Ellie Fearon – Circumnavigator!

Sat 30th Jul

And with that I am a circumnavigator! Really can’t believe I have done it.

We are motoring into London as I write, having won the Den Helder to London race (by 29 secs!) and secured 2nd place in the race overall. A great end to a mad year.

Didn’t write during the past few days because we adopted a rather intense strategy of on watch, then off watch standby, then moving beds each time we tacked (which was a lot!) But it paid off having climbed back from last place when we thought we’d missed the mark and had to go back round.

Generator decided to see me off in true generator fashion by throwing some of its impeller blades into the heat exchanger. Now fixed so all is well. Obviously wore my standard uniform of hot pants and gaffa tape to fix it.

So glad to be home. Cannot wait to not have to sail off again. Work wise things are uncertain, but I am feeling positive.

Hope you enjoyed my blog. If I get round to it I will add some more photos and also some more sections such as a kit review, more about the stopovers and a highlights section, but for now…

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Leg 8 – Round the UK

Mon 18th Jul – Profound Reflections

Not much typing today as it is dark (typical Scottish weather!) and I’m tired partly because our shift was extended changing a spinnaker.

We got roast dinner for lunch yesterday. Amazing. I need to learn how to cook meat (sorry mum!) So many people waved us off in Derry my face hurt from smiling.

I have been thinking that post-race I will feel like Sarah from Labyrinth when she’s back in her room and lonely. No one on this boat has seen or can remember Labyrinth so my poignant reflections are not appreciated (post race update – Labyrinth is now on Netflix guys, so you should watch it! The final scene is linked below from YouTube, but it is really better to watch the whole thing for context)

Tues 19th Jul – Pentland Firth

Finally passed out of the Peatland Firth. Frustrating because of low wind and tide against us, but not the terrifying beast it could have been. There were a lot of markings Dan had added to the chart like “dangerous” and “violent”. He said he had removed the preceding “extremely” so no one would get scared. :-/ Had a snoop round the Scapa Flow bit of the chart – adding to my diving to do list.

Mother duty today (last one). Cremating some enchiladas and coleslaw for lunch, then beef stew for dinner. Think my cherries have gone off, but I plan to eat them anyway. We have also still got fruit in “The Orchard”. This is the new name for the forward bunk area where all the apples are stored.

Looking forward to getting home to

  1. Paul
  2. Cooking my own food
  3. Not having to go sailing in horrible weather
  4. Netflix
  5. Own bed
  6. My clothes
  7. Casual drinks, etc with friends
  8. Kitty
  9. Going back to work (suspect that’s like the end of summer wish to go back to school, which you instantly want to retract 1 week in!)

I have broken another head torch. This one was supposed to be waterproof.

Ooo – forgot to mention the Butt of Lewis (snicker). The visibility had cleared as we went round so I went up to have a look, would be rude not to. It was rocky btw. Gave me a break from marking oil rigs on Nobeltec.

Weds 20th Jul – Tacking across the North Sea

We are currently in the north sea battling with most of the fleet for position. Next step, the Netherlands! Have been tacking a lot, which makes sleeping challenging due to the number of bunk adjustments.

Happy this is the last but one Scopodirm patch I have to wear, they really make me itch!

Ruth and I watched TED talks during mother duty yesterday so we are now well educated. I enjoyed the talk by the founder of Air BnB, definitely the fantasy to come up with an idea like that (and actually execute it!)

Thurs 21st Jul – Oil Rig dodging

Was rudely awoken last night by the spinnaker tearing itself apart and going for a swim in the sea followed by shouts from Dan for everyone on deck (possibly the first time this has been called all year!) Anyway it is in the bag and will stay there until Den Helder. It got its wicked way.

We are now in oil rig territory. Platforms of all shapes and sizes are dotted across the north sea.

It is warmer and there are just over 100 miles to go. Unfortunately we are in 4th place. I hope we can at least squeeze 3rd. Fingers crossed for some wind in our favour.

Wondered today, whilst sitting on the loo, if I need to be more spontaneous and relaxed and less cautious about things.

 

Leg 8 – The last Atlantic crossing

Tues 21st Jun – Homeward bound

And so our final leg begins. We head for home. A mere 6 weeks remain. All we have is 1 Atlantic crossing, a trip round the UK and a channel crossing!

Le Mans start wasn’t our best, mainly because other boats cheated and were a boat length ahead. Ah well, we passed them quickly enough. Today the stern gland leaked and filled the engine room with water and I got smacked in the stomach by the tack line when it blew. If it is a good bruise I will photograph.

Weds 22nd Jun – Slowpoke

Feeling rotten. Tired, slightly sick and headachy. The North Atlantic is not the docile beast of Leg 1. 40 kt tailwinds, surfing 25kts – all a bit exciting for Slowpoke here. We are in the lead, hope it remains so but there are thousands of miles and numerous uncertainties between us and Derry.

Thurs 23rd Jun – Sunfish

Ellie’s imaginary animal of the day – a disc shaped thing with flippers leapt out of the water and belly-flopped back in. I believe it was a sunfish. We also spotted some young whales “floricking”.

We have been busy and working really hard but have seen our lead disappear with the gulf stream. Hope this is not a turning point of the race.

Fri 24th Jun – Are EU kidding me?

Today’s stress is compounded by the very disappointing result of the EU referendum. I feel ashamed of my country and angry with myself for not registering to proxy vote in time. What were people thinking?!

Sailing wise we continue to speed toward Derry. My time is mainly spent on the rail getting splashed in the face by waves. Once again it seems impossible to dry the lower half of my body. There are lots of strange pink jellyfish with sails and scary tentacles in the sea (Portuguese Man-of-War).

Sat 25th Jun – Stinky socks and the Talented Mr Curtis

Wind eased a bit and there was sunshine so the dry suit came off and my socks got an airing. Really regretting leaving a pair of Sealskin socks behind to save weight. My current pair smell like wet cat litter.

Saw some whales.

John has revealed some new talents – doing an impression of the kettle and playing the pasta.

Sun 26th Jun – Chef’s Surprise (Supplies?!)

We continue to work hard to keep our first place but, as usual, this bloody wind hole could be our undoing.

