Charlie's Voyage - The Final Countdown
It's been ten months since I stepped aboard in Liverpool and this is our final month!
We have just left Derry-Londonderry, our last stopover. Knowing that Liverpool is going to be quite hectic a lot of previous crew choose to return for this stopover, to give us all one last chance to be together and enjoy the Clipper Race atmosphere. This is what has made the Derry-Londonderry stopover the one to be at or as they call it LegenDerry! Not only did we have a lot of familiar faces back around, but the local people were extremely welcoming and friendly, all eager to hear our stories from around the world as well as celebrate our achievements alongside us.
Each team were adopted by a local business, where they were welcomed and made to feel at home. Some teams made their adopted business their port hub, having team lunches, dinners or drinks. The good thing about being adopted as it were, is that you always had some place to go.
Farewell Atlantic Crossings
Arriving after our last Atlantic crossing the welcome and hospitality made it all the sweeter. The North Atlantic was good to us for a final time, we had smooth sailing as the sea state was slight most of the time occasionally creeping into moderate. Our first week mainly consisted of sailing upwind but every time we were on the edge of our wind we would try the spinnaker to see if we were able to hold it. For a couple of days frustration was in the air, we could not seem to find the right sail combo to get us going how we would have liked.
Our race start was rather exciting, the whole fleet were like meerkats, eyes scanning the sea for the next water spout or fin breaking the surface to indicate where the whales were lying. As we sailed through both pods of whales and dolphins in what must have been their feeding spot we were treated to a variety of tail slaps and rolls and of course the dolphins joining in by showing off their jumping skills. We've yet to have one jump into our spinnaker when we've been heeled over but we do amuse ourselves by imagining what it would be like if one did take such a risk.
The final countdown
It's been ten months since I stepped aboard in Liverpool and this is our final month! In just a few days I shall be arriving back into Liverpool to the welcome of family and friends...as long as they've not forgotten me while I've been gone but then again, every now and then I have flooded their social media with pictures from the year so one can only hope! It's hard to comprehend that this will all be over in a matter of weeks, I'm pretty sure that it'll be a while before I fully digest what I've actually managed to accomplish but I shall be thankful for these blogs as they will serve as a reminder to me.
Thinking back to New York it was a great stopover made even better by a surprise visit from my very own Mum! Having not seen her since August 20th last year on our departure day and not expecting to see her until July 28th it was an extremely welcomed and emotional surprise. At the very least I had accommodation off the boat and a space where I could truly relax and escape the day to day on goings of Dare To Lead. The team is great but sometimes we all need that personal space that just can't be found onboard. I returned to the boat for this last leg rejuvenated. I may not have had many visitors while I've been gone but when I have seen a familiar face from home I've appreciated and cherished every moment.
Being in such an extreme environment for so long really reminds you the importance of having loved ones in your life be it family, friends or both this is a lesson that I think we could all do we a reminder of now and then. Too many times have I not responded to someone's mail, call or text or even worse let life get in the way of visiting those who live afar. I'm still no angel, I'm still awful and responding during stopovers!
Foyle Maritime Festival
Back in Derry, the Foyle Maritime Festival was also taking place which culminated in a spectacular firework show last Friday. For me this really hit home as recognition that I had in fact sailed around the world and I was able to share that moment with my mum and sister who had decided to surprise me with another little visit.
Ahead of me I have my last days left of sailing, which shall be spent racing around Ireland to the entrance of the Mersey River before a sprint finish down to the Royal Albert Dock. I know that my Clipper Race is coming to an end, I'm extremely excited to be reunited with family and friends but deep down I am trying not to register that this year really is coming to an end. What do I do next?! How do I say goodbye to all the amazing people I've met?
Going back to land based life is quite daunting. I now have to make decisions on what I'm to do next. Mainly work, sooner or later the savings will dissipate yet a main concern that RTW'ers have is “Will I be able to return to a 9-5 job?”. I guess you'll never know until you are back there. We've changed so much compared to who we were when we left and I hope that we have not outgrown our old lives too much, it won't just be us who will be adjusting but our family and friends will have to get used to a familiar yet all so different loved one returning. I look forward to the days ahead and our final arrival into Liverpool.
This blog was written by Charlie Garratt, Clipper 2017/18 Crew Member and 3Si Ocean Safety Ambassador.