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Race 2 - Day 8

Invest Africa - Andrew Harrison

16 SEP 2013 - Race 2

I want to tell you about the colours of the sea – out here, where most people never see it. Sometimes it is grey – but never one grey, dancing with inflections of light. Sometimes it is purple, a kind of plum deep, pewter surface. Sometimes it is black – very often it is black – and not only at night. Oh, and of course it is blue – blue blue blue, but this is not that surprising. I am most surprised by the purples – where did they come from? Wave after wave – moving, never still, tipping into new liveliness. As I am learning about the spinnaker – poised on the edge of collapse, it finds its power.

Although I suppose the piece of sea I am seeing will get to you on the sea shore one day. How many times will it change colours in that time?

With the same anticipation I have of discovering a new shade of blue purple or blue as I go up on deck for my watch I look forward to the different colours of me and of my crew members that are slowly being uncovered every day.... new depths of patience and grace, a rigid tenacity and determination to push the competitor in me further each day, a brand new confidence as we solve problems that we unseasoned novice sailors could never have anticipated being faced with as part of this great challenge.

I want to share with you something about the scale of it – the scale of this sea, lively and indifferent, stretching in all directions; we are travelling over its depth, yet on its surface. I sit next to my crew mates – and we are mesmerised by it – in a kind of trance at the scale, the depth of it. It is so very different to land. This, I am only just beginning to appreciate; its muscular difference. Last night I felt like we were riding on the back of an enormous animal – our boat in an amongst its fur.

What do you dream about when at sea? I find I only know that I have been asleep for sure when I remember I have had a dream. Below decks, the boat has a noisy pulse to it – all of the deck gear echoes through the hull – you can interpret what is happening on the deck by the groans and strains of the equipment, the water lapping and scraping and gurgling past, a few millimetres from your ear, through the hull. Sound is amplified. I find myself dreaming about cities – with a feeling that I really love them; much as I dream about the sea when on land. With the same sort of feeling.

We are in the middle of this – the middle of this race. The middle is the tough bit, says Rich. It is easy to race at the beginning and at the end – the middle is hard. Like so many middles. And this says something about the nature of 'challenge' – keeping going' edging forward, seeing something emerge...the word 'challenge' is in the idiom of Clipper Race. My challenge; the challenge; having a challenge; being 'had' by a challenge. Something compulsive going on – something self-defining in making the challenge 'explicit' , putting it out there. I am saying something about myself in the challenges I am prepared to make visible. At the moment I am learning to 'hold course whilst maintaining speed'; I find it easy to go fast in the wrong direction.

Things we talk about when we are on watch – some I cannot mention; some I can – films, families, the 'state of things', how the spinnaker looks, food we are going to eat, food we are eating, what we will do next, what we expect...I keep on being surprised by the things people come up with – at noon handover today, Craig came up with the weekly 'Craig awards' – first, second and third prizes in comedy moments and 'surprising things to happen at sea', Sylvia was rather surprised to get first place in one rather embarrassing category. I had not expected that; surprising like a wind shift. You can only go where the wind allows; you can only go where everyone else is going. This challenge exemplifies the beauty of the whole journey, the often unseen and unappreciated middle without which the beginning and end are a hollow shell. Oh, and another thing – we have moved the bin and re-arranged the re-cycling: radical steps in our community on board. Good moves.

Andy H and Sylvia C