Mother watch today – pasta pesto for lunch (little bit dry!) and renamed “cottage pie” (i.e. corned beef hash revisited) for dinner. Maybe some brownies if we don’t change the spinnaker again.

Mon 27th Jun – Ellie has a (secret) sulk

Frustrations continue as the boats to the west aren’t stuck in the current that is supposed to be there and sail past, LMAX are faster and we wallow in the light winds. For me, I am not just chimping out in the weather, but also just done with this whole thing. I don’t want to party in Derry and Den Helder and all that malarky, I just want to go home.

Tues 28th Jun – Dion’s Derring Dos

Today’s excitement happened when the halyard snapped on the Code 2 spinnaker so Carmen (aka Bellatrix) got to do one of her favourite things  – swim in the sea and rip herself to bits. Dan jumped in with his diving gear to unhook her from the rudder.

In quieter times we have been enjoying “Dion’s Derring Dos” including “Dion gets rescued by Mountain Rescue” and “Dion gets cured by string by the Cuban Witch Doctor”.

We have been spotting lots of whales and I think this can only be credited to the advice we are following from the whale and dolphin spotting book. Apparently if you want to see a cetacean you need to “look everywhere”. Ha ha!

Weds 29th Jun – Feeling like Wee Willy Winkie

Like Wee Willy Winkie I was upstairs and downstairs all night long, except I wasn’t in my nightgown, I was in my foulies and I was sail repairing, grinding, doing logs and scheds, cleaning toilets, emptying bilge buckets… Now quite tired.

Was quite windy last night. Clawed back some miles on LMAX.

Everyone laughed at the surprised face I made when Rich pointed the camera at me. Kieren spotted a transatlantic car ferry (like the Isle of Wight one where you leave your car downstairs and pop up for a sandwich – ha ha) and we learned that Sharon gets a banana boat from her island to the mainland (ok – I slightly fabricated that story! It may be a rib)

Thurs 30th Jun – You what?

So instead of getting into Derry early we are going to give Ireland  a wave and then head to the remote island of Rockall and St Kilda. Everyone is laughing and joking about it, but I just want to go home. I hate the sea right now – I am either bored or terrified. I have a stonking headache and I can’t find the leak where all the bilge water is coming from. Rich filmed me looking in bilges. Very glamorous.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockall

Fri 1st July – Stuff that sucks

Stuff that sucks

  1. Going to Rockall and back. We are going fast = stressful sailing. It is all a bit fast and splashy for me. I am tired.
  2. My neck seized up. Probably a combination of stress, vanging and bilge buckets.
  3. Today’s menu includes tuna and chorizo.

On the plus side I think we did quite well in the sprint, we’re still in top 3 boats and Rich has good gossip about the other boats.

Sat 2nd Jul – Tory Island

Approaching Tory island. Flying a spinnaker in 35kts of wind but need the distance for the inevitable wind hole of disappointment. Tory island has a king and about  250 people on it. Sounds like a deliciously mad place. Heard the soft tones of the Donegal coastguard on the radio.

Sun 3rd Jul – Considering a suppository

Beating upwind toward Rockall quickly losing hard won gains. It is getting chillier. I got no sleep last night as was in high side mother bunk. It was wet, cold and every time we bounced I slid down the bunk.

My neck hurts but not enough to take a suppository, especially now I have bruised myself in the unmentionables.

Mon 4th Jul – Rockall

The Rockall saga – as we rounded Rockall (finally) I expressed concern that we were measuring to the wrong mark. After the excitement had passed and we battled with LMAX, I plotted the point and it showed up in a very different place to where we had it. Oops. Turns out it had been accidentally changed in an amendment without being highlighted Fortunately for us we went round the rock as marked in the Almanac. Telemed protested us and LMAX. Let’s hope Justin’s feeling nice today or that will be a hefty penalty.

In other stressful news – Kieren and Rich told me what happens in Game of Thrones. Grr.

Tues 5th Jul – The final battle

Battle to Rathlin Island continues. Too close for my liking, a podium is still on the cards though. We have run out of flour and kitchen roll. My system seems to be suffering from lack of veg. again. It has been observed that we have had 2 days to go forever. I have been feeling the guilt this morning for how grumpy and angry I have been this leg. Mainly down to stress and worry but that is no excuse. I need to be a better person.

Update – We came second over with LMAX clinching the win into Derry-Londonderry. There was disappointment from some, but I prefer to look at the positives. We have just achieved a podium finish into our home port. We are almost home. We can go to Sainsburys and Wetherspoons (and this we did!)

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With this kind of welcome, how could we be sad with second?! #ifeellikemadonna

 

 

Leg 7 Part Dos, Panama to New York

Tuesday 31st May – Bye Bye bitey insects

Eventually underway after motoring a couple of nights to find some wind. Le Mans start once more and again we smashed it. Now Just to sit back and watch our typical pattern of slipping back in the early stages of the race.

Covered in insect bites from Panama. Luckily mine don’t itch as much as others.

Have 2 wet pairs of pants and 2 wet shorts already.

Wednesday 1st June – Return of the flying fish

Don’t think the Caribbean sun reads that I am wearing Factor 50. Smothered in aloe Vera again.

The past day has been mostly spent sitting on the rail. Starting to get the bruises to prove it.

After yesterday’s dolphin show the sea has been nothing but a soup of seaweed (which all floats along in lines in the same direction) and flying fish which I have been returning back to the sea after their night time suicide attempts.

Thursday 2nd June – Invisible islands

Passing by more islands we will not see, such as Jamaica. Ahead of us currently is Guantanamo Bay, but you wouldn’t know it. We have to stay a minimum distance away from Cuba and Haiti.

Wind has dropped a bit but we’re still pushing hard to try and get ahead of LMAX sExchange and the Garmidiots.

I am sunburnt and have a big juicy pus-filled blister that I have been instructed not to squeeze by our medics.

Friday 3rd June – A sailor went to see sea sea

The spinnaker has been up and we inch our way through the Carribean, not seeing anything but sea as usual.

My bottom is so sore and my arms are bruised and my legs are burnt. Now for the delights of sweating in my bunk for 6 hours.

