Charlie's Voyage - A difficult approach to Seattle
Now the Clipper Race Fleet have arrived in Seattle, Charlie reflects on one of the toughest weeks of the whole race - the approach to Seattle.
It's the final day onboard Dare To Lead of Leg 6 we crossed the finish line at 0655 Seattle time, boy am I glad that this leg is very nearly over. We've approximately 10hours of motoring until we reach Seattle where we will be gladly welcomed in by our host port, family and friends from home and the race.
A difficult final week
This last week has not been an easy one for me or the rest of the crew, we were already at our limits when fate decided we were not going to be let off just yet. The main track had already broken at the start of the race, where Skipper Dale had spent a whole day inserting helicoils and tapping new rivets in to a successful end I might add. Having also navigated our way through the worst of the Mighty Pacific, we thought the track had been tried and tested without further failings...unfortunately this was not the case. As the wind picked up a few days ago, we set for a reef only to find our track had broken. This time further up and fairing worse than before, unable to drop the main Justin gallantly volunteered to climb aloft in a bid to help pull the sail down. Instead the ten or so sliders above 3rd reef were cut free and abandoned aloft as the halyard was gently eased while we scrambled to keep the main from blowing over the side. Nevertheless, the evolution was completed swiftly and successfully, but our race was over.
Our hearts sank, as I looked around at my watch who had already been on deck since 0400 and I could see in their faces the motivation drain from within. We've given this race our all, even letting ourselves believe there was the slight possibility of just clinching a podium finish. At that moment none of us felt the need to talk or attempt to buoy one another on, instead we sat there in silence saying goodbye to our race. One by one we each returned to ourselves semi ready for what was going to be an extremely slow and demoralising end to what has ultimately been a rather good race for us. Dusting ourselves off we set to work and fixed as much as possible of the main sail and track, we came so close to a fix, but it was not meant to be. We've dropped from 4th to 7th in a matter of hours and had a wind hole to boot, dropping places was not as hard to swallow as the wind hole! These last few days we've pulled together, moral onboard, considering all things, has been high as we look to Seattle and the delights we will find there. Instead of dwelling in what could not be, many a discussion has taken place around what we look forward to the most in Seattle.
Everyone needs a mantra
For myself and the RTW'ers this race very much so has been more of an endurance test than anything else... The phrase “just got to get to Seattle and then we're home” has been our mantra, when the hard times have hit, when you think you have nothing left to give you'll be reminded “just get to Seattle, that's all we've got to do”. I'm not sure any of us were fully prepared for the mental drain that this leg would have on us. North Pacific, you've shown us your power but I'm glad to be saying goodbye, if I never sail you again it'll be too soon. And we've been let off lightly compared to previous race stories! Give me a month or two and the rose-tinted glasses will be on...!
Thinking of home
8 months down 3 to go. It's at this point that I really am thinking more and more of home and life after the race. Having never spent this much time away (more so out of contact) from loved ones the challenge starts here. I know the time will fly by but more and more all I really want are the hugs that I know are waiting for me. It’s like driving home for Christmas; it'll be over before I know it!
Until then you'll find me spending the next few days stuffing my face full of fresh food; yes Mum fruits and veggies! But high on my list is; a stack of pancakes covered in syrup and crispy bacon, the biggest burger I can find as well as the cheesiest pepperoni pizza!! Oh, and I guess there may be time to see the sights.
In the next instalment... I could well be a few pounds heavier!
This blog was written by Charlie Garratt, Clipper 2017/18 Crew Member and 3Si Ocean Safety Ambassador.