And so it begins…

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:

  1. We will be at sea potentially non-stop for up to 50 DAYS 
  2. Everyone & everything will smell worse than I originally anticipated.
  3. 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”.

On stage in front of a few people

An unexpected holiday 

The plan with Seattle was to arrive in the 21st, help with boat stuff as the crew would get in on the 20th then set sail to Panama on the 28th.

This hasn’t quite turned out to be the case. 

Visit Seattle visited Seattle on the 17th of April, meaning most of the boat maintenance etc had been done before I arrived. Yes, sail days had been set up and there were crew meals to go to, but as a new letter (aka crap sailor), I wasn’t needed on the boat. My time was my own! What does this mean? It means here I am, nearly a week later writing a blog at the top of the Space Needle (as you do) as I have been action-packed ever since.

Prize giving

I arrived in Seattle in Thursday 21st, just in time for the Prize giving later on in the day. I was VERY keen to go to this as they were going to show the supporters video (hurrah!). Following a lengthy email chain with Clipper and a stake-out in the Race office, Vernon who is doing Legs 7&8 too, his partner Sarah & I managed to get tickets . It was then to the Seattle Aquarium: an excellent place for the giving of prizes. Slowly but surely, we saw everyone from Visit Seattle again. It was brilliant to see everyone and also the friends & family that have been following the adventure. After all, I’ve probably spoken more to the shore support over the year than the crew! They then played a rather epic video of the crew on Leg 6 and also the supporters video (hurrah!) that they then left on loop for the rest of the evening (hurrah!) so VS love was shared throughout the night. In the meantime, I was reunited with Emily and we went to explore the aquarium. Highlight: sea otters doing their sea-otter-lying-on-backs-looking-cute thing. I took lots of photos. None of them do the cuteness of the chilling sea otters justice. 


Exploring

After prize giving, the rest of the week was spent exploring. When I say exploring, I really mean moving from cafe to restaurant to bar. Friday was spent…I can’t quite remember what, but we were all together at a restaurant for Tino’s birthday in the evening. Then on Saturday, Jon, Nikolas, Jesse & I formed a crack high-speed walking team to complete the Seattle Urban Trek, aka walking 7 miles and play school games at various stations. We then explored the underground city of Seattle followed by some coffee tasting at Starbucks Roastery. 

Looking awesome “trekking”

Sunday was spent mostly getting really wet as I didn’t realise you could borrow umbrellas at our hotel, so Emily I wandered around working the “drowned rat” look. First of all was a breakfast hunt: one of the challenges of not staying in an apartment. Fruit was required as I realised I’d been living pretty much on bread & chowder alone, so granola was assessed (verdict: poor). We then wandered and went for cheesecake en-masse at the Cheesecake Factory (yes! THESE THINGS EXIST!). After all that cake, it was time for a nap. I’ve been trying to pack in as much sleep as possible this week in anticipation of very little of it from tomorrow onwards. 

Monday we did some sailing (another post entirely) and then Tuesday was spent being shown some more of the city by my friend Luke’s girlfriend Katrina: this is where I discovered, amongst other things, that Seattle is a place where there really are trolls under bridges. It was then to the Seattle Mariners baseball game to see Huw throw the ceremonial first pitch. This was quite surreal: all the stereotypes I had in my ahead of what a baseball game is like were fulfilled. I didn’t realise though that baseball is rounders! Really, really long rounders.

Clipper on tour at the baseball. Surreal.
 

So now it’s Wednesday, and tomorrow I set sail. No more comfy beds, no more showers, no more wifi (we’ve all been wifi-hopping in the absence of phone data). It’s all about errands today and of course, the Space needle. Seattle has been amazing; relaxed and amazing and it’s definitely somewhere I’ll come back to someday. 

66 hours in LA

WordPress has failed me. After spending my flight writing a lovely post on my time in LA, it’s only gone and deleted it. Take 2:

For the start of this trip, I had 66 hours in Los Angeles to visit my friend Sam who has lived there for some years now. Same continent, so practically just around the corner from Seattle.

Unfortunately, the majority of my time in LA was spent asleep: 39 hours in fact. After arriving at 5.30pm on Monday, convinced that I could overcome this jet lag thing, I fell asleep at 9.30pm. I next woke up at 7.40pm on TUESDAY when I realised it was dark and I was horrendously late for dinner. Queue rapid getting-reading, cursing myself and generally being calamitous in a barely conscious state. Sam thought I’d been run over. But I did make it to dinner.

Dinner. Lunch. Dinner: these few days proved to be mostly an education in food – excellent considering this is possibly my favourite thing in life. 