LMAX did a bit of cheating last night by violating the 12 mile boundary around Haiti. We protested. We’ll see what comes of it.

Saturday 4th June – Being creepy

We just passed an island. An actual island with rocks and a lighthouse and a beach. Not a mirage and not the sea!

We made a bad call yesterday and ended up 70 miles behind the lead 3 boats. But atm we are 4th with LMAX and GB behind. LMAX have put in a protest against us and GB to be spiteful.

Got attacked by midges and beetles last night.

Discussed creepy ways to wake someone up for watch. Top suggestions:

  1. Shout in their face
  2. Stroke their face
  3. Brush their hair
  4. Paint their nails
  5. Put their hand in warm water

Just imagine.

 Sunday 5th June – The Mills and Boon sequel

Sweaty hot horrible day on deck with no ssails Apparently we’ll be expecting some windy stuff soon (40 kt) so reef 3 was rethreaded.

Chris’s torch as romantic fiction author has finally been picked up. Our new storyteller is, on the surface, less racy and more gentile but I feel the subject matter pushes the boundaries further with our first same sex romance under the stars (the stars were incredible last night!)

I felt angry last night. Improved once I’d had a Snickers and a cup of tea. I need to stop being angry at people in my head. Only hurts me.

Monday 6th June – Waiting for Colin

Right now I am meltingly hot and we are awaiting the arrival of Colin, the tropical storm. Yep, that’s right, Colin.

There has actually been talk of pre-preparing food and locating the storm sails. Now even us worlders are worried! Anyway, more losing ground in light winds to do first.

Wednesday 8th June – Colin cometh

Talk and action of the past day mainly revolved around TS Colin (Farrell). When he finally did arrive we found ourselves pinned to our side in a broach that was probably about 10 minutes long whilst we got a headsail down. Definitely warranted some dramatic music. I was mother in the galley where, despite best efforts to be tidy, both me and the cooker got covered in peaches and evaporated milk and lemon squash. My tools also took the opportunity to fly round the boat including a Stanley knife, blade out (no knife champions here!) Finally things settled, although we continued to be tossed about and splashed on. All in all quite scary and I remembered why I don’t particularly like the sea at times.

We also tore the code 2 spinnaker, didn’t win the ocean sprint, look likely to slip back a few places and snapped the throttle off so I will be controlling the engine with my magic finger, Albany style. Not long until New York now.

Thurs 9th June – The fight for 5th

Almost there.Battling with LMAX for 5th place. Not our finest hour really, but hey, it could be worse. I have a tummy ache, hoping some Peanut Butter Cups will help.

I have decided that I am clearly an anomaly in this race because no one else seems to get worried or scared when conditions are rough. Not sure if this is because I am a huge coward or because they haven’t always thought about what could go wrong. I think Paul hopes I will come home and be brave, but I fear I will not!

 

Leg 7 Part Uno – Seattle to Panama

Fri 29th Apr – Leg 7 begins

First, apologies, I omitted some key events from my leg 6 blog…

1) Stephan’s “personal sausage” – now an oft quoted term on the boat, “personal sausage” expresses a preferences for receiving one’s sausage whole as oppose to sharing one casserole style
2) The race of Phil’s life – we all played a part
3) We won!

Anyway onward and upward..??

We started the race with an “execution” sail (beautifully misread by Ruth!) and are now motoring to the real start.

Sat 30th Apr – Go go go!

Finally got the race started – Le Mans style. Weather is currently lovely – blue skies and acceptable winds for flying a code 1. Managed to sunburn my face, which is uncomfortable.

Sun 1st may – Starry nights

Not much to report. Sunny and flying a spinnaker. The night stars here are some of the best we’ve seen.

Mon 2nd May – Sharks and dolphins

Rob has explained how to fight a shark. Apparently it used to be in the sea survival syllabus. You need to punch it in the nose, poke it in the eye, roll it over, stroke it’s belly and then hold it so it can’t swim off and therefore drowns.

In dolphin news we saw some porpoises and Becky said that once her friend swam with dolphins and one of them pulled off her bikini bottoms and swam off with them. Doesn’t surprise me. Dolphins are perverts.

Tues 3rd May – Slooooow

Slowly, slowly trudging along. Going to take aaages to get to Panama.

Thurs 5th May – Mexico

My cold has now got much worse and it is raining outside. At least we are making decent speeds. We are now parallel with the North of Mexico. We have burritos for lunch. I have really gone off the rehydrated mince.

Fri 6th May – A change of pants

In today’s news I found my hat. Or, more specifically, Mike found it in his pocket so now it smells of cigarettes. I have changed my clothes. Wanted to save myself for when it was hotter, but decided that was too disgusting.

First flying fish and onboard squid occurred within the space of an hour.

We are thinking of tipping off the Mexican navy to board LMAX and search for drugs since no redress would be awarded for this apparently. Mwah ha ha.

I also have noticed that all Irish people love Taytos and apparently they do come in flavours beside cheese and onion.

Sat 7th May – Ellie commits a fashion crime

Mikey G, fashion police, is not very impressed with my outfit of red foulie bottoms and pink waterproof coat (even though he’s colour blind).

4 squid jumped onto the boat last night and I learnt that if your tortoise isn’t moving you should put it in warm water. This year has not been a waste of my time.

Sun 8th May – 1st turtle in 36000 miles

I am bored. So, so bored. This leg is very tedious. There is nothing to see except the sea (although I did spot a turtle I thought was a patch of weed). 1 turtle in 36000nm! Cannot see land, there are even less birds than leg 6. In a 6hr watch we spotted 1 tern and 1 gannet. Cannot believe I spent my money to be this bored. Although a flat boat is nice.

Mon 9th May – Derry, un point

We got a scoring gate point. LMAX was just behind us and didn’t. Heh heh heh. Almost got a photo of us, the sun rising, LMAX behind and me giving the ‘V’ sign, but no one else thought this was appropriate. Although it’s good to get a point we did get beaten to the scoring gate by UNICEF and Telemed, who we had a head start on. Shame on us.

