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.


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their position reports so there is some initial jubilation, followed by disappointment as we realise the information is out of date.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

This is Derry-Londonderry-Doire, Derry-Londonderry-Doire, Derry-Londonderry-Doire… Sydney to Hobart Race

Monday 28th Dec – Bass Strait, Sydney-Hobart Race

The start of the Sydney Hobart race is pretty much how you would imagine. Over a hundred fast and expensive boats all trying to tack into each other. General carnage, lots of shouting by teams in matching outfits, a few birds flipped. Lost track of how many times we tacked.

Had some fruity weather as a front came over. That was mad – spinnaker came down (in 1 piece woohoo!), staysail went up and reef went in the mainsail. It was dark and wet and windy and I ended up completely tangled in the ropes in the cockpit. The front itself was a pretty spectacular thing in terms of cloudage.

Also been doing radio scheds for this race which is the archaic way in which we report our position. We all have to tune into the HF radio several times a day, say our position and write down the position of every one of the other hundred boats in the race. Sometimes there are radio problems so the whole process can take an hour. Although the aforementioned weather front means there aren’t quite so many boats in the race due to damage.  I believe there have been 39 retirements including Perpetual Loyal, Blackjack and Wild Oats. Still, sitting in the nav station as we bounce on the waves triggered my sea sickness. Threw up everything for about 24 hours. Sandwich and crisps was horrible to bring up.

At the moment we are in the bass strait in very little wind. Hoping our tactics will pay off.

Tuesday 29th Dec – Frustration

Currently exiting the Bass Strait flying a spinnaker upwind (as you do?!) Had a few frustrating hours last night with very little wind thinking we might make the new year party.

Wednesday 30th Dec – This is the race that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend…

3-4 days they said. Ha ha. We were doing ok, then we messed up during a windshift and we are back in 8th. Unlikely to regain. Also I have broken my trousers so they are now stuck as shorts. Tired and struggling to control my inner chimp.

Racing ruins what should be a lovely sail round a gorgeous coastline. 😡

On the plus side we saw a shark – he got his mouth out the water and everything. Plus dolphins. I also saw some secret whales. Secret because everyone was so busy at the time I thought it best not to distract them.

Still giggling at the boat name “Willyama”. Pronounced “Willy Armour”. Ruth (the other radio scheder) and I have become quite fond of JBW. Although it is a boat name we like to think of it rather as the man from the radio scheds. Hopefully he will be in Hobart.

1st Jan 2016

So the race did end. We got in the evening of the 30th after a nice spinnaker sail up the river. Wendo and team Da Nang won. I think, although we are all jealous, all the crews are genuinely chuffed for them.

The reception as we motored into the marina in Hobart was incredible. Hundreds of people were cheering us like family. So, for the second time, I found a tear in my eye as we approached the Tasmanian shore.

Since then we have stuffed ourselves with food at the Taste of Tasmania food festival, partied til the early hours for New Year and drunk Moet on the yacht (Mow-et on the yat-chet). This is because we are a very classy bunch. My New Year’s Resolution was to become a classy person. This ended by about 9am the next day as we dashed to the (very proper, blazer affair) prize giving and I realised I had no pants on under my shorts (which I had slept in).

The Sydney Hobart prize giving is something that needs to be seen to be believed. They hand out more prizes than there are yachts in the race, although most obviously go to the same boat and they are a weird and wonderful array of shapes and sizes (although most are massive). I am surprised there are any trees left in Tasmania. We also saw JBW from the radio scheds. Then they played a dramatic video, which was great, except for the lack of D-L-D.


Ellie, Ruth and JBW (photo by Ruth)

Back to sea tomorrow. We’re hoping for some good luck.