Monday I was awake just long enough to make a VERY exciting discovery: that the PizzaHut unlimited ice cream machines of old are not dead! They live on! And in a place where you can get multiple different flavours with as many different toppings as you like. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when Sam showed me this place. Ice cream heaven.

Tuesday I was awake long enough only for one meal, but this was a delicious education in all things meat & miscellaneous for Sam’s birthday. I can now say I’ve tried bone marrow. And it was remarkably good!

Wednesday I was awake long enough for two whole meals and a trip to the Getty gallery. For lunch, we swapped poor salad in Biggleswade for posh sushi in Beverley Hills (I love that I just got to write that – sorry/not sorry Team Jordans!) followed by a couple of hours in the gallery. This is where the picture with this post was taken – I couldn’t get enough of the views from there. It was then time for Santa Monica beach, pier and seafood. $10 converted into quarters meant a lot of arcade games during this stint. 

Thursday I was awake long enough to be driven to the airport, discover that my favourite sweets are everywhere in the US (yes!) then get on a plane and fly to Seattle. After such a great time, I didn’t really want to go.  Sunshine, seafood & glamour or 3 months at sea? 

3 months at sea it is!

How to follow Mia

Throughout this race I will update this blog as often as possible. But rumour has it that the Internet signal isn’t so good in the middle of the ocean, so for between ports, key links & dates to follow the race are below:

 

 

Key dates:

 

11 hours done

It’s all about “firsts” now, the first of the firsts being my first long haul flight. Take one energetic Mia, place in metal tube with limited wriggle room for 10-11 hours and here are the results:

1 hour in, 9.5 to go

There’s something about getting on a plane that sends me to sleep, today being no exception. I was gone before we even took off. It was easy as this plane is particularly pleasant: shiny & new, sat at the front (Hello legroom!), no small children and I’m not sandwiched in my seat. I’ve already woken up though because I am hungry. Hungry for the wafers I know are in my bag. All that pacing at the airport means I need refuelling. Wafers! Waffffffeeeeeerrrrrs! Nom nom nom…

3 hours in

I’ve been fed, watched 1 film, watched people wander around the plane, watched people get prosecco, played solitaire, played in the dark with an interactive globe that maps this flight, started watching another film. I still have over 7 hours left. 7 hours. 😳

3.5 hours in

We’re passing over Greenland but I can’t look out of the window due to a) Being in an aisle seat  b) Fancy frosted/tinted the Windows. WHY?! It’s early evening in the UK, it’s morning in the US. Sunshine people, we need sunshine!

4 hours in

People have brought duvets with them on this flight. DUVETS! I’m resorting to chair dancing instead. I’m just gonna shake shake shake…for the remaining 6.5 hours

4 hours and 5 minutes in

Just discovered that Taylor Swift is the only song I have on my iPad. Massive fail.

Time to buff-up on my Clipper notes instead. It’s only been 7 months. Oh, maybe not. It’s now really, really dark in here. It would appear we’re being forced to go to sleep.

I am going to revel in the daylight in LA after so many premature hours of darkness.

Lots of hours in, lots to go

Unusually for me, I haven’t fallen into a deep sleep yet on this flight despite the forced-darkness, just some light dozing. Time to change my tactics. I’m now convincing myself that it’s 2pm again (so LA time). All clocks have been changed and my loudest, most energetic music is being played. Cue more chair/foot dancing. This also means I’m now hungry again despite 7 hours of being a inert blob. Should have bought more wafers. 

Under 2 hours to go

Finished dancing so back to my in-flight screen to be educated about Killer Whales. Over dramatic voiceover helps reinforce my fear of the sea (or more accurately, what’s in it. My work colleagues have thoroughly traumatised me with stories). Lesson learnt today: killer whales are everywhere, so don’t fall in the sea and act like seal/narwhal/tasty-marine-snack.

43 minutes to go

Now feeling perky fuelled by mysterious cheese sandwich, daylight and finally, if I hover above my seat, a glimpse out of the windows. There’s a whole different continent down there! Should have picked a window seat, I’m definitely missing out here. I keep thinking it’ll be OK as I’ll be able to look on the way back but I keep forgetting that there is no flight back: it’s going to be a rather different perspective. I’m definitely in holiday mode. Anyway, a mere 36 minutes left now and I’m not feeling too rough yet. Boom.

28 minutes to go

The Captain has just announced that it’s 25c in LA. It was 13c when I left home. Oh yes.


Over 24 hours later
Accidentally slept through my ENTIRE first day in LA. Went to sleep at 9.30pm, woke up at 7.40pm. Oooops!

