Race 3 - Day 11
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Crew Diary - Race 3 Day 11: Cape Town to Fremantle
We Shall Remember Them
Today we remember and honour veterans of military service, on Remembrance Day or Veterans' Day. It is sobering to think of all the men and women who sailed away and returned forever changed by their experiences, or who never returned to their home ports.
This remote and challenging Southern Ocean crossing reminds us of our vulnerability every day. On our small boat, we are completely dependent on each other – this boat cannot be sailed by one person. Only with our collective skill, trust, and confidence in each other can we survive.
I've spent nearly four months on the boat since mid-July, including training, and I've sailed from Gosport to Liverpool to Uruguay to Cape Town and beyond. My partner Tom Reese (Clipper 15-16, Team Garmin Legs 3 & 4) said that the Clipper Race was the hardest thing he had ever done; the same is true for me, particularly on this leg. Day after day we get up and go on deck, whether we want to or not, no matter whether we are tired, aching, or just want to take a little break. The simplest tasks, such as getting dressed or brushing one's teeth, all take much longer than usual when the boat is tilted up at an angle and slamming up and down. Nothing is easy or quick to do. Dark, cold, wet nights are difficult. At these times, the smallest of graces and comforts mean a lot. Last night, sitting up on the high side with the wind howling in the rigging, looking down at the dark water rushing by below our feet, I especially appreciated singing with Rick Werkheiser, who actually knows all the verses to the Stan Rogers song “The Last of Barrett's Privateers”.
In these months, I have come to rely on our crew members more than I have ever before relied on other people. During the difficult past week of beating upwind, I've realized how much we have come to trust each other and our skipper Rob. I'm extremely grateful for Rob's conservative and careful sail choices, and his valuing our safety and stewardship of our equipment over simply going faster.
I have also surprised myself by discovering that I am capable of more than I expected. On dark nights when I go back and take the helm, driving the boat in winds of 30 knots and higher, I am astonished – is this really me? Where did the new Alex come from? And by the time I return to my own home next year, who will I be?