Level 3: A bit of a mash up

Level 3 was a bit of a mash up between Level 1 & 2. It began with another day of learning as per Level 2, followed by the long days sailing and long nights sleeping of Level 1. Limited wind, limited drama, sunshine and A LOT of learning meant it was a good way to spend a week! I’ve returned a whole lot less knackered but looking a whole lot more like a teabag for it.

Relaxing on the ever-so-spacious Clipper 70

The first day of Level 3 was spent in a classroom learning the official ISAF way not to die. Needless to say, quite a lot of sugar and coffee was required to stay alert through the day, but after several hours of numb bum syndrome, it was back to Gosport Marina. This week we were staying in the very Clipper 70ft yachts we’ll be racing around the world in – no more tiny 68ft boats for us.

Each day we woke up at 6.30am for a rather early breakfast at 7am before heading off sailing for the day, returning sometime after 9pm. The theme for this week was repetition: hoist hoist hoist, tack tack tack, gybe gybe gybe, drop drop drop but STILL I managed to get something wrong pretty much every single time.

Asked to lead something: got it wrong.

Asked to solve a problem: got it wrong.

Asked to hop on the pedestal and spin my arms furiously: now there’s my niche!

I definitely think I’m better suited to being an obedient rower in this situation rather than the cox. I’m consoling myself that at least its better to make these mistakes cruising the Solent rather than racing across the Atlantic. Think it might be a bit more important to get it right then.

A select few Team-Huwers on deck
A select few Team-Huwers on deck

The week had plenty more stand-out moments, albeit a little random when you put them all together:

“Apple chat” – an example of the many comedy moments experienced on the boat. As a result of this, I’ve decided than Sean from my crew is an ideas machine and that Huw is definitely good value when it comes to amusing conversation.

Helming with the Spinnaker up – this is basically the huge sail you can have at the front of the boat that puffs right up. I really enjoyed helming during my previous 2 weeks of training, but it was a different kettle of fish with this flying. The challenge was to keep the sail inflated at all times; move too far one way and it would deflate. Move too far the other, and it would deflate. Was definitely feeling the tension with that sail up.

Wooling & singing – after the mild peril of managing the spinnaker whilst it was flying, each time we retrieved it, we had to stretch the damn thing the length of the boat, roll it up, then tie it with wool every meter or so. As fun as this sounds, it was made even more so doing this at the front of the boat below decks, the result being two of us feeling a little queasy whilst sail-wrangling. The upside of this was that I discovered singing helps fend of sea sickness for me. Unfortunately, the only songs I could think of were Enya “Sail away” and “Tequila, it makes me happy”. Level 3 was indeed a musical mash up.

Happy bowline faces
Happy bowline faces

Tying one-handed bowlines – given that I used to really struggle doing this knot with two hands, I now feel like a pro being able to tie a loop around myself with one hand. Good if I end up off the boat needing to tie myself back on. Bad if I end up off the boat trying to tie myself back on and accidentally chop my hand off in the process of doing so (quite likely). I’m going to stay on the boat and save that knot as a party trick instead.

Lovely view of the boat being deep cleaned as I nursed my head. Fool.
Lovely view of the boat being deep cleaned as I nursed my head. Fool.

Stepping up into the boom – wouldn’t recommend this one. I ended up spending my last hour on the boat with an icepack on my head after walloping my head. I think I may be genetically pre-disposed to this as my dad has a sailing helmet, he’s hit his head so often. Calamity Hartwell.

Finally, the thing that’s really made all of these training weeks so far are the people I’ve met. It’s amazing how quickly & easily you get on with people literally all in the same boat, even when you release the full crazy (important that my future crew-mates are prepared). For example, Ros & I took up the comedy challenge of coming up with ever increasingly ridiculous things that we should buy for the boat from the crew fund (Ros, this makes you a most excellent person).  Our future skipper despaired at this somewhat, but unfortunately for him, it only made it more amusing. So far we have planned an on-deck jacuzzi with gazebo to go over the top and drink cocktails in.

Clipper 70 Post-Jacuzzi installation. Only minor modifications required.
Clipper 70 Post-Jacuzzi installation. Only minor modifications required.

