Bunk Climbing, Beating and Broken Crew – Leg 4, Race 4

Wednesday 2nd Dec – Dan channels his inner Gandalf

Here we go again. Very different start to the last 2 legs. Beautiful sunshine and relatively light (10-15 kt) winds. Start was exciting with all the boats trying to squeeze round the course and Dan and Diarmuid shouting at them – think Gandalf style “You shall not pass!” and you get the jist! I enjoyed this, maybe there is a dinghy sailor in me after all!

New leggers are quickly getting into it. I know a few were nervous we were some kind of crack team. Ha ha! We have indeed learnt a lot along the way so far but we are very much humans and still make plenty of mistakes.

Waving goodbye to the last remaining team from leg 3 was hard. It is almost always sad when leggers go because we become very close, but it is great to have new faces on board and it brings a new energy to the boat. From a personal perspective I feel I have to step up a bit to meet their expectations.

Sea sickness hallucination patches seem to be working.

Thurs 3rd Dec – Climbing practice

Bit more angle now but still not too scary. Think I have found the worst bunk on board (opposite engine room door). Getting in and out is an ordeal. Definitely requires bouldering skills. It is going to be horrific when wet.

We are currently in 5th (I think) although all the boats are very close. The boat is spotless and Dan is saying it is too clean now.

Saw some nice dolphins.

Friday 4th Dec – More climbing and sexy pictures

So far we don’t seem to be doing to well in this race, which is a bit depressing (in 6th/7th atm). Never mind, at least the sun is out and I haven’t been seasick yet. Patch came off today.

My bunk is temporarily on the low side reducing its grade to a 5b. I have decided to grade the bunks. When it is high side it is a 6a+. My shoulders and arms ache from climbing in and out of it. Sascha fell out of her bunk.

Today we discussed the sexy illustrations on board namely the “Storm Hooker” (was she born a woman?) and the advent calendar reindeers with the “come to bed eyes”.

Sunday 6th Dec – Channelling the spirit of mountaineers

This is really trying to contest to be my least favourite leg. The past 24 hrs have been upwind beating. Lots of discomfort for very little progress. My bunk is dangerous to get in and out of.  I have taken to channelling the spirit of famous mountaineers to help me. Today it is Uli Steck, yesterday was Chris Bonnington and the day before was Reinhold Messner. Or maybe these chaps…

Wall-Climbing Mountain Goats

The other bad thing is that we are back markers (currently racing Unicef), which is a source of frustration because it isn’t clear where it went wrong. I also have a cough and sore throat and my back is very painful making it difficult for me to move around. Oh and it’s cold and wet. Why am I here?!

Food this leg has been very good. Just ate burritos for lunch plus I found my headphones so I can watch some Game of Thrones. I  guess it is not all bad.

Monday 7th Dec – Losing our inhibitions

Still beating our way to Tasmania as a back marker. Spending a lot of time putting in reefs and shaking them out.

We are really getting basic on this boat. Rob stripped naked without any shame. Plus we all know when we are having a poo because we opt to use the forward head for the plumbing orientation.

Tuesday 8th Dec – Clean teeth and extreme hot chocolate

Still heading towards Tasmania but now we are flying a spinnaker rather than hideously beating. Trimmed for an hour, trying to overcome my spinnaker fear after horrible leg 3 experience.

My 30% efficiency teeth cleaning regime was called into question today. Not everyone believes that cleaning my teeth before each watch will give me a 30% performance improvement but Jan told me that is what they found out in the Volvo race and I have chosen to believe this is true so it has been part of my routine since race start.

Today we also tried pouring hot chocolate from a thermos on a boat bouncing around at 45degrees. It was difficult.

Wednesday 9th Dec – Mike takes on a massive wave

We had a good fast 24hrs sailing yesterday and went up to 5th place. Then poor Mike got smashed by one of the big waves and it seems he has broken some ribs as well as cutting his head. We have now taken a lot of sail down and are heading to Hobart to drop him off. Mike has, unsurprisingly, been super brave and tough, making jokes and only grimacing as the boat continues to roll over the big waves.

Thursday 10th Dec – First boat to Hobart

Just dropped Mike off in Hobart. I won’t lie when I say a few of us had a tear in our eye or were trying to hide it. It was like a part of us was left behind somehow. Fingers crossed he will be back with us shortly. Clipper’s press release caused a few giggles.  Mike not impressed they repeatedly mention his age and we like the fact that he was hit by the “first breaking wave” over the boat. Yeah, first in the last 5 minutes!

Also, frustratingly, we get no redress so time to motor to Hobart, drop Mike off and come out all counts. Thanks Clipper. Our aim now is not to come last.

In other news someone has blocked the aft heads so we now have 1 head with no sink and 1 with no loo. I haven’t managed to find the blockage yet.

mr hanky

In positive news the Tasmanian coastline is very beautiful. We also saw an Orca yesterday and a large pod of dolphins today.

Friday 11th Dec – The toilet is free!

Dan decided to clear the aft heads whilst we were eating breakfast (nice).  Turns out it was a build up of calcified wee deposits rather than a solid object so my vigilant application of vinegar in port and strict instruction about 20 flushes minimum have not had the desired effect.

It is quite windy and we haven’t even reached the bass strait yet. At least the sun is out so it looks less like the sea wants to kill us. Overall leg 4 has been hard so far – the sea is rough (we are back in the Southern Ocean after all), the wind high, the temperature cold and we have less muscle power than before as leg 4 does not attract the “Southern Ocean crowd” like leg 3.

Currently in 9th place. Not bad given our diversion.

Saturday 12th Dec – The horrible horrible Bass Strait

Deio has taken his shirt off. He is looking more trim…Now he has stopped watching me write my diary and gone to bed I can write about the bass strait. What a truly mad and ridiculous place! Windy, splashy, scary. We hit 45kts and 10 miles away Da Nang were in a wind hole and had to motor away from a waterspout. We have now escaped its clutches and are slowly heading up the coast of east Australia with the spinnaker up.

Sad to report that my plans for a dirty session with a Mars bar and 1/2 a tin of evaporated milk were foiled by Paul who chucked away the evaporated milk 😦

Sunday 13th Dec – Bed hopping (not the fun kind)

Almost there but not quite as beating upwind. Won’t write much as heeled over and not much room in bunk. I have also agreed to bunk switch on each tack (of which there are many, about 1 per hour).

Looking forward to my koala cuddles. I hope koalas don’t have coarse fur.

Monday 14th Dec

Motoring to Sydney now after getting stuck in a wind hole. 10th place, which is a bit gutting but looking forward to seeing Sydney.


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