Tues 10th May – Diesel, diesel everywhere

We had a diesel leak out of one of the joints (my fault -oops – I am a terrible plumber). Saw some very athletic dolphins and a whale. My knees feel burnt and my big toes feel unnatural.

Thurs 12th May – John’s boobies

A hot and sweaty day of mothering yesterday, but did get a back of the boat shower, which was nice.

Light winds and nice helming today. John pointed out a nice pair of brown boobies diving for fish. He said they always come in pairs, but I suspect this is a rude lie. I spotted some whale spray. I am getting good at wildlife spotting, bodes well for my dive trip to Lundy.

I am reading a book about brain surgery. It is somewhat graphic but quite compelling.

Fri 13th May – Everything falls apart at once

First the generator conked out – changed the impeller and had to bodge a cross threaded bolt hole. Then the engine room filled with water as a watermaker pipe came off (again!) And at the same time the spinnaker ripped. Spent past watch repairing spinnaker and sweating. No air flow down in the sail locker. Felt sick. Plus Dan was in a mean mood and wouldn’t let us have a cup of tea before we started.

Sat 14th May – Sail repair, done

Finished repairing the spinnaker – thank f*ck! It was a sweaty experience.

Tony complimented my helming today. Maybe I should do more.

Discussed our “naked and afraid” useful useful items last night. Dan wants a pair of pants – “if I have a machete I think a pair of pants would be quite useful”.

Mon 16th May – Burning

Oh the searing heat of the Guatamalen sun! Got burnt through my clothes. Ouch! Good day for wildlife – saw 3 turtles and some flipping (actually ‘spinning’) dolphins.

We were discussing our favourite leg the other day/ the one we would recommend to others and Ali, Diarmuid and I agreed on Leg 4 despite our poor result. Diarmuid was impressed by “Australia and the Australians in it”. 🙂

Tues 17th May – Whale’s breath ointment

The yachty botty is back and my American diaper rash cream smells like whale’s breath. Groo. Wildlife continues to be good. Shark spotted this morning and more hunting dolphins. Apparently the things leaping out of the water and spinning are tuna.Tuna wraps for lunch 😦

Weds 18th May – Whales, dolphins, tuna and cheese

Mystery of the whale’s breath smell has been solved. The potion contains cod liver oil. Why?! Clothes got drenched last night in another squall. The lightning show we get each night is impressive.

Lots of turtles out swimming today and dolphins continue to eat lunch around the same time as us. They sadly have to have tuna everyday. Today we got cheese enchiladas.

Thurs 19th May – 4th place

The race was called at the Remedios gate with us finishing in 4th place. Not our best result and with slightly different clouds it could have been 1st, but then again, 8th, so not bad overall and we continue to defend our 2nd place overall. Went for a breakfast swim with UNICEF and LMAX. The water is very salty. Great for floating but horrible in the sinuses. Now motoring to Costa Rica to refuel.

Fri 20th May – The Booby Queen

Some boobies came and scared Ruth off the bowsprit and took up residence. I was starting to train them, styling !myself as the booby queen, like Daenarys Targaryan from Game of Thrones, but with less fire and more feathers. They stayed a while and invited some friends and Kieren even stroked one. Unfortunately they disgraced themselves in the early hours of the morning by soiling the sails so they had to go. I should have started with toilet training.

Sun 22nd May – Costa Rica

Stopped in Costa Rica for fuel. We had fresh fruit and eggs and toast and beer for breakfast and used Wifi. Would have been nice to stay longer but onward to Panama.

Mon 23rd May – Lightning strikes

Boat was struck by lightning last night. We are exploring the possibility that we now all have superpowers and not just broken wind instruments.

I actually have something resembling a tan. Not sure how I feel about it. Despite knowing it’s skin damage I can’t help but like it a little. Kieren has not tanned much and is describing his colour as a white T-shirt that’s been washed a few too many times!

Full Frontal – The Pacific Rim Race, Qingdao to Seattle

Monday 21st March – Faking It

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to sea we go… Strange race start. We did a pretend show start for Qingdao and then stopped racing so we could get past most of the fishing fleet/gear and Le Mans start it properly. Weather is currently calm and we have been quite relaxed on board. Despite the cold, cold temps I managed to get sunburnt.

Some questions that have bothered my brain over the past day:

  1. Do they still start Le Mans style at the Le Mans 24 hr race (apparently yes – thanks Paul Upson!)
  2. How do you taxidermy a fish (following a fisherman offering us what looked like a dried sample)
  3. Is Whoopi Goldberg a real or stage name?

Tuesday 22nd March – Is that a sea monster?

Still bobbing along quite slowly avoiding fishing nets. some have a long stream of floats so look like a sea monster has laid its eggs and guarded them with an interconnecting acid coated string waiting to melt yachts it catches and absorb them so its young can devour us for nutrition.

It is still cold, but looking forward to potatoes for lunch.

Wednesday 23rd March – Spit or swallow

Yesterday Diarmuid found an empty condom wrapper in the engine room bilge. Upset that my engine room has been violated. >:-(

Also spent yesterday evening trying to catch a dying swallow as it flew round the accommodation. Not sure about the swallow tattoo anymore. They seem to come on board to die.

Sailing is quite pleasant atm, but will soon be a bash up the Japanese coast.

Friday 25th March – The Code 1 spinnaker gets its way 

In my reporting absence we have been sailing intimately close to Garmin. Watched them rip their Code 1 spinnaker. Felt smug. Our spinnaker saw what their spinnaker was allowed to get away with and copied. Didn’t feel so smug. Beating up the Japanese coast. I took off my sea sickness patch because I felt itchy and then threw up everything for 24 hours. 😦

Saturday 26th March 

Had some slow stuff last night where boats further south (not using the current) made gains. Not especially enjoying this trip. Feeling a bit down.

Sunday 27th March – The Easter Bunny visits

Best thing today – the Easter bunny visited and laid us some Cadburys Creme Eggs. It would have been better if we’d had an easter egg hunt round the boat, but hey.

I spent the past 24hrs helping with the round the clock spinnaker repair with Sharron. Long process, but we’re getting there. Think I have caught boat lurgy.

In sad news my Nexus has stopped playing Homeland. Also Rob fell in the sea. Fortunately on his tether but he smacked his head pretty well.

