Race 13 - Day 6
Crew Diary - Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool
27 July

Nell Wyatt
Nell Wyatt
Team Garmin
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Leg 8, Race 13, Day 6 – Nell Wyatt.

11 months ago we set off from Liverpool with the goal of racing around the world. During that time I have never really allowed myself to dream that I would achieve this goal – somehow I felt that it would “jinx” things and I would get injured or for another reason have to stop racing and leave Garmin before the race was over.

During the last few weeks after we left New York, and crossed the Atlantic for the second time and then approached Londonderry and now Liverpool I have permitted myself the occasional fleeting thought about the finish of the race and how I would feel and now that time has come.

6 hours ago we completed Race 13 and I can finally say that I have Circumnavigated the World! I celebrated the occasion with a rather stale bagel (without its covering of sesame seeds because they had fallen off into the bag) and runny honey!!! Surprisingly delicious and a memorable end to a very tense last race where we trimmed and tweaked and adjusted and agonised trying to get every last millisecond of speed out of our yacht to secure a good result.

The year has been an extraordinary cacophony of emotions; much laughter and fun with a motley group of strangers of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds many of whom have become great friends. Together we have confronted nature at her most powerful sailing through huge storms with tumultuous breaking waves all around. We have had our senses bombarded by the scream of the wind, rain drops like needles driving into our cheeks and salt water cascading down our necks when a wave breaks over the deck. We have shivered with cold despite multiple layers of clothing only warming up when cocooned in the safe haven of our waterproof fleece lined sleeping bags. We have sweltered in the tropics when we have attempted to sleep in the airless cocoon of our 70 foot world and been unable to drink enough to replace the sweat lost. I can confirm that both ladies and gentlemen can glow and sweat simultaneously!

There have been times when we have felt more tired than we imagined we could ever be but somehow we were able to support each other to find enough strength (both emotional and physical) to get back on deck for the next watch, sail change or evolution. We have become a very strong and supportive crew and if one person is struggling for whatever reason there is always someone who with a word, a gesture or a hug will be there for them and get them through that tough time giving them the will to continue.

There have been times during the year that an individual has been close to giving up the race and go home – sometimes because they are so exhausted or hurting or missing family and friends or just finding the physical and/or emotional challenge more than they anticipated. It is during those moments we have dug deep as a crew and supported each other and that is one of the things I will treasure about this year we have spent together.

We have been coached and guided by GT our skipper who has taught us so much. He has coached, cajoled and at times berated us when needed. He has kept us safe and helped me achieve my dreams and for that I am very grateful.

I hoped that this race would give me the opportunity to develop my skills as a sailor and become a better helm and trimmer of sails and more confident in my abilities to sail. The race has certainly empowered me and I feel that I have achieved these goals. I hoped that I would encounter storms and enormous waves and I have; I hoped that I would be pushed to my limits and I certainly have been. I didn't really know wind holes the size of continents existed but I can confirm that they do and that you do eventually find the wind again even though you think you will drift backwards for ever.....

It is amazing how quickly the bad times fade – the times when you are woken from a two hour sleep to get dressed in wet oilskins and go up on deck on a cold dark night. The times when you are aching from top to toe and cannot sleep but you know that you need to get some rest ready for your next watch. The times that you can barely walk from one end of the boat to the other because it is on an extreme angle with such a violent motion across the waves. The times that your crew mates get injured and you wonder if there is anything you could have done to help prevent the injury happening....

These bad times are more than outweighed by the amazing times. I have witnessed the enormity of an ocean, seen the sky lit by millions of stars and a sliver of moon; I have witnessed phosphorescence cascading onto the deck when a wave breaks over our bow. We have seen dolphins leaping and jumping with exuberance and whales breaching with grace and power. I have seen albatrosses skimming the crest of a wave just millimetres from the tip of their wing; I have seen flying fish in elaborate formations meandering over the waves.

So why did I want to circumnavigate? There are a million and one reasons some of which are hard to articulate. I am extremely lucky to have a wonderful family and friends and have also had a very fulfilling career which I love but I felt that there was something missing. I really wanted to feel I have achieved something for myself that I can remember when I am old and crumbly and sitting in my rocking chair.... I do feel that by completing this Race and our circumnavigation against all odds that nature can throw at us that that goal has been achieved and for that I am very grateful.

It has been an incredible year and I am so very glad that I decided to participate in this Race and that somehow or other my ageing body has held up to the challenge. I have loved (almost) every minute and never wished more than fleetingly that the race would be over and I could get off the yacht at the next stop. I feel extremely privileged and proud to be able to be part of the Garmin Crew and even more proud that I have completed my Round the World goal as a Circumnavigator. I could not have done it without our Skipper, our Crew and without all the support from my family, friends and my Partners at work who allowed me to have this “Sabbatical year” to follow my dream despite the huge pressure it put on them and the Practice while I was away. I am very grateful to them for their generosity of spirit and for realising how much it meant to me to take part in this Race.

A 92 year old patient of mine said to me the week before I left work to embark on this race: - “Have a nice cruise Dear”. I can truly say that this year has been the adventure of my lifetime that I hoped it would be and as “Cruises” go it has been great and very memorable even if the “Cruise ship” Garmin didn't have quite as many luxuries as my patient fondly imagined I would be indulging in! I feel that I am very lucky to have had this opportunity and will never forget it.

Thank you to everyone who has made it possible.