By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Benjamin Franklin

Joining my new home, CV 24 on Monday 12th August was quite a momentous occasion.  Firstly there appeared to be so much to do before she would be fit enough to sail to London let alone around the world.  Our list of defects ran to pages and then some.  This week was also about training for the various roles we were all undertaking. From bosun and rigger to safety, media, sail repair and the two roles I had, Chief of staff and medical co-ordinator.  A day and a half in the classroom took me away from the chaos of life on board.

It was great to meet the other eleven COS role holders and to listen to what they were already facing. I was extremely happy to be on CV24 with a well organised skipper who had her eye on the ball and didn’t appear to miss a catch. Already there were “office politics” creeping in on some boats. Plus an overwhelming amount of email traffic and dissemination of information. I was relieved that Greg and I had shared the role as the volume of email to and from clipper to the crew and back seemed to be immense.

From now on though it was up to me to ensure that pre and post race declarations were handed into the race office on time. If they weren’t we would lose valuable points. Losing them in your sailing position is one thing, losing them due to an admin error is quite another.

And then the medical training. Thankfully a number of the on board “medics” were not medically qualified and as a mother of three teenagers I felt that what I had experienced with them set me in good stead for the challenges ahead. I am calm in a crisis, can ease a fevered brow (!) and record vital signs.

We are supported through satellite telephony to an organisation that is in the market of providing remote emergency medical advice and guidance and the skipper is qualified to a high level to administer medical care. Plus we have someone on each leg of the race who has medical training. So my role ultimately should be just administrative.

That said, I have already had grazes, cut fingers, sea sickness and upset stomach to deal with…

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Our medical kit is extensive. From Hartmann rehydration solution to suturing kit, paracetamol, inflatable splints to catheters. About 11 large Tupperware boxes of medication and equipment that are stowed in the skipper’s cupboards in some semblance of sensible order. It took me and one of our crew half a day to run through the inventory of medical kit.

And then there was the practical training. Never did I think that I would find myself learning how to suture. But there I was with a pig’s trotter, learning how to fill up a syringe with anaesthetic, inject the wound ready for stitching and then actually use a suture kit.

Easy on an inanimate trotter, probably not quite so easy on a lumpy boat with a squealing, bleeding crew mate.

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a handsome piece of needlework for a beginner

a handsome piece of needlework for a beginner

Following our suturing lesson we moved on to maintaining someone’s airway in the horrendous event that they had stopped breathing. It appears quite easy to do on a dummy and my paramedic friend assured me that it was actually that simple in real life.

And our last lesson was catheterisation… Please guys, drink enough water and make sure you “go” regularly!

Again though, great learning and understanding how the emergency medical support will work on board was extremely helpful and reassuring. Suffice to say that I hope very much never to have to use any of these new found skills and that our entries in the medical log will be few and far between.

And then back to whipping the ropes (sheets) which prevents them from fraying and involves using a thread a bit like waxed dental floss that you wrap really tightly around the end of the rope and then with a needle do some fancy stitching that holds it in place, followed by burning off the end of the ‘floss’ to secure the whipped end. You then seal the end of the rope with a hot knife.

Victualling took another few hours of each of us helping bag the food that we will need for our three weeks at sea as well as the trip to London.

full food bags

full food bags

We also had all the bunks to put together, making sure the lee cloths were positioned in such a way that when the boat is healed over we don’t fall out of bed! A job worth doing well for sure.

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The week passed more quickly that you can imagine and there we were practising our parade up the Thames, in the Solent, taking an extra day to fix the last minute snags, knowing full well that there was so much more still to do when we arrived in London.

We are preparing as well as we can for success and we sure as heck know our boat inside out. Keep your fingers crossed for us!


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