Watching & Waiting

This time exactly one month ago, I’d probably just arrived home after seeing 12 huge yachts sail out of London to much fanfare. The previous few weeks had been a blur as Clipper & Clipperland had taken over my life: my last week of training, sailing our boat to London and then Race Start itself.

Since race start, my fellow crew on Visit Seattle have sailed over 5,000 miles to Rio and I’ve been tending to my family & friends that I’d quite honestly neglected during the excitement of August. I’ve also become what can only be described as a bit of a stalker, although not in the sinister way (if that’s possible).

This Clipper adventure & the people in it have been such a big part of my life over the last 6 months that it all felt rather strange when the boats left St Katherine’s docks, and the feeling still hasn’t really gone. I suppose it’s the feeling that things are a little bit on “pause”: no more sailing excitement for the next 6 months.

To make up for this, I have been following the race every day and become a bit of an addict. My homepage? The Clipper site. And yes, that is a picture of the boat on my desk ♥

If I can, at around 10 minutes past every hour, I check where the boats are (their positions will have been updated by then you see). Worry then ensures if their position hasn’t been updated and when the boat is in stealth mode – OH THE TENSION!

And another post from Mia...and another...
And another post from Mia…and another…

I’ve been trying to keep other people in the loop by sharing new blogs from Huw & the crew via Facebook and Twitter, and that has definitely helped keep the excitement alive. And actually, it has been pretty damned exciting.

Hearing the stories from the crew, be it through the clipper website or through blogs has been brilliant at bringing those of us left on land along for the ride. There are a whole host of Visit Seattle crew & supporters and Facebook has allowed us to share this buzz between us. It’s also been brilliant hearing from other crew members, and meeting up with crew-mate Andrew briefly the other day brought it home to me how sharing the excitement of this experience is one of the biggest things I’m missing with the boat now at sea. Understandably, only other crazy Clipperites want to talk sailing all day long. Friends, family & work colleagues: perhaps not so much.

After a couple of nights of poor sleep due to wondering whether Visit Seattle have made it to Rio yet (they still haven’t as I write), I’m now looking forward to a) seeing other crew on Saturday to celebrate VS reaching Rio b) hearing from those people who have been on the boat. It’s been a whole 2 days without a crew blog you see. Withdrawal symptoms are kicking in…

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Race Start: “See you in Seattle”

Race start wasn’t just a day. It was a full-on, exciting, haphazard, momentous weekend – and that was for someone who isn’t even racing the first leg! The Clipper boats were finally leaving London for Rio. What it must have been like for those leaving on Leg 1, I can’t even begin to imagine.

Ain't no party like a Visit Seattle Party
Ain’t no party like a Visit Seattle Party
The weekend began by arriving at the boat ready for the 15-16 crew party. The atmosphere at Clipperland (aka St Katherine’s docks) was electric: huge numbers of people were milling about looking at the boats, but only special Clipper folk with special Clipper wristbands could go down onto them.

Our boat was completely packed. 4 weeks worth of food, 20-odd people’s worth of stuff: it was really rather warm & “cosy” below decks and this was just in the UK. Think of the doldrums! Time to meet some more crew that I hadn’t yet met (there are 56 of us after all) then it was off to do some dancing. Any excuse.

Look! HE'S HOLDING A SWORD!
Look! It might be a poor photo but HE’S HOLDING A SWORD!
For the Clipper crew party, hundreds of the Clipperati got together in London at the rather swish Grand Connaught Rooms. For once, we actually saw each other not in sailing kit. Turns out we all own normal clothes! Unsurprisingly, Visit Seattle were the first crew on the dancefloor and the last off with some most excellent moves in between. There was also much delight on the relevation that in his “action shot”,  our skipper Huw looks like he is holding a SWORD! Simply. Amazing.

For one reason or another (or just crap planning on my part) the next 2 nights were spent in a bunk on the boat, this time in my super-light sleeping bag rather than my normal super-massive Gauss bag. Lying there, it was quite surreal to think this would be my last night on our boat for 7 whole months. If I just hid in the sail locker, I could stow away to Rio…

(…I’m now writing on my phone from the sail locker. They haven’t found me yet…)

Sunday morning and it was Race start day. Although both later-leggers, Kate & I were joining the crew on the boat during the day to look after some drummers, so I joined the crew for breakfast. All dressed up in our official Visit Seattle kit (grey tshirts, green jackets), there was fun and laughter but also a little bit of tension in the air. I suppose it was a fairly big deal, sailing to Rio and all that.

Kate & I taking one last photo of the glorious-in-green Visit Seattle Crew
Kate & I taking one last photo of the glorious-in-green Visit Seattle Crew
The rest of the morning went by in a bit of a blur. Lots of prepping and photo taking. After hoisting our drummer up the mast, Kate & I stayed on the boat whilst the crew went up for their official send –off on the stage, processing in a line of little green men. We’re clearly going to be the party boat as there was dancing on stage and Huw admitted that we were all wannabe pirates. It was then time for goodbyes with people that I won’t see for a long time now, followed by frantic waving from supporters & fellow crewmates alike as Visit Seattle zoomed out of the marina. I didn’t want to stay and watch. That was it; Visit Seattle was off to swan about under Tower Bridge then sail to Rio.

The crew at their official send off. Dancing of course.
The crew at their official send off. Dancing of course.
I’m going to really miss my Clipper friends on that boat, even though we haven’t all known each other for all that long. After such a manic, sailing-filled month, it now feels a little odd the boat is gone and that my Clipper experience is on hold until April next year.  I’m already filling the gap a little by making sure crew, friends & family in the UK are kept up to date with blogs etc (ie. team stalker) and that we’ve got suitable parties organised, but it’s going to be a long time tracking them now. Visit Seattle is now just a little white boat symbol on a big grey digital ocean.

Follow the crew via Twitter @VisitSeattleRTW or search for Visit Seattle on Facebook

Visit Seattle - a little white boat on a big grey ocean.