No longer counting

Soooo..

I’m sitting in Gatwick airport looking pretty damned cool. I’ve got “my first waterproof rucksack”, sailing boots and a very-practical fleece on, my final Costa flat white by my side (oh I’m going to miss these). My bags have been packed, my fingers crossed that everything is in them and good byes said to my lovely family, friends and Steve.

Turns out most things I own are either black, pink or purple. Makes it easier to disguise my alcoholic packing-aid

This is it: I’m on my own and at the grand age of 27 I am FINALLY LEAVING EUROPE! *Applause please* Oh and I’m finally off to join this boat race malarkey. Yes, the one I’ve been relentlessly talking about for over a year now. Turns out its real after all.

After a somewhat frantic last week at work, this weekend has been spent feeling a little overwhelmed, a little nervous and quite excited when Visit Seattle’s arrival was live on Periscope. As anticipated, it would appear Leg 6 of the race (crossing the North Pacific) was an epic challenge so I’m very glad that I’m joining after this leg rather than before. 

What has been quite amazing though is the sheer amount of support for the crew demonstrated by the friends & family of Visit Seattle. On day 3 of the last leg, we set the challenge of getting 100 messages of support for VS and we totally smashed our target. This means I’ve spent A LOT of the last few weeks on iMovie, sacrificing my sight and hand dexterity to craft a special video. I can’t wait for the crew to see the results in Seattle now.

So, the plan for this week:

  1. LA for a few days to see whether my friend Sam does actually live there or has been making it up all these years.
  2. Fly up to Seattle on Thursday, say “hi!” to a few people I haven’t seen since August
  3. Do some boat things. Relearn to sail in a day. Important things like that.
  4. 28th April: set sail for Panama!

Before all of that, I have to try out a long-haul flight for the first time. This is currently an exciting prospect but might not be 4 hours from now. 

Sorry Sam, I am going to be so, so groggy.

Show the love for Visit Seattle

I have a favour to ask, and I promise you, it’s really, really simple.

Visit Seattle is 3 weeks into Leg 6 of the Clipper race: the big Pacific challenge to Seattle. To date, they’ve been doing pretty well. Not first (let’s be realistic) but most importantly, not last! Woohoo!

That was, until, the bowsprit of the boat broke off again. For the third time in the Clipper race.

 

So that should be attached to the boat
 
“Errrr, what is a “bowsprit”?” Would be an obvious question to ask right now. And if you are asking yourself this, it’s basically the big pointy bit that sticks out from the front of the boat that allows you to sail with “Spinnakers”: the big, puffed up sails you often see on yachts. These sails are pretty crucial if you want to sail fast when the wind is behind you, so without the bowsprit from which to sail them, Visit Seattle is going to be sloooow. Not necessarily super-slow, not necessarily last, but yes, last is very probable outcome. 

Now Seattle is our home port and arriving into your home port in last place would be rubbish. So to give Visit Seattle a big boost, myself & Ali are trying to get 100 pictures of people from around the world showing their love for Visit Seattle.

We’re really chuffed that people have got on board and are showing their love for a Visit Seattle; look at this – it’s amazing! But this where I need you.

A little taste of Supporter love

This will take 2 minutes:

  • Print off the “We love Visit Seattle” poster image below
  • Write your name & where you’re from on it
  • DONE!

Thank you,

Mia x

  

Next stop: Seattle

That’s it, it’s happened: Visit Seattle have officially left Qingdao. 

Next stop: Seattle. 

Next stop: I GET ON THE BOAT! 

Visit Seattle leave for Seattle. AAAAAAAAAAH!

Its now quite surreal to check on the race viewer and know that I’ll be joining the crew at their next stop. Normally, stopovers are all about gleaning remotely as much as you can about the previous leg. Blogs are read, messages exchanged and over the last few months in particular, exclamations about how quickly the race is progressing. I’m going to particularly miss Emily this leg as we’ve been constantly messaging throughout the race. How rude of her to go and sail the Pacific for 4 weeks.

Luckily, there is still a good bunch of Visit Seattle crew & co back in these lovely climes to get excited with about the rest of the race. This week saw another feast, this time celebrating all things China. Well, I say that. Celebrating Chinese food, tea and beer specifically. 

This meal coincided with the race start to Leg 6: probably the toughest leg of the race. I’ve already received emails from the crew asking when we’ll all be available to help in Seattle: they might be just a tad tired after this race. I’m hoping this is where my super-enthusiastic style can help buoy people up (or alternatively be somewhat annoying. Note to self: don’t be annoying).

