And so to Race Start

We had anchored off Queenborough, enjoying a night safely amongst the rest of the fleet. No need for the watch system to kick in, we weren’t going anywhere in very light and pleasant conditions. A beautiful sunset closed what had been an emotionally charged day.

the end of an emotional and exciting day

I was up with a fellow crew member from the other watch, cooking breakfast for our hungry and eager race start day crew. We headed over to the start line in eager anticipation, Southend pier not renowned for excitement, but where the start of an 11 month adventure would really begin.

Lots of tacking and gybing, jockeying for position on the start line, ensuring that you were close enough but certainly not over the line within a minute of the start otherwise a 6 hour penalty would be yours. Our skipper decided to remain cautious and we remained in the middle of the fleet for the start eventually hoisting our spinnaker which could have been a challenge for the team as we had not had much practice with the middle weight spinnaker. We flew well until an unfortunate wrap around the forestay shifting us back down the fleet. Never in last position thankfully.

The weather forecast had suggested light winds with the prospect of having to anchor to avoid being dragged back into the Thames by the tides. Thankfully we avoided this and made good ground but the winds and lumpy seas meant a call for the bucket or a quick race to the stern for a quiet word with Neptune.

I had lunch and dinner to cook up, chopping vegetables and preparing teas and coffees on a boat that is healing over at quite ridiculous angles, grabbing things as they shift involuntarily across the galley is what I would call challenging. Suffice to say, that the sea conditions rather than the chefs skills rendered dinner rather less than desirable for many.

By the time my crew mate and I had shared this challenge we were both ready for a good sleep which is also a challenge when you are healed over to port and your bunk in starboard. Think climbing expeditions. You simply throw yourself over the cloth that is meant to hold you in your bunk, pull up your bunk to an angle that means you have less chance of rolling out, tightening the lee cloth to a point that it simply cannot let you down, and… Pray that sleep arrives before your boat changes direction again.

And that was day one… Only 243 to go!


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