Almost exactly year after crew-allocation, I officially “signed on” and became part of the Visit Seattle crew for Legs 7&8. This was a very dramatic occasion. I walked through the pouring rain (sans umbrella) to the race offie, entered the door and…was duly logged onto a laptop. Done.
Back to holidaying in the rain it was then…
So official few duties have begun. First of all, there were welcome drinks pit on by Clipper to introduce us to the rest and meet the rest of our Leggers. Having eaten our way around the world over the last 7 months, we actually already know each other pretty well so drinks were good fun. What Clipper did reveal though is that we will likely only be anchoring in Panama (something about the Marina not being completed?). This has big consequences:
- We will be at sea potentially non-stop for up to 50 DAYS
- Everyone & everything will smell worse than I originally anticipated.
- I won’t be able to buy a Panama hat (although I’m still secretly hoping that there will be a Panama-hat boat in the same vein as the mythical ice-cream boat crews encountered during training.)
Anyway, back to playing crew.
The day after crew-changeover day finally involved some Visit Seattle duties. This meant cracking out the “school uniform” (aka bright green crew kit) and meeting at a rather posh hotel to then be processed onto stage in front of 800-odd people. This was the Visit Seattle conference and involved a public celebration of love between Clipper & Seattle. What was amazing was the model of our boat that Clipper gave to the city: I want one! After this, it was straight to the boat for a brief introduction to sailing via a spinnaker photo shoot; less than an hour on the water so we could have our photo taken. Although this was short, I felt somewhat overwhelmed on the boat. It feels like a long, long time since I last sailed. The day was completed by a delicious meal put on by our sponsors for us where some of my crew mates fully established that I am a total lightweight.
The final crew-related activity was today: crew briefing. Before this, I was feeling somewhat apprehensive about joining the boat, but finding out more about our route and our watches have reassured me greatly.
I’ve said that this experience is now “real” at various different points, but it’s only now that I’ve discovered that “real” is a continuum. It’s going to be a long leg where I’m going to feel truly awful and truly amazing in (hopefully) equal measure. But after a crazy week in a new place with new people, I’m finally feeling more excited than nervous. I’d hoped to write lots more, but it’s now quite late and tomorrow is the big one: I set sail with 19 other people a yacht race to Panama. That statement doesn’t sound it, but I’m edging ever closer to “real”.