I also suggested a stopover challenge for crew to dress up as ninjas and trophy other team’s mascots (a fair bit of wine had been quaffed by this point). Unreasonably, Huw was not impressed. I think it’s a cracking idea.

I’m now off to find 22 ninja suits ready for team building in June before returning to Gosport for Level 4 in August. It’s going to feel a long 2 months before I get on a sailing boat again; can’t wait for final week of training!

Level 2, In pictures

Apologies have to go to Dana, Tiffany, Rupert and Lucie for the prolific photo nabbing, but I know that the Hartwell & Dodman clans will appreciate being able to see them on here.

Two of our clever crew had GoPro Cameras that got some cracking pictures & videos. I’m now seriously considering buying one – I could totally justify it for Via Ferrata alongside this. Think of the action shots!

Click on a photo to see a larger size

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.

Meeting my crew

WARNING: This is a bit of an epic blog post for me. I’ve done the magic combo of gruelling exercise + delicious food so my fingers are ON FIRE!

Last Sunday, 500 or so people dressed in bright red jackets descended upon Portsmouth. 500 people all there to find out further details on the race route but most importantly, crew allocation. Who was going to be their skipper? Who was going to be in their crew?

I was just one out of these hundreds (that’s me, the one with the yellow halo. Should have worn a red & white striped hat). The excitement of this day had been building for me for quite a while. I was going to find out out who I’d be sharing a boat with during my legs of the race. I was also hopeful we’d find out the final ports planned for the race. This hope wasn’t entirely fulfilled, but I now finally know which crew I’ll be sailing with.

On arriving at Portsmouth Guildhall, it was great to see my Level 1 Crew again. I’d had to que for ages waiting for my photo to be taken only to be told I needed to wait until the end of the day, so it was nice to find a seat waiting for me reserved with my Clipper friends.

Red jackets on, we all sat at the back waiting to find out our crews. Would any of us be put together?

Waiting for it all to kick off in the back row
Waiting for it all to kick off in the back row

We first found out that the start of the race will be from St Katherines Docks in London, and most importantly for me, the finish will also be there! I always hoped that I’d get the chance to sail through Tower Bridge to a finish in London – sailing home near enough – and now it’s confirmed. If you’re reading this, I expect you to be there cheering please and not comment on how I smell after a while at sea.

Once the route had been confirmed (alas not the start ports for Legs 7 & 8), it was then the turn of the 12 skippers to each stand up in turn and read out the names of their crew. This was the really exciting and also really nervous bit.

Each skipper read out one half of their crew before moving onto the next skipper. The result was that those of us from L1 had to wait a pretty long time to find out which crew we were in as very few of us were mentioned in the first half.

Finally, our names were each read out and displayed on the screen. Turns out I’m the only Mia in the race. I’m pretty happy about that. Must be because no small children are allowed in,

I will be racing on Team Huw during the 15-16 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. We don’t know our sponsor yet (hence the name Team Huw) but since my name was read out, I’ve met a great group of people that I’m looking forward to sailing with.

It's real now, I'm on the website!
It’s real now, I’m on the website!

The rest of my L1 crew were spread across different boats, bizarrely, 4 ending up on the same boat!

Once the name-call had finished, we were all ushered off into our team rooms to talk team.

There were 33 of us there from Team Huw – all different nationalities, all different ages. Quite a few of the people there were doing the legs I’m on, so it was nice to meet people I’ll actually be sailing with. Huw then introduced himself and split us into groups so we could plan a) What our crew charter will be  b) How we want to be seen by other boats   c) What we expect from Huw as our Skipper.

It took a little while for us all to gel and get the thoughts going, but by the end we were coming out with some cracking plans. Standout things I’ve taken away from what my group discussed have to be: Boat Motto: “Fast & Fun”, Galley Rule No. 1: “Don’t let crap cooks cook alone” and finally, The Lego theme tune probably won’t go down well as crew song. Sad times.

Having various branded wristbands makes it even more official
Having various branded wristbands makes it even more official

After all that, we went for some drinks together at Gunwharf keys, following the stream of red clipper jackets all wandering that way. I had to leave fairly early to catch a train home, but it was good to start getting to know some of the others a little better. A midnight arrival back home and I was shattered, but crew allocation day totally lived up to my expectations.

