As a novice sailor, I arrived in Rio to join my crew on Invest Africa for Leg 2, asking myself 'What am I doing here?'.
It is a question I have asked myself at the start of every training course. So how is it going so far? Waiting for the boat to arrive in Rio was tense and full of emotion but it was great to see the crew still in high spirits after a hard run south especially in the knowledge that we only had 48 hours to turn the boat around. The joining leggers had bonded during the wait and completed some victualling, clearing out the local supermarket of pasta, rice and biscuits and storing it in our hotel.
Race start was exciting. The parade of sail and then the jostling for position over the start line. A run round Sugarloaf, past Copacabana and Ipanema and then set course for Cape Town. However, nothing in training prepared me for the following 4 days. The going was hard, reefs in and out and changing head sails, before settling into a routine with the kite flying.
I am through the seasickness (boot not required!) and have rotated through engineer, nav and mother watch duties. The mothers have been creative with the fresh food but the highlight for me – Craig’s Yorkshire Pudding! I have also discovered my preferred role on board – by the shrouds, under the Invest Africa kite on trim duty. Trimming a sail is an art form in itself and one that I have not yet mastered. However, there is already a wealth of knowledge on board, especially on Thunder watch, despite there having been only one leg, and Rich is a excellent teacher so by Cape Town I would like to think that my trimming will not be too shabby.
Standing at the shrouds is also a chance for some me time, something that is in short supply on a 70ft boat with 20 other crew. It is also a chance to watch mother nature in action in the form of the South Atlantic. A 360 degree turn will show you nothing but dark, slate grey ocean topped with white horses and beautiful aquamarine surf. The weather has been changeable, one day low cloud and rain and another blue sky and sunshine.
We have not seen another vessel since day one from Rio and it should be lonely, but it isn't, we have albatross swooping alongside keeping us company. There is also a feeling that there is a power at work and one that you can do nothing about. You can only go with it and hope that you do nothing to anger it, thereby making our journey to Cape Town that much smoother.
So, it is now sailing day 8 and Cape Town draws ever nearer. I am enjoying the sailing, something I did not think would happen and I have an answer to my question. What am I doing here? - Living!
Day 8 Hurrah! Let's hope Cape Town is ready for Invest Africa cos were certainly ready for Cape Town and spend most nights on watch dreaming of the crew party and planning our shark dives, wine tours, spa days, dinners at the Savoy Cabbage....you name it. Cape Town is starting to take on mythical proportions but having lived and worked in South Africa for the last 8 years, I know that it will not only meet, but greatly exceed our expectations.
While it was terribly heart breaking to say goodbye to the crew members who left in Rio, what an absolute pleasure it was to meet the crew members waiting to join in Rio, they got stuck into everything from making sure we had enough wine, beers, shots and chips on arrival just before midnight on the 9th to doing over 80 per cent of the victualling before we even got to Rio.
They made the short stop not just bearable but pleasant. This leg I will be doing my blogging, mothering, engineering, cleaning and navigation duties with the lovely Ms Jobbins our social secretary and mistress of the shrouds and I am thoroughly enjoying her dry wit and awesome sense of humour.
The common theme running through the last few blogs was the Doldrums. Here's a new “D” to describe Leg 2 of this awesome adventure we are privileged to be a part of.......DELIGHTFUL! We took a more southerly course that the rest of the fleet on leaving Rio and enjoyed great sailing in the Southern Atlantic with favourable seas, chilly but fairly dry weather and after a few days of heading south we were able to get the heavy weight kite with Helmsman extraordinnaire Ed Collison hitting 26 knots.
What a giddy feeling it was to get over my fear of helming in high seas in the lashing rain... I did manage to soak the skipper but in true Rich fashion his cigarette survived the double soaking.......the challenge now is to douse his cigarette without getting him soaked, wouldn't that be something.
At Quarter to 1200 UTC today we said au revoir to the Southern Atlantic. Hard to believe that we are now in the 'roaring forties' ….how many Kenyan girls can say they've sailed the Southern Ocean?