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Charlie's Voyage - A change in weather, and tackling the snack pack

All has changed this week as the temperature has dropped and the wind has increased, but the most important thing is...what to do with the snack pack?
Charlie at the helm

Searching for the perfect clothing combo

Another week in but this one has been the complete opposite of last, temperatures have indeed dropped which has seen the return of many, many layering options in a bid to find the perfect combo. I've come to the realisation that no matter how prepared you are or how much planning you do you will never find the perfect clothing option on the Clipper Race. I can be prepared and dress myself for hours of sitting on deck in the freezing cold with wave after wave crashing over me but the minute I go to helm or we need to reef or do a sail change I find that I am overheating. Being warm to start with is great, it’s like having a warm hug enclose you when you need it most yet that quickly turns on you as the sweat starts and then as soon as you cool down you're in a worse position than when you started. Cold sweat. Now I'm not only cold but wet too which means I'll never warm up properly until I've changed, an unlikely option as more than likely I've another three hours still to go on watch! Not that it's much better below deck as everything is cold and damp anyway, my boots seem to get wetter when I'm off watch than when I'm on – I'm not sure if this is due to condensation or I've managed to put them in the direct path of a pesky drip!?

Drive it like you stole it!

In essence the sunshine and warmth have left us which means we are all now complaining that it’s too cold. Moans such as “take me back to the doldrums” can be sailors never seem to be happy! However, what this weather does mean is that we are finally crossing off the miles to Seattle, we've seen some fantastic speeds recorded by our helms. Personally, I managed to get Dare To Lead up to a top speed of 25 knots with two reefs in the Main sail and a Yankee 1 up. Had I looked behind me I would have seen a rather large wave towering over me...I'm glad my eyes were firmly focused on the bow! That is a moment that shall stay with me for quite some time, feeling the boat take off from under my feet moments before was the warning for me to hold on and 'drive it like I stole it!
Dare to Lead in the North Pacific

Surprising myself

If I think back to pre-Liverpool days, I can distinctly remember being concerned about the two crossings; The Southern Ocean and The North Pacific. Our crossing in the Southern Ocean was mostly upwind but we did see some big seas which upon reaching Fremantle I was able to look back and be surprised at how much I just took in my stride. On this race, so far, I've also surprised myself. Little did I know that I would have the cheesiest grin and be full of laughter as waves crashed not only the crew in the pit but also me at the helm as I pushed with all my might to keep us downwind. Every so often I can be heard squeaking for a little help and that's when the check helm steps in with an extra push as sometimes you just don't have the brute force. There are moments when the check helm needs to help with an evolution which means you are left solo behind the traveller, these are the moments when I hope that no big gust or wave comes through or if it does then I hope that I'm able to find the strength from deep within to keep us steady. It’s a full body work out back there some days!

Snack time

The kettle is being put to good use with plenty of hot drinks to keep us going, we are on our last bag of Ovaltine which could cause some issues! Luckily, I have a small pot of hot chocolate powder which I may break out next week for my Watch to enjoy on a cold night watch. The snacks for this leg have been divided into two bags one for each Watch, each bag containing 26 items. There have been many a discussion on my watch as to;
  • What day do we open the snack bag?
  • Which watch period do we have a snack in?
  • Do we have one snack a day or multiple?
  • Do we select the snack or have a lucky dip?
Naturally, with nine people there have been differences of opinions so our discussions have taken several days but the final ruling came down to a majority vote. We our treating ourselves to one snack a day shared evenly, the mother also partakes in snack time – although there were a few murmurs amongst the watch as some were keen to eat extra. Each day the snack is a lucky dip however, I know there is a tub of dried apricots in there somewhere and the day they get pulled out is the day we draw again, dried apricots are just not as good as dried pears!

Time to return to the helm – see you next week!
This blog was written by Charlie Garratt, Clipper 2017/18 Crew Member and 3Si Ocean Safety Ambassador.

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