A whole new language

This evening, it hit home to me how I’ve begun to learn a whole new language without even realising it. It came to me as I was sharing the dark arts of rowing with newbies at my rowing club.


“Start at the finish, then slide up to the catch”

“Bunnyhop for the first quarter of the slide”

“Get the split down but maintain the rate”

“Tap down a bit more to get your blades out before pivoting”

I’ve been rowing since I was a teenager, so all of these terms are deeply embedded in my memory. Its completely obvious what they all mean. Isn’t it?

Today, I was reminded how the rowing lingo I take so much for granted was like a whole new language to the people I was teaching. That it takes time to get your head around it and really understand what the terms refer to – just like it was for me during my first level of training for the race. The difference between rowing and sailing, however, is the SHEER QUANTITY of new terms you have to learn. Take the parts of the boat, for example. I used to think rowing could be a bit complex, but my perspectives have now radically changed!

Not much to learn here
Not much to learn here
Parts of a yacht
Slightly more to learn here

I’m not the most patient of people so I can sometimes find it a bit testing teaching rowing. How our skipper and first mate had the patience to teach 10 of us how to sail a 68ft yacht from scratch I’ll never know!

The upside is that having recently learnt something completely new, I really appreciated today how patience and clear explanations from your instructor make a difference. It completely makes the learning experience (or breaks it – I hope I don’t find out on level 2!).

I’ve now just got to crack on with remembering and surely learning lots of new terms as part of this sailing experience. The top picture is a brain-dump of what I’ve learnt so far from just one week, although I’m pretty sure there is a lot I’ve missed off. My Level 2 training is now just over a week away so I’ll soon be back on board with plenty of time to practice it all again soon.

Sweating & Grinding on Level 1

So, the first part of my Clipper race adventure is over! Last week, I completed the first of 4 weeks worth of training I have to complete this year. 

20 of us arrived in Gosport last Thursday afternoon to be split into two boats.  I had fully expected it to be a pretty gruelling week having read other blogs. There were, however, a huge number of things I didn’t expect and that I’ve learnt since:

1. That it would be so much fun!

The crew on CV3 (our 68ft floating home for the week) was absolutely great and completely made the week. Not to forget Emily our Skipper and Paul as first mate. We were pretty much constantly laughing. Inhibitions were lost pretty damned quickly which helped, so much so we became the “party boat” out of the 2 level 1 crews sailing that week. Hilarious.

2. Lots of sweating & grinding is necessary 

Not just for late nights in dodgy clubs apparently (not that I’d know – thanks Sam!). I’ve learnt a whole new language over the last week, and apparently only just scratched the surface. Luckily,  there is a large helping of innuendo with many of them so it was highly amusing for all on board. 

3. I need to build some serious muscle and spatial awareness

This is mostly for the sweating and grinding (to hoist the sails!) and for lifting the very heavy sails & ropes on deck. On the command of “2, 6 heave” we managed to moved things between us, but it was seriously hard work. The Circuit training that I do for rowing paid off, but more upper body strength is required. Time to build some guns. Alongside that, the system of lines and knots needed takes some time to get your head around. Spatial awareness has definitely been improved after just one week.

Practicing knots on deck

4. That MK is apparently so dodgy that dangerous parts of the boats are named after it.

Boo 😦 clearly no one in my crew had ever visited properly. “But I’m not actually from Milton Keynes, i’m from a village outside it don’t you know”. I think my protests just confirmed their suspicions. 

5. That you can never have too many carbs

Every single meal or break involved biscuits or pasta. Now this no bad thing, carbs being my favourite food and lots of energy being required. I am, however, looking forward to veg this week (having just had more spag Bol back on land).


Preparing carbs in the galley

6. You will be physically punished.

And not just by being made to clean disgusting bilges on the last day. Through a combination of scrambling around on deck, handling ropes and lifting heavy objects, I am battered, bruised and aching, not to mention weather beaten. My hands and knees in particular felt the strain, but quads hurting too today from all bending and lifting. Ow.

7. Delayed Onset Knackeredness Syndrome

During training, I really didn’t feel hugely tired. Yes, I was weary at the end of each day, but I felt pretty chipper each morning despite some late nights. This was no doubt helped in part by my super cosy sleeping bag (still on love with it), but on reflection, I think I was running mostly on pure adrenaline. I know this because today I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Things didn’t stop swaying either until this evening. Positively falling asleep at my desk today despite being back on land. 


