Race 3 - Day 13
Crew Diary - Race 3 Day 13: Cape Town to Fremantle
13 November

Jon Freeman
Jon Freeman
Team Hotelplanner.com
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I am the ghost of David Hartshorn's thumb. (*)

When Dave became a member of the very small band of people who have seen the stern of a Clipper 70 moving away from them mid-ocean, he physically left the boat. Each skipper leaves a part of their soul with their command however and although he was gone, I remained there, hovering disincorporated; a revenant digit.

No-one can see me, but I am omniscient and all-seeing. When Jon Freeman knows he needs to get out of his bunk, but snuggles down for a few extra minutes of warmth, I slowly turn to point at the floor. This downward motion is unseen, but Jon is suddenly uneasy; although he knows no-one will really notice, he also knows it is the wrong thing to do. Reluctantly, he wriggles out of his sleeping bag and starts the complex dance of putting on layer after layer of wet and cold weather gear.

Similarly, when Jemma and Jenny are in their eighteenth hour of sail repair, I hover there bobbing upwards and leaving them with a small but certain feeling that they are doing the right thing. As Dan joined and then left the boat, I was joined in my observances by the ghost of Dan's glasses, which peer constantly at the staysail and yankee telltales. The crew start to feel an uneasy feeling if they do not join me in looking at them often enough. Andy, too, has his distinct skipper's patronas in the figure of spectral scrambled eggs on toast, reminding the crew to feed their skipper both food and information.

I am now on a different boat. As I see the way that the HotelPlanner.com crew look after the HotPJ (**) arrivals and the new team dynamic emerges, I bob upwards in the universal symbol of approval (***). Conall looks up from adding a further helping of condiments to his meal and smiles a little wearily. When Jon Freeman moves boat again later in the race, the number of ghostly followers will be up to four as Conall's haunted sauce bottle joins the others.

Of course, ships have souls too and as dusk drops in the Southern Ocean and the terns and albatrosses wheel and then skim the wave tops, I glimpse a flicker of sail in the twilight. Though poor wrecked Polly lies on the African Cape, she still cuts the trackless seas as a ghost ship, forever making the circumnavigation she was made for.

(*) Clearly, Dave's thumb is alive, well, attached to him and doing rather well, thank you. As such, no ghost, but please allow me a little artistic license.

(**) Almost all the Greenings transfers had names that begin with J. The only one that didn't (Paul) was rechristened Jaws to suit. That makes us the HotPJs.

(***) It is at this point that we should be grateful Dave didn't injure his middle finger.