So, prep for Seattle!

  • Step 1: Whip up excitement a la Social Media. 

This is the BIG STOPOVER. The name of the next port is on our boat. So, it’s time to make sure everyone is sufficiently excited over the next 4 weeks through going OTT on Twitter (follow @VisitSeattleRTW).

  • Step 2: Buy kit. Lots of kit. 

Now, most people that know me have sussed out by now that the main reason I’m doing this race isn’t for the challenge. No, it’s not for the epic adventure, the awesome camaraderie or the retrospective fun. It’s for the technical kit. Oh yes.

Ever since I was a tiny child, I have known that the key to a fulfilling, happy life is accumulating as much technical kit for very-specific-outdoor-conditions as possible. The warm, cosy glow you get from using said kit in said very-specific-outdoor-conditions is only enhanced when your beloved partner doesn’t have said kit and is therefore slightly less comfortable. Unfortunately, I’m usually one step behind in the kit arms race that this ultimately creates, but not anymore! (I’ve just been told that sailing kit doesn’t count in the arms race. Oh.)

Anyway, even though my kit-glow has just been taken down a notch, there’s still a fair bit to get. I now have several sheeps worth of merino, sexy hiking/sailing sandals, a bag almost big enough for me to fit inside (I’ve tried) and enough Stugeron to keep sea sickness at bay for hopefully a long, long time. I’m particularly pleased with the mid layers I’ve recently acquired: they look like a tracksuit but act like a duvet. What’s even better is that despite being huge, they just squeeze under my foulies. ‘Operation Snug’ has begun. All I need to do now is track down some serious socks and a “Ninja buff” recommended by Leo and I might never need to wear anything else again, ever. Life will be complete.

  • Step 3: See loved ones

With just 4 weeks to go now, this is the most important of my task but time is already getting tight to see everyone before I go. Time?! Life! Going! Where?  

Looking at my diary now, it feels like I’m going to be away for a long time even though it’s not really. Friends will have had children in the time I’m away. Wow.

So there you go: my 3-step plan to Seattle. Just a couple of bits missing but they are only minor details. I’ve now got just 4 weeks until this whole huge adventure steps it up a gear. 

It’s nearly time for a casual Ocean Yacht Race!

Level 2, Part 2: Sea Sickness Survival

So, Level 2 – the actual sailing part. (All photos shamelessly borrowed from Level 2 Crewmates. Thanks guys!)

The purpose of Level 2 training was not so much about learning how to sail a yacht but more about how to live on a yacht. This was about spending our time out at sea 24/7, sailing at night and experiencing the watch system. We left Gosport on Sunday to spend 4 days at sea, travelling 307 miles total. 1 of those days was spent being spent holed up in Fowey Harbour in Cornwall due to bad weather, but those 4 days felt like a MONTH! Feels like I’ve condensed a lot of life experience in over the last week. Here are some of the joys…

My happy sea sick face.
My happy sea sick face. Not. Photo nabbed from Nikki.

Sea Sickness

I’ve never experienced sea sickness before, and I never want to again. As the winds picked up and the boat begun to rock  on Sunday night, many of us ended up being sick. We were sick in the loos, sick on deck and unfortunately for some, sick in bunks. The worst part, however, was the transition between getting out of your bunk and going on deck.

In our bunks, we were all chucked around as the boat heeled over and ploughed through waves. You have a cloth tied alongside your bunk to stop you falling out, but the sensation is really quite odd; like bouncing in slow-motion on a bouncy castle/trampoline with the occasional rugby-tackle as a large wave hits the boat. Staying horizontal in the bunk was fine, but when it came to getting out – well – that was the horrible part. Cue trying to get clothes on as quickly as possible whilst being chucked from side to side. This really made me feel nauseous, so for the first 24 hours, I spent quite a lot of time lying on my belly on the deck, head out over the edge just waiting for the nausea to subside. This, combined with the watch system and the delightful recipe below meant I felt the roughest I have ever been in my life, physically and visibly. I didn’t recognise myself in some of these photos at first.

Clipper Recipe for Manky Sailors

  • Take 10-14 slightly bonkers but fresh people.
  • Place each in 1 set of clothes.
  • Add a few drops of Diesel & the smell of cooking.
  • Mix in fresh sweat and 3-4 gallons of sea water – make sure you top this up every day!
  • Once everything is mixed together, shake vigorously to ensure sick & bruises form.
  • Roast in a sleeping bag for 2-3 hours every 4 hours, allowing a nice salty crust to develop.
  • Leave to marinate for 4 days on a yacht, wet-wiping and brushing teeth whenever your people are stationary enough to do so.
  • Once your crew is looking and feeling really rough, remove from the yacht and serve to the general public.
Looking hot at Fowie. Good one Lucie.
Looking hot at Fowie. Good one Lucie.

