Level 2, Part 1: Sea Survival

A month ago, I returned back from Level 1 training thinking I’d had a pretty hard week learning to sail. Now I know better.

Level 2 training for the Clipper Yacht Race was unlike any other experience I’ve had to date.  I suspect I’ll be saying that quite a few times more as this Clipper malarkey progresses, but really, it made my first week of training feel like a distant, happy holiday. It was such an epic week, it justifies 2 whole blog posts.

The first part of Level 2 training was a Sea Survival course, aka “A million and one ways to die and how to avoid it”.

24 of us went back to school for a day by sitting in a classroom learning what to do should we need to abandon ship for whatever reason. We even got a handbook with some lovely little tidbits to keep us encouraged, for example “Chapter 6: Find the will to survive”.

My go-to book on how not to die!
My go-to book on how not to die!

Some of my favourite bits from the day were that you can drink turtle blood to keep hydrated, that fish eyes are like juicy sweets and that you should keep an eye out for shifty looking crew members that might want to cause you some damage (reassuring!). Luckily I was sitting next to Steve from my Level 1 who had a real knack for finding the scariest/most amusing parts of the book.

After spending most of the day in the classroom, we retired to the pool for 2 hours of bobbing around in lifejackets and getting into liferafts. We all got to know each other rather well during this; towing each other around the pool by the armpits, cosy-ing up in liferafts etc. The video isn’t of my course but demonstrates what we had to do.

Overall, it was actually pretty fun. The take-home message, however, was that you don’t ever want to end up in a liferaft if you can help it. Even in a pool, a liferaft is not a nice place to be.

10 wet, soaking people crammed into a small bouncy-castle-come-steam-room swimming with water = not that fun.  A nice big yacht is far more spacious and accommodating, so I’ll be doing absolutely everything I can to stay on them going forward. At least I now know what I need to do should I ever have to get into a life raft. Also now a pro at jumping in the pool in style. Life skills.

Once sea survival was over, we all returned to Clipper Training HQ to meet out skippers and get ready for another week on the 68ft Clipper Yachts. I was going to be spending the week with Ash & Huw training us. This was great as Huw is my race skipper and there turned out to be 5 of us from Team Huw on the boat!  After a full nights sleep on Saturday night in a bunk, we prepared the boat and set off out of Gosport Sunday afternoon. The next 4 days felt like a they lasted a month.

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