I'm not a sailor, yet here I am nine days into Leg 3, almost halfway from Cape Town to Fremantle. I successfully completed my training in June, and I now understand that it only gave me a small insight into what life would be like living on a racing yacht for an extended period of time. Its funny that as I sit here writing this blog, it feels like I’ve been here for longer, probably due to the watch system, as we go to sleep and wake up two to three times per day. But also, because I am surrounded by people whom either I barely knew or never met, before the race started, but it already feels like one big happy family.
The excitement we all felt at Race Start and over the first few hours parading across the bay in Cape Town, disappeared very quickly as we encountered a few big rollers and seasickness became an epidemic across the crew. My first two days of duty where with Harpo, being the Mothers and confined to the galley to prepare all meals for the day and keep the kitchen spick and span. The galley is the worst place to be for these types of waves, so a whiter shade of Jim and I hung over the galley worktops while soldiering on with the meal preparations. Every few minutes we would make a quick exit from the galley, grabbing a bucket and having a very noisy barf at the top of the ghetto (sleeping area). Meanwhile, the crew are coming down for their meals, although not everybody could manage food, as several crew members choose a bucket over a meal and a harmony of barfing can now be heard across the boat. Several hours in and every available bucket is being used and I'm now a very unhealthy looking shade of green, with no available buckets I resort to sharing a bucket with my Mother buddy, how romantic this boat life can be.
Did I mention that all of the above is happening while the boat is at a full heel! Just trying to move around the boat is a challenge on it’s on, never mind trying to cook, do dishes or try to make a bucket run. I had a very surreal moment as several crew members where happily enjoying their meal while surrounded by several other very active bucket using crew. It’s amazing how quickly we can adapt, especially when you have no choice as there is no escaping boat life.
A few days in and everyone has recovered and is settling in nicely to our new routine. As we move around each other, I can’t help but hear the music of Swan Lake, (daa da, da da daa. da da, da da) as we gracefully pass each other while holding onto the handrails around the boat. But, that doesn’t last long as the tune in my head switches to War of The Worlds, (dum dum dummmmmm, da da daa, da da daa) as we crash into each other or the boat, slip, slide and fall, with absolutely no grace at all. I’m already very aware of the growing number of bruises across my body.
And that's just moving around. Using the toilet is something else, hahahahahahahahah, its quite funny in the beginning, as you need one hand for balance and try to use the other hand to undress, wipe, and wash! It ain't easy, that's for sure, so it’s not a surprise that when fully kitted out in your gear, a toilet run can take half an hour. Funny how it’s not funny any-more when the boat hits a big wave at full tilt and tilts some of the used toilet water onto the floor, and I wish I had invested in a pair of crocs, as advised by previous leggers. I didn't get it then, but I sure do now.
Then there is bed … I was quite pleased to learn I had the privacy provided from a top bunk, as there is a lot of passing traffic while you are sleeping, because the other watch still have their jobs to do. However, with the heel and tac, we are on I’ve had to climb up the wall and across the ceiling to get in and out of bed, never mind the fear of falling out at this angle. And as I’m sleeping just below the working area of the deck, (noisy, but that's OK, I'm too tired, so sleep comes quickly), it's the leaks that get me, especially the one that is right in line with my face!
So I’m tired, wet, cold, constantly hungry, scared of everything, yet at the same time, I feel very safe, as I trust the boat, my Skipper, the AQP, my crew, and surprisingly myself! I know my limits so I’m not afraid to ask questions, or for help, and it comes plentiful. And I am getting the experience of a lifetime, (currently being dripped on and thrown in the galley as I'm writing this). Would I want to be anywhere else right now … that's a no!