Alistair woke me for this standby and I was sound asleep in the few moments while he repeated my name I dreamt he was waking me to make Yorkshire puddings. Very strange how dreams work. Life below for the last few days has been unbearably hot with no respite. Cooking only makes it worse. Sailing down the channel between the islands in the Great barrier reef was spectacular at sunset, we could see loads of tiny island tops peppering the clear blue ocean. The sun red behind some growing clouds and the tricuspian rays fanning majestically down. A wonderful sight on a glorious evening..

Steph, Darren, Chris and Gabs are all meeting up really early this morning to watch us sail past before they meet us at the marina. CAnt wait now to see foot on dry land and get a few days rest, mend the sails and restock ready to go again. It’s going to be very hard to get back on that boat but I will.

Heather xx

PS apologies for typing errors I type onboard in the dark and often lying in my bunk 🙂

Callum, my friend.
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