Tuesday 29th March – D-L-D lends a hand

Had a nice day mothering with Ruth yesterday. Weather was calm so we got a decent shower and watched an episode of Downton Abbey. Always hate returning to reality after watching that.

This morning we transferred our spare watermaker and filters to Let’s Go Garmin. Then the weather suddenly got very fruity and we are now sailing in an uncomfortable 40-50kts wind.

I have a cough and bad period pains but determined not to complain publicly.

Wednesday 30th March – The wrong trousers

It is still soooo far to Seattle. Going to be a long and boring and stressful 3 weeks. Highlight of the past 24 hrs was when Tony accidentally put on my drysuit. It was very tight looking (like tight trousers Thomas from work).

Pretty much everyone on the boat has the lurgy.

Tuesday 31st March – Joke of the Day

New favourite joke courtesy of Tony/The Vicar of Dibley – 2 nuns in the car are driving through Transylvania. A vampire jumps out. One nun turns to the other – “quick sister, show him your cross!” The other nun winds down the window and shouts, “F*ck Off!” Think that is a new Derry favourite along with Sally’s “Just In” joke 🙂

Another time travel today. Will soon be Marty Mcfly day. Question is – would you rather re-live 1 amazing day from your life again OR go back and change 1 day. I think the former, although I’m not sure which day I would choose.

I have added ‘ability to unicycle’ to things I would like to accomplish in life.

Friday 1st April – Feeling like a fool

Places I’d rather be today – in Sedbergh, for Nicola’s wedding x x x

For April Fool’s Day Diarmuid got the other watch running to the sail locker to get the spinnaker out. I suggested saying at watch changeover that an albagull had flown in the lazarette and was going through the bins and we were too scared to get him out. It has also been suggested that we chuck a couple of “reefing lines” down below and a) see how long people would stand there holding them or b) tell them to pull and have them attached to nothing.

We are sailing fast downwind but still in 6th place.

Saturday 2nd April 

Wind 50-60kts – bouncing along and hard to write but I will anyway. Very sad news today about Sarah Young dying after falling overboard. Awful for iChorcoal.

After hearing the news we had a long, hard watch breaking a baton and reef 3. It was windy, wet and cold. My drysuits hook got broken, my clothes are damp and I shouted at people for putting shoes in the engine room.

Sunday 3rd April

Conditions at the moment are cold and damp. Tired but occasional wave/wind increase makes sleep on the high side difficult.

Monday 4th April – Cold. So cold.

Will write again how horribly cold it is so I remember never to come back here again! Hands quickly get wet and freeze like ice blocks. There are no decent gloves. It has sporadically hailed on us. Everything on the boat is damp, even in dry bags. But we are halfway there and currently in the lead.

The albagulls here are bigger than Southern Ocean ones. If one of them flew onboard he could have my bunk, I wouldn’t argue. Apparently they mate in Hawaii. Not sure why they don’t stay there.

Monday 4th April – again!

We crossed the international dateline so are reliving Monday 4th again. Not sure if that’s great. It was cold. There’s so much condensation in the boat it’s dripping from the ceiling. It made the nav. computer keyboard wet and it went mental and crashed the computer. I have a hot water bottle to try and dry my feet. Worried it will burst/leak and make my sleeping bag wet, which is one of the only cosy, warm things I have.

Wednesday 6th April 

Was mother yesterday so got to watch an episode of Downton Abbey and sleep all night. We are due to get some horrible, wet, windy weather as some fronts come over tomorrow. I am scared and not looking forward to that. We were also allowed to send an email home because of the recent incident and I think people are freaking out (not my lot, I suspect, stoical bunch that they are!) I couldn’t think of anything clever to say, but emailed anyway.

Thursday 7th April – Cabin fever

Whizzing along to Seattle. Slightly scary but had sausage, beans and cheese for lunch so all is well. All my kit bags are mouldy and everything is cold, damp or cold and damp. People (inc. me) People (myself included) have been quite ratty with each other this leg. It is a bit too long, cold and wet and there is not much outside except sea, sky and the odd albagull. Worried my toes will never be normal again.

Friday 8th April – Just not Comanche

That has to be one of my least favourite watches ever. Was 40kts and we still had a large sail up with the boom occasionally surfing nicely in the waves. Really overpowered. Took the sail down finally when it was light but that plus the time travel meant less sleep.

In other news Jan told Diarmuid that Rob has a teddy bear with him. The response was “that’s just not Comanche”. Jan thinks it would be if we all got one and they had matching pyjamas.

Saturday 9th April – Dirty diesel

The sun is out so the mood on board is better. I am feeling like a bit of a physical wreck. Still, should be just 1 week to go.

The diesel is grunky and has made the filter housing in the generator clogged. Really hope it makes it to Seattle.

Sunday 10th April – Spinnakers, I am onto you!

Changed my mind about spinnakers. I now agree with Diarmuid that their favourite thing to do is lie in their bag on the low side wishing they had been made into hot air balloons (ok I added that last bit!) All the self-destruction, sea swimming and, on special occasions, a bit of forestay, all goes to achieving this aim. In positive news the Code 1 we repaired is flying again. Sharron and I agree it is now past its repair warranty period.

Oh and I saw a whale tail!

Monday 11th April – Ellie gets a taste of power

Wet, windy and miserable outside. Finished ocean sprinting. Other boats are catching us fast on the scheds 😦

Spent time doing more sail repair on the Code 3 and planning the stopover (self-appointed, unelected dictator that I am – mwah ha ha ha!)

Tuesday 12th April – Breakfast Streetfighter

Not long now. We have gone stealthy. Think I have finally gone mad! At breakfast I imagined a Streetfighter style battle between a Marmite ninja in black and a jam warrior (like Ken).

Just changed clothes as couldn’t bear smell. Da Nang had a knockdown so are motor sailing due to damage. Scary stuff. Hope they’re not too shaken.

We are dreaming of seattle whilst getting drenched by squalls.

