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…

thats all folks.gif

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.


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!)


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