Race 12 - Day 7
Crew Diary - NEW YORK, USA TO DERRY-LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND
Memory is a funny thing. I can't remember what day of the week it is without checking the rota on the wall of the galley. It doesn't matter whether it's Sunday or Monday. It matters whether it's my turn to complete the log every hour or to empty the bilges. I can't remember the date; but it doesn't matter whether it's July yet or still June. It matters whether I am on watch from midnight to 4am or from 4am to 8am.
On the other hand, there are plenty of things I will remember long after Missi has arrived back in London. Some will be routine to the hardened core of round-the-worlders and multiple leggers but they will stick in my memory. I will remember the excitement of a Le Mans race start: 12 yachts in a line in the open ocean and the thrill of pulling ahead of those beside you. I will remember the exhilaration of helming a 70 foot racing yacht while surfing down the front of a wave at over 20 knots.
The loss of a fairly new pair of glasses, ripped from my face by a solid wave of water crashing over the helm will stick in the mind. As will helming by feel rather than by sight!
I have seen dolphins dancing around the boat, leaping from the ocean and diving under the bow, seemingly playing chicken as they dare each other to get closer to the boat. Just before writing this blog I watched two whales lazing no more than 100 metres away, blowing off steam before dipping back out of sight.
There are bits best forgotten. Hands wrinkled like you've spent too long in the bath from nothing more than rain. The feeling that you will never be dry again, whether from the rain, from the waves breaking over the boat and finding every possible route through to your skin or from the sweat of what feels like a permanent sauna below decks. Although we were warned to watch out for icebergs, the heat seems to have kept them away! But the positives so far outweigh the negatives that there will be no room to remember the bad bits in my memory.
I remember and think about my family a lot. Hello and lots of love to them - xx! In only a week of racing I am gaining a new family on board. Almost by definition the people here are extraordinary. Ordinary people tend not to do things like this. I've had conversations about being in the Navy during the Cod Wars; about working for the Qatari Royal Family; and about the feasibility of running an IT business while permanently cruising around the world.
Everyone brings their individual life experiences to strengthen the team of which we are all part. People help each other. It might be a tip from a more experienced sailor or a welcome hot chocolate in the middle of the night. But nothing quite beats finding your sleeping bag already laid out for you by your bunk mate when you just want to collapse into sleep after a long, hard watch. The people and their stories I will remember.
I know that this is not the real world. Work, clients, bills, the M6 and the other day to day stresses of the real world are out there waiting. Days and dates will become significant again. Suits will take the place of foul weather gear. Their time will come. But not today. And not tomorrow either. I'm going to try and see some more dolphins, hear some more stories or wait until tonight's watch and stare with wonder at the endless clouds of stars. All while sailing the boat as fast as possible!
I'm grateful that I have the chance to be here. The life you live is the accumulation of the memories you create by the things you do. I'm creating some great memories here. I look forward to sharing them with those I love. And I'm off to create some more.