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Some Stormhoek to warm the cockles! (Photo by Ruth)

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I was gutted it didn’t say “The Pacific Rim Race”

The Shamrock – Da Nang to Qingdao

Sunday 28th Feb – sickness and puppies

Started race with a UTI (on antibiotics), stonking cold and dry mouth from my seasickness hallucination patches. Sir Robin did his best to build excitement once again with promises of bashing upwind and tales of demasting. Gulp.

On leaving day they paraded us around once more and announced that March 1st was now “Wendy Tuck Day”. The best thing about the day was that a man let me cuddle his curly-furred puppy. Really wanted to smuggle him onboard (the puppy, not the Vietnamese man!) Mikey G. Commented that I was touching someone’s dinner. Didn’t think that was very nice.

Was mother yesterday. Good menu for ease of cooking. Pot noodles and pasta and sauce.

Monday 29th Feb – civet poo

Still coughing and spluttering but antibiotics seem to be working. Just enjoyed a cup of civet poo coffee the guys won in a kayaking contest. Think I will buy some civets when I get home or maybe some ferets. That might work if I can persuade them to eat coffee beans rather than ferret mix. In 7th place atm skirting round the Chinese territorial waters.

Tuesday 1st Mar – Happy Wendy Tuck Day!

We have broken the inner forestay and 2 Yanke sheets. Oops. Now starting to get some big seas so the slamming has commenced. Going to be a loooong fortnight. Currently in 10th place. Not great.

Weds 2nd March – Ellie’s imaginary menagerie

Still in 11th place but hopefully the path we are taking pays off and we gain some places. Wind has eased and we have gone from Yankee 3 and 2 reefs and no staysail to full mainsail, yankee 1 and staysail.

Been thinking about what extra animals to get when I get home. Suggestions from my teammates have included bees,a sheep, chickens, stick insects, a donkey, a peacock or a wormery. No one suggested a regular animal. Who are these crazy people I am stick on a 70ft boat with? !;-)

Thurs 3rd Mar – my favourite lunch

Dark in my bunk so not writing much. It is windy and splashy outside but we had burritos for lunch so all is well.

Sunday 6th Mar – Ellie 0, generator 1

The theme of the past day has been ocean sprinting. So far looking good – 3 ocean sprints would indeed secure us as sprint masters.

I have also been spending silly amounts of time trying to coax the generator back to life. I have offered it chupa chups, ice pops, biscuits and love – but without success. It all started when we tacked but didn’t tack the raw water inlet (when I say “we”, I blame Dan because I was off watch asleep) and the impeller disintegrated. Now it will run for about an hour at once before it conks out. We even tried pulling seaweed out of the raw water filter. Fun, but not effective.

Our other activity has been dodging the nightly crowd of fishing boats.There was a fleet of 48 last night.

Monday 7th Mar – crawling across the scoring gate

A night and morning of fog and fishing boats and moving very slowly. On the plus side we were first through the scoring gate ahead of Let’s Go Garmin so all the frustrating hours of windseeker trimming were worth it.

It has recently become significantly colder so we have dug out gloves and hats and warm trousers.

Had soup for lunch today which reminded me of days on the mountains. In other food news last night’s ” Dig Dog Dinner”/Street dog stirfry was lovely (thanks Jan) plus 2 helpings of fruit cock (tail) meant I was stuffed.

Thurs 10th Mar – wild nights

Almost at the finish with Garmin in hot pursuit. Haven’t written in a while because things have been a bit mad with lots of sail changes, a night of wind and an impromptu mother duty. Night of wind was interesting. It blew up to 75 kts. We sat in the cockpit slightly scared singing “My Favourite Things”. It has also been bloody cold. Below deck we are our breath like the dragon bridge in Da Nang and on deck our hands become like ice blocks within 30 mins.

The yellow sea is indeed quite yellow. Actually more brown. Reminds me of a river I used to kayak on where the advice was ” if it’s brown, you will drown” :-/ I guess it’s because it’s quite shallow. We have been ploughing through water maker filters.

Engineering on this leg has generally felt like a bit of a clusterf*ck to me. We never managed to fix the generator and reverted to the engine, the engine had a low oil pressure warning, despite having,swearing we wouldn’t we ran out of water, we’ve had 2 fluid leaks, one of the galley pumps broke, the heads stopped working and the engine just bit me. Makes me question my abilities in the face of the upcoming North Pacific leg.

We continue to see quite a lot of ships and fishing fleet.

I have also bruised my bum (Derry ere!) When a big wave lifted me and slammed MD onto a jammer. Sitting down hurts.

Saturday 19th Mar – The Shamrock

About to embark on Leg 6. Conclusion of the last race was that we actually achieved “The Shamrock” – 1st in scoring gate, ocean sprint and 1st place. Elated. Let’s hope our luck continues…

Exploring the South China Sea – Airlie Beach to Da Nang

 

Weds 20th Jan – Le Mans start

So the little Derry team of 16 (minus poor Paul O who didn’t get his Vietnam visa in time) are making our way north to Asia.

A different start this time because they didn’t want us racing across the great barrier reef and causing another PR nightmare. Instead we made our way through the hydrographers passage and did a Le Mans start. As in training our Le Mans start was super and we came out in front. The boats have now split to go around a reef so we’ll see what happens.

Yesterday was a long day and I got tired and sunburnt (despite factor 50 every hr again). All our new starters are seasick but are doing well getting themselves on deck.

Thurs 21st Jan – the dream club reunites

I wrote a blog for online consumption today so won’t repeat here but the themes were:

  1. My magic Mystic Meg prediction of the broken impeller and sweaty nights in the engine room becomes a reality.
  2. Dream club is back although we are now spread over 2 watches. Today’s dream selection included my mum opening a beauty salon with no mirrors, abandoning Deio to get arrested at a hotel (see Deio we haven’t forgotten you!) and DJ Calvin Harris as my alter ego.
  3. The near loss of Sally’s twat hat
  4. Frazzling under the sun whilst enjoying a trim off against other boats

Sat 23rd Jan – feeling hot, hot, hot

It is horrifically hot. Pretty sure it is worse than leg 1. Passing through the doldrums we have had some periods of windseeker some refreshing showers and a little bit of wind. Tempted to sleep in the sail locker but concerned I might be woken by a spinnaker being dropped on my head then be forced to wool said spinnaker.

