Had I have written this at the beginning of my last watch I could probably only been able to tell you about the team building exercise that our skipper has had us all doing earlier today. Walking over the foredeck in bare feet is the equivalent of walking over hot coals. Similar to what they sometimes have chief executives do, on weird team building sessions that they go on. Then no doubt indulge in large amounts of alcohol to bond with each other further. However we are not chief executives at all. While we are on this boat, we are all sailors. Sometimes Pirate sailors. Members of the Invest Africa crew.
Divided in to two watches known as Thunder and Lightening. And from that we are ten individuals. But what we all do share is that we have signed up for the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race. And in my mind we would have to be fools to not grasp the opportunity to get as much from it as we can. For some of the crew it may be the only time in their lives that they get the chance to do something truly remarkable and leave something ingrained in their memory that they can recall until there is no memory left.
My earlier watch will go down in my memory for various reasons, but for one lasting thought.
It had started off in a quiet normal manner. On deck. Watch change over.
The usual banter as Thunder watch headed off to sleep. Then about an hour in we had a sail change. So it was Stay Sail down. Then medium weight spinnaker peeled up on the outside of the Yankee 2. Then down with the Yankee 2. Then we needed to launch the anti wrap net. This was all going fine, if not a little slow on the anti wrap net due to the line from the clew being missing. As we were waiting for a replacement to arrive on the foredeck, the skipper informed us of an approaching squall. They delay in the wrap net had meant that we had not yet rigged our letter box drop for the Spinnaker sail. This then needed to be done ASAP.
With the wrap net halyard handed to Joao (Brazilian) to keep hold of, I (Yorkshire) headed down to assist Natalia (Russian) to rig the letter box drop.
The squall began to intensify and haste was needed. A line caught on the foredeck only added to the need to hurry things along. So Joao pulling the line free with one hand and holding the halyard with the other freed it forward so it could be rigged. Intensity grew rapidly as the squall increased and rain began to fall. Simon (British) rigged the snatch block up to ready to feed through the line from the clew and back to the winch. But the block was top small.
Urgency now intensified with calls from the skipper. Like the Lightening crew that we are, we are prepared in the nick of time.
We then spike the tack line to the Spinnaker, maybe a little early. Oops, sorry about that, team. And bundle the spinnaker down the hatch in to the galley area. Then with only four of us left on deck, while the rest of the crew prepare to wool the spinnaker again, we set to with the new tasks.
Hoisting the staysail is first. Job done in record time. Then its to get the boat ready to tack as there is a wind shift. The boom swings over just as we ditch the preventer line. Heads down and all are safe. The skipper is at the helm controlling our next movements. Andy (British) and I control the traveller and main sheet and get the main centred. Natalia and Simon tack the Stay sail and between us we also manage to get the needed runners back and the un-needed runners forward. Then as we calm all other matter down and begin a tidyinig up operation of all lines and sheets. The rain has increased massively by this time, but it has gone unnoticed. The common goal of getting the job done and the boat remaining under our control is far more important. And by the time the end of the shift is done, a few of us have used a spare few minutes to was our hair in the free rain water prior to going off watch. We find that the team re-wooling the spinnaker have worked just as hard and prepared it ready to hoist should it be needed. Excellent work from Lightening watch. Thunder would have done just the same.
And that’s how we roll on CV25. One team. One crew. Two watches, of ten individuals. But all not in the business of problems, but in the business of solutions. No matter where we are from.