Sea sickness meant I inadvertently did the 5:2 diet last week. Luckily, we had Fox’s Crunch Creams on the boat. This is a biscuit very close to my heart, as the last time I ate them in any quantity was during a rather traumatic Gold DofE expedition when I was 16. 10 years later, they came to my rescue again!

When the steering snapped

On Wednesday, we had the wind behind us to sail downwind back to Gosport. This meant we had some pretty “lumpy” seas (a Huw Fernie definition) and keeping the boat on course at the helm was particularly difficult. The 5 of us from Starboard watch were just about to switch with the others when Ash yelled “Get Huw, we need the emergency tiller!”. Whilst Rupert was helming, the steering had gone and we had no way to control the boat.

As this was only Level 2, it took a few moments for us to respond to Ash’s call. Within minutes, however, Huw was up on deck (he moves FAST!) shouting at us to get the Yankee down (the big sail at the front) to slow our speed. I was the nearest to the front of the boat, so moved as quickly as I could to the bow to try and pull the sail down.

We had one of the smaller Yankee sails up, but these are still pretty massive, so it took a huge amount of effort to even get hold of the sail to try and pull it down, it was flapping so strongly in the wind. I managed to grab it but as we couldn’t control our direction, I lost my grasp and the sail inflated again. I was clipped on, but I can see now how people end up going overboard! On the second attempt, I managed to grab hold of it and by then the rest of the crew had joined me. With some calls of “2, 6, heave” we then managed to wrangle the sail into the boat between us and tie it down. When we turned to face the back of the boat, Huw & Ash had managed to rig up the emergency tiller, steering the boat between them. The emergency was over, but everyone was on edge for quite a while after this with the fear something else might go wrong. In hindsight, it was great to get a taste of some drama as anything could happen during the race. Our arrival back in Gosport at 1am was also all the sweeter for it.

Loving an hour on land at Fowey
Loving an hour on land at Fowey. Another photo stolen from either Lucie or Rupert.

All of the above meant I’ve done some serious character building over the last week. I keep finding new bruises every day and have been completely wiped out for the last 3 days. Having said that, it was a great week with some genuine joys during that completely made it:

Helming at night

Out of all the activities I’ve done on the boat, this is my favourite to date. I was grinning like a crazy woman as we ploughed through waves in Force 7/8 winds at 2am. The targets to navigate by were stars, lighthouses and glittering buoys. The challenge was to keep the boat on course and not to wash your crew mates off the deck. There were only 1 or 2 waves that soaked everyone when I was helming, and I only nearly washed Marta off the deck. That’s why we all clip on to the boat at all times. As well as being a mental challenge, helming was also great for building up the guns as it was physically hard work to move the wheel and combat the waves. Somehow, I ended up helming for 4 hours straight on the final night (helm-hogging clearly) so my back and shoulders are now feeling the pain (in a good way!).

The view out of Fowey. Photo taken by Rupert.
The view out of Fowey. Photo taken by Rupert.

A breather at Fowey

Tuesday was forecast to be the windiest day of the week, and we ended up spending the day on a pontoon at Fowey as a result. Given that we’d all been pretty sea sick for the past 36 hours, it was great to have a break. As the wind was so strong, we were stuck on the boat until a water taxi was persuaded to pick us up in the evening. This meant some cracking games of hangman with my awesome crew and the opportunity to go up the mast. A casual hoist up 90ft or so by my crew and I could see some great views, using my legs to make sure I didn’t swing too wildly.

Dolphins & Puffins anyone?

At one point, we had 5 or so Dolphins swimming & leaping alongside the boat. That was pretty cool. Apparently you could hear us all squealing below decks with excitement. I’ve also since learnt that the tiny black birds I saw flapping for all their might were Puffins!

Not feeling sea sick!

Once I’d finally got over being sea sick, I loved the motion of the boat when on deck. Despite being kitted up in foulies all week, I’ve still managed to get a burnt nose through standing on the back of the boat watching the waves chase us. There was a real beauty to it as well as being exhilarating – the back of the boat was up and down all the time like a roller coaster.

Level 2 has definitely brought it home how tough the race is going to be next year, but I’m so glad we had the week we did. It’s only 2 weeks now until my Level 3 training and I’m not looking forward to getting sea sick again. I am looking forward though to hopefully having another fun week sailing faster with another crazy set of people.

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.