Sunday 24th Jan – still sweating!

We have switched to 4 hour day watches and 6 hr nights. Should be interesting, especially in terms of food. It is still swelteringly hot and progress is slow. At least there is progress though and for the moment we are doing OK.

Monday 25th Jan – the Camembert disaster

Woke up to the news that LMAX are speeding along whilst we have all but stopped, there is a fly infestation in my Camembert and I have to cook bacon for breakfast. Have had better starts to the day. Mother watch is almost unbearably uncomfortable in the heat.

Had a thunderstorm last night. The other watch got soaked.

Engine room got quite wet again as the hose came off the watermaker pipe.

Tues 26th Jan – Sweat, sweat, sweat

There’s no disguising the fact that I am a sweaty, sweaty, sweaty creature. Last night’s shorts are still soaked in sweat. Post mother sleep was hard due to the angle of heel (fans cannot access me and windows shut due to rain) and sweat.

On the plus side it looks like we got some scoring gate points – yay!

Need to stop picking my bug bites.

My deck shoes have given up the will to live and have become super slippy death slides. Barefoot is OK. I can move like a monkey but risk broken toes.

Weds 27th Jan – Wet, wet, wet

It has not stopped raining for 6 hrs and undulates between still and rainy and windy and rainy. Inside of foulies wet.

Crossed the equator last night.

Thurs 28th Jan – Ellie’s classy Clipper dinner party

When I am home, I am going to host a classy dinner party, clipper-style.

  • Guests will be allowed to use the toilet then place their feet (shoes on) on the furniture
  • Everyone gets their own spork (as long as there aren’t more than 8 people)
  • Guests are offered a piece of kitchen roll to wipe their dishes clean in between courses
  • I will walk around with a pot of Sudocrem telling everyone about the progress of my yachty botty whilst they are still eating
  • I will serve tepid, weak squash and call it “juice”
  • We’ll have a slops bucket and I will ask someone to empty it into the river at the end of the meal.

Friday 29th Jan – Squalls

You know it’s squally when… the rain sets off your life jacket! Last night we had squall after squall. Foulies soaked inside and out. To cheer us up further we lost ground to other boats 😦

Noticed how indecent my bikini top has become with weight I have lost. I look a right state.

An absolutely massive log floated past us. Generally don’t see much sea debris.

Sat 30th Jan – Neptune cometh

Neptune visited today to convert the stinky pollywogs to worthy shellbacks. All good fun.

Not only do I have a bad case of yachty botty but I now have a rash  on my leg.

Sunday 31st Jan

Not so much sleep again today because the generator decided to misbehave. Well, technically the battery charger for the generator, but they are related.

Feel tired but struggle to fall asleep.

Other boats are catching up fast. Will be gutted if we lose our place and a podium. Absolutely gutted. It is difficult being scheder because you can’t put boat positions out of your mind and just concentrate on racing. Will try to imagine we are in 4th or 5th place and not 1st.

Mon 1st Feb – That’s not fair!

“Uh what’s that smell?” we asked, looking suspiciously at one another, “John are we passing another one of those volcanic islands?” Turns out it was the smell of BS. Dan came up and told us the course mark had be changed and was now further north so down came the spinnaker and up went the white sails. Why this big change? Are we avoiding a storm perhaps? No, we were due to arrive too early so the course was extended because, apparently, Vietnam cannot issue visas during the Tet New Year,etc etc. The earliest we can arrive is 17th. We are not best pleased as we had expected to be in in a week. Also movement of the mark we had been heading for appears to put us at a disadvantage and the change is against the rules. So overall we are a pretty pissed  off bunch.

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Tues 2nd Feb – Expressing ourselves

The sun is shining and I had a good night’s sleep after mother watch. However this weather isn’t likely to stay. Looks like we’re in for windy, horrible, squally upwind fun. I also jumped onto my glasses and broke them.

Some relatively funny blogs came out regarding the extended race and the consequences. Diarmuid wrote a blog we didn’t expect to be published, but it was apparently.

The 17th seems so far away and I am running low on sweets.

Opened my matchbox of fun today. Messages made me a little bit homesick but the “emergency cards” cheered me up. Thanks George. Wish I’d opened it sooner for the “No Fancy Dress Costume” emergency!

Weds 3rd Feb – Feeling blue

Today is one of those days where I hate being on the boat and have a bit of cabin fever. The weather is wet and grim, we are heeled over and our lead on the other boats is decreasing. Damnit this year is supposed to bean enjoyable break from normality, why didn’t I just go diving??!!

It was lovely to get some messages from home but did make me feel homesick.

Erique the fan is being noisy.

Friday 5th Feb – A quickie today

Not writing much because I am going to try and write the comedy sketch for Clipper’s Got Talent. Update is we are sailing fast downwind but not looking forward to the inevitable beat back in strong wind and current followed by a windhole of disappointment.

My sheet is damp and I got forgotten in the morning wake up and missed pancakes 😦

Sat 6th Feb – Go Derry Go

It’s windy and drizzly and splashy and grey. But at least we are holding our position and going downwind. Other boats having been breaking things. Telemed went right inside to unwrap a spinnaker. Really now we can hold it together. Only another 1500nm or so to go. Hmm

Got to speak to a few ships on the radio, that was fun.

7th Feb – Catwoman the spinnaker

Only 10 more days to go. Aaargh!

Wrote a blog today about how the sole aim of  a spinnaker is to destroy itself and kill us all. Ours tried last night, but to no avail this time.

No one wants to go with my suggested spinnaker name of Catwoman.

Quite a lot of the time it has been too windy for a spinnaker >30 kts.

Have had a few birds around diving for fish. They are impressively manoeuvrable. They have also shat on our mainsail, which I think is a lucky omen. We certainly got a fast schedule after this.

8th Jan – Terror and serendipity

We are getting tired. Last night we tacked in 40kts + wind to get toward the waypoint. I was scared. We snapped a reefing line and Sascha got washed down the deck and knocked against the rail putting the preventer on cutting her lip badly. We have also made a hole in the Yankee 1.