The super-snug yellow beast in action.

There’s so much more I could and hope to write about level 1, but DOKS is compelling me to sleep. Thanks must go to Jen for the photo of me on the deck – possibly the only one of me actually doing something related to sailing!

Learning the ropes

…or knots should it be said. According to the Clipper handbook, I need to crack 8 knots before I step on a boat. And with just a week to go before my first week of training, I have cracked one. Just. One. Knot. This isn’t even the the most crucial knot (the bowline is what I must know apparently). All I can tie at the moment is a figure of eight and my shoelaces.

It’s not for want of trying. Each week, I’ve been having “knot tutorials” with a seasoned rower and ex-sailor at my club (thank you JK!). We’ve covered a couple of knots that I can master at the time, but can I remember them now? No. 

Cue kitchen struggles trying to attach a chair to a rope. The chair is still not attached to anything and my rope looks like this:  


Learning practical skills has never been my forte, but it appears I need to get A LOT quicker at picking them up. 

Fun week ahead now frantically learning the ropes ready to start training!

A tad nervous

I’ve been slightly nervous the last couple of days. Not because of anything major, but all because of one line sent on an email last week: “one place left”.

The email in question was one sent from Clipper HQ letting me know that there was just one place left on Leg 8 – the final leg of the race. I’d expressed an interest but did I still want it? And if I did, I needed to get my revised contract back quickly or it was onto the waiting list with me. Nothing was guaranteed.

The Clipper RTW race is split into 8 legs and around 16 races, allowing people to join at different stages.

I originally only signed up to Leg 7 of the Clipper race as I’d initially resigned myself to one leg for holiday allowance and financial reasons. There was also the thought of crossing the world’s second largest ocean – slightly scary. After attending the interview and crew briefing days, however, I quickly realised that I really wanted to do Leg 8 too. How would I be able to step off the boat after the penultimate leg and fly back to the UK when the boat I had been on was sailing back?

I like to think I’m saving on a return flight, but adding on a extra leg to the race makes it even heftier financial commitment. It seems I’m not the only one that can’t resist doing more than one leg though: at the crew briefing day, not once did I meet someone doing just one leg. Every conversation was about how they were doing multiple legs and how they’d added more on along the way. When we were told at the that the race was nearly full, I had to sign up for the final leg, crazy woman that I am.

Luckily, today it was confirmed that I’d secured that final place on Leg 8. The result? Relief, but probably more nerves on too! The North Atlantic is going to be pretty damn scary, but the return home will make it worth it. I’m hoping we return to London as per last year – sailing under tower bridge after months away would be a brilliant end to this adventure.

First piece of kit

One of the upsides of signing up for a Yacht Race is that you need to invest in some technical, yacht-appropriate kit. I love technical kit, so serious excitement today with the arrival of my new super-cosy Gauss sleeping bag!


Even though my Level 1 training is still months away, a waterproof sleeping bag seemed like a good up-front investment. Anyone that knows me will know that I love my sleep and as I won’t be getting a huge amount during training or the race, I wanted to make sure I had something cosy to retire to.

The majority of Clipper blogs recommend either a Gauss Dreamliner bag or an Ocean Sleepwear bag for the race, the main advantage of both being that you stay dry (nice touch). I’m keen to get as much pre-loved kit as I can for this adventure to keep costs down, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for both of these on ebay and fierceturtle.co.uk – a Clipper site selling new & pre-owned kit. Luckily, I managed to find this second-hand gem on ebay.

Compared to my normal camping sleeping bag (a mere 1.5kg), this is an absolute GIANT of a sleeping bag. “Looks like a liferaft” was the first comment it inspired. It’s definitely not lightweight, but I was straight in it after managing to evict it from it’s bag.

I can see many happy nights ahead in this yellow beast. In fact, I’m pretty tempted to sleep in it straight away – fleece lined, massive pillow, lots of space = extra-snug goodness.  Not sure how I’m going to wrestle it back into it’s bag or transport it, but right now, I’m seriously chuffed.

First piece of technical sailing kit – check!