Clipper Race 2017/18 - Charlie's Voyage - Next stop, Australia
Mother Nature can be fickle
Mother Nature toyed with us at the start of this week by giving us downwind sailing and then taking it away again, but I can happily say that we are now enjoying constant downwind sailing. This has given the crew some much needed respite and the chance to catch up on proper sleep without the fear of falling from your bunk. It looks set to stay this way until our final approach to Fremantle which should be around Friday.
An anti-wrap net will help, they said...
While we enjoy sailing downwind it brings more pressure as we are flying spinnakers which like to test us by wrapping and causing mayhem. In Cape Town we decided it was time to buy an anti-wrap net which has proved its worth but there are many ways a spinnaker can wrap. On finding that it could no longer enjoy a dance around the forestay, our spinnakers have taken to sending the clew between the forestay and itself to create a lovely twist which unless you spot, you end up grinding even tighter as you attempt to stop it flogging and get it flying again. Of course, the first time it decides to treat us to such a wrap was in the dead of night which always adds an extra element of difficulty. Our sail repairer has had a few busy days but luckily, they have all been rather minor and after a few solid hours of work the spinnaker is ready for use again. The plus side of a wrap is that our dropping and hoisting has become rather slick which as we are racing is critical as the less time we can have losing speed the better.
Drysuits or marshmallows?
It surprises me how much our environment can change out here; we go from a beautiful sunny day where the ocean can look rather inviting yet as the sun sets the wind can pick up creating bigger swells, the temperature drops, the rain comes in and the environment turns hostile. Being on watch in these conditions leads to wearing as many clothes as possible as well as drysuits in an attempt to stay warm and dry. The best thing about the majority of the crew being in drysuits is watch changeover when the new watch come up looking a little like marshmallows due to not managing to expel all the air from inside their suit.
No, we can’t adopt the birds
This leg we have had the company of many birds as they play in the air following us and I've been able to see my first Albatross – the only wildlife that our Skipper Dale seems to get excited about, unfortunately the penguins seem to be eluding us. It also surprises me the amount of small birds that there seem to be out here proving that size does not matter as they seem to be rather resilient, although some of the crew do worry for their welfare and I think given half the chance would adopt and house them onboard. I'm not sure the Australians would take kindly to us arriving with an aviary.
A sombre moment for the fleet
During this week, the fleet were informed of the sad news that GREAT Britain unfortunately had a MOB which lead to the loss of a crew member. Such news always hits home how much we are removed from everyone else and the assistance of rescue services. We are truly out here on our own, so it is imperative that we look out for one another not just onboard but across the fleet. This may be a race but when it comes to each other, racing will always come second. Safety has always played a key role onboard and we are even more vigilant now to ensure that we remain as safe as possible in the remainder of our voyage.
Next stop, Australia
Our sights are set on Fremantle, the promise of sunshine and some much needed RnR, the next leg will include the famous Sydney-Hobart race so we must make sure we are on top form for that.
See you on the next leg,
This blog was written by Charlie Garratt, Clipper 2017/18 Crew Member and 3Si Ocean Safety Ambassador.