In more positive serendipitous news, we sailed past our first Vietnamese oil rig and it was Bien Dong HT-HP 1! What are the chances??!!

9th Feb – Close to the edge

Close to breaking point. So hot and sweaty, my sheet smelled so bad I had to remove it, my yachty botty is rampant and super sore and I fell into the lazarette today. Sailing upwind is hard.

Diarmuid and I did some repairs on the Yankee 1 last night, it was very hot and bouncy in the sail locker.

A cargo ship got very close. Close enough that Daniel thought it would be interesting enough for a photo.

Fri 12th Feb – Scurvy dogs

You know you have been at sea too long when you hear “Jan, what are the symptoms of scurvy?”

I have condemned my sealskin socks to my stinky laundry because they smell like cat litter. I am so ashamed of myself.

Was a beautiful night last night. All the stars were out. Loads of squid fishing boats lighting up points on the horizon. Ruth said when one was up close it was to bright to look at.

We are currently sailing along the edge of an area called “dangerous grounds” which is full of reefs of unknown size and shipwrecks.

Passed Mission Performance last night heading in the other direction. Tried hailing them on the radio but we were ignored.

We all enjoyed Olivier’s blog last night ranting about his crew.

Sat 13th Feb – Submarines

Spent ages last night tacking to the last waypoint but we are now heading north, hopefully putting some miles between us and the boats behind. Spent the morning rerunning guard rails. Winds are light.

In honour of John Carroll’s supposed submarine sighting,Dan told his submarine joke at the lunchtime meeting. Ruth corrected him by saying that “seaman” was not the correct word but I would agree that the joke doesn’t work so well as “what’s long, hard and full of submariners!”

Sat 14th Feb – So close

We finally have a finish line declared. Fingers crossed AL goes well for the next 125 miles. Light wind so currently flying the windseeker. Can’t wait to get to Da Nang so I can do some laundry.

Sunday 15th Feb – Winners!

We have done it! We are winners! Yay! No boat quitemade it to the finish by the cut off time. The finish was a virtual mark in the middle of the sea anyway so it was overall a bit of an anticlimax.

We are now motoring to Da Nang trying to clean as much as possible so today I emptied and scrubbed the sail locker and took apart the Xbox. Seems weird that this race is about to be over.

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You find the Fun and Snap, the Job’s a Game! Leg 4, Race 6 – Hobart to Airlie Beach

3rd Jan 2016 – A busy start

Quick one today because we just did a sail change which extended our watch. We had a good start to the race (1st past the mark), but somehow our upwind performance isn’t great and at the moment we are in 6th. Hopefully our choice of route pays off and we get some scoring gate points.

Trying to think of nice things whilst sitting on the rail like wedding plans but thoughts keep getting interrupted by memories of a disturbing episode of Game of Thrones I watched before we left.

4th Jan 2016 – In every job that must be done…

We have a scoring gate point. However I think this could have come at a massive cost since we are now lying 11th and seemingly not catching up fast. This combined with a dwindling supply of chocolate and biscuits is a source of great stress for me.

Rob is trying to instill in us a Mary Poppins attitude to our onboard tasks by repeatedly saying “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun, you find the fun and SNAP, the job’s a game!” This was not well received by Jan and Sally as they cleaned the bilges. I wish, like the film, I could snap my fingers and the bilges emptied and the heads scrubbed themselves clean. Or, like in Disney films, some albagulls would fly in and do my chores for me.

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5th Jan 2016 – Wet pants, again.

Sometimes I hate the sea. To get to my bunk you currently have to run past a sporadically flowing torrent of water from the deck which works its way over the storm board and past the curtain. As such I have wet pants again 😡 No point in changing though as new pants would get wet too.

We are still at the back but sailing fast so at least some of the pain is worth it. Scheding has been a pain because a lot of the boats have the wrong time in their position reports so there is some initial jubilation, followed by disappointment as we realise the information is out of date.

6th Jan 2016 – A zephyr of wind

Had some good wind yesterday putting us in 1st place. But now the wind has died and I have just seen the windseeker making its way  up. Fingers crossed the other boats have the same.

Was a busy watch. Started off with a mini flood in the engine room from a loose watermaker pipe. We then changed headsails twice. Also thought we saw a waterspout, it was more likely a long, strange cloud.

7th Jan 2016 – Things that go bump in the night, part II

Last night is one I would rather forget. We broached and managed to rip the code 2 spinnaker. There was shouting and the boom was banging into the water and there was wind and rain and I fell and banged my knee on the jammers. All in all pretty scary stuff.

We were all quite nervous about flying the Code 1 today, but it was ok this morning. We are back to the heat, sweating like we are in a sauna when we’re down below and burning in the sun on deck.

In race news it looks like Mission will beat us in the ocean sprint because they avoided the windhole after their diversion to help another boat. Gutted! We are still in 1st place. Hopefully we won’t f*ck it up!

8th Jan 2016 – Fryday makes everything ok

Hot and sunny weather with decent spinnaker flying plus “fry-day” means high spirits on board. Would be better if we were still ahead but, hey ho, at least we are in the lead pack.

In bad news I can’t get the skanky mould taste off my water bottle.

9th Jan 2016 – My internal playlist

Not far to go now and still a lot to lose (note the cynic in me not acknowledging the potential to gain). Weather is swelteringly hot and I am burnt despite multiple applications of sun cream. Sea has been some beautiful shades of blue and turquoise. Looks like it would be full of nice dive sites.

As a treat I thought I would share with you my playlist of songs I sing when it is too windy to talk, etc. Not sure of the official names of many, but hopefully you can guess. I did not particularly choose anything to sing, it just seems to be my mind’s default. I am not sure what that says about me

  1. Songs from musicals – includes classics from Sound of Music (obviously), Mary Poppins, Oliver, Joseph, Les Miserables, Wicked.  
  2. Campfire/coach trip classics – includes She sat on a hammock, Oh you’ll never go to heaven in a baked bean tin, Doe a Beer, the quartermaster’s stores, Little Bunny Foo Foo, Mercedes Benz
  3. Folky Classics – Includes All around my hat, Meet on the ledge, Saucy Sailor, Matty Groves
  4. Our boat song – Wake me Up