Monthly Archives: July 2014

the end part 2

And so we have it, Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2013-14 is over.

The journey up the Thames will forever last in my memory, it was incredible.

The joy of family and friends and crew seeing each other from the spectator boats.  Who is it?  Can you see them?  Oh wow!  There they are!

I thought that I would be really tearful and overwhelmed, but not so.  I was ready for the finish. I’d had a great time, for the most part.  I’d shed more tears in the last eleven months than probably in the last eleven years, especially so whilst in Den Helder.

So I was empty of tears and full of joy, elation, and thanks.  Thanks to wonderful family and friends.  Love and pride demonstrated like never before.  I knew for sure that I was cared about in a way that I’d never dreamed of.  I’d achieved something that few would even consider, let alone do.  Thanks to the amazing meeting of Lesley Roberts and Sue Knight in Kerala in 2011 I’d achieved something amazing.

And returning up the Thames could well have been a Canaletto piece or a scene from a 1690 pageant – no tall ships but still, twelve amazing racing yachts built more like Land Rovers than Ferrari type Volvo racers that had safely housed hundreds of amateur sailors.  We’d pushed them, challenged them, abused them and they’d still done a sterling job.

Coming up to Tower Bridge marked the end of the journey.  A spectacular journey it was.

Seeing Swiss flags and former crew was warming and hunting for family faces intense.  There they were, first Katherine, then William, and then, framed in the sunlight, Mum, with tears gently rolling down her cheeks, and Jean with a huge smile of her face.  And finally James, who had supported me around the world in port, from home.  You name it, he’d been there for me.  And Jean and mum and Lesley had sent cards with wise words; love and luck; fun and “special packages” to nearly all the stop overs.  I am a lucky woman.

Hands on the stern mooring line I concentrate.  Don’t want to muck up now, in front of thousands!  We don’t.  We’re moored.  Cameras clicking, crowds shouting, clapping, laughing.  The noise of relief, joy, excitement is overwhelming.  Yet still I am speechless.  I must be grinning like a mad woman.  I am so happy.

And then…the ’til now hidden bottles of fizz are revealed and we all tuck in – in our trusty plastic mugs (!) to varieties of fizz.

Team Switzerland is fifth out of twelve boats in the clipper round the world yacht race.  Our goal had always been to finish in the top half of the fleet, to end the race with smiles on our faces and we’d done that.  We had always done our best, everyone giving of themselves all that was possible at any given time.  When that came together, and the team did every bit of their best at the same time, it worked wonders and we earned podium positions.

Now was time to celebrate and enjoy the feeling of being superstars for the afternoon.  Seeing ourselves on the big screen was fun and our heads spun.  We’d all made great friends, experienced things way beyond our comfort zones of eleven months ago, laughed, cried, teased, baked, cleaned, sailed our socks off and lived like we’d never lived before.

The end!

And…………

The start of a new beginning!

life continues as normal for some

life continues as normal for some

The end is nigh part 1

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it ~ Greg Anderson

Breakfast starts a little bit later than usual, some of us have been lucky enough to have an extra hour sleep before our big day begins. A yummy breakfast of bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon. Well done Greg!

It is grey and slightly damp, light rain gently falling and Continue reading

To infinity and beyond

Thank you Toy Story and thank you friends and readers for patience with me. I have been a little lax in my writing recently. Apologies.

As some of you already know…..we’re done. WOWEEE and double wow. But for now and before the excitement of the story of the end, a little tale of the what happened before the end. First the good news. Team Switzerland is secure in their overall fifth place position, having gained a first and two third place positions. I have no hesitation in confirming that I am seriously chuffed. We’ve done well.

Race 16, the final race in the Clipper round the world yacht race 2013-14, Den Helder to Southend – The race committee in their infinite wisdom Continue reading

Londonderry to Den Helder

The welcome into Londonderry was incredible. Crowds lined the river front and cheered us in. The mayor, Brenda Stevenson came to welcome each and every boat. She appeared to be quite a force to be reckoned with; passionate about her City with a warmth of welcome truly outstanding and mirrored by the whole community.

I hadn’t seen my daughter since December 26th when we’d set off on the Sydney Hobart race. As soon as customs clearance was over, we were permitted to exit the pontoon area. I was so excited and just sobbed with joy for a time that must have felt very l – o-n-g for Katherine. It was wonderful to see her. I’d missed her so very much.

And then in amazing Derry hospitality fashion Anne McDaide, whom Katherine had only just met, offered us a lift to our B’n’B accommodation. Bless her. She later appeared at race start on her brother’s boat to wish us all the best of luck. Thank you Anne, you were great.

We ate and drank our way through the stop over, enjoying a great prize giving in the beautiful Guildhall, carefully and gloriously renovated after a tragic bombing during ‘the troubles’. We even had time off to visit the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery (the oldest in the world) and other sites around the area. Definitely on our ‘to visit again’ list. Londonderry was a fantastic stop over, including a Beach Boys concert (!) and the first stop over in which we all felt we’d actually had some time to ourselves rather than living for Clipper and the race.

And then to the second to last race of the whole series. Where had the time gone! A quick (ish) race up the west coast of Scotland, over the top and through the Pentland Firth. If we got the timing wrong here, we’d see ourselves going backwards at nine knots, no thanks! So it was to be a coastal race with tides to contend with, then the North Sea…. Choppy and quite ferocious at times, along with oil and gas rigs and a few wind farms thrown in for good measure.

Meanwhile the send-off from Derry was just as amazing as our arrival. Crowds lined the river front. And as we paraded up to Greencastle along with a number of pleasure boats, we were rewarded with a red arrows display. Truly spectacular and a great way to end our stay before a fun line start to the next race.

From the start of the race we could see most of our competitors most of the time, every watch was tense with how much we’d gained or lost against them. Old Pulteney and OneDLL were out there aiming for success into their home ports. OP skippered by Patrick, a Dutchman, keen to make headlines into his home country. And then there was Derry hot on our tail. The whole of this race had been nail biting. Really exciting. And right down to the last moment we fought and fought to keep our place on the podium.

Finish line in sight and……Derry are so close. So close you can see them on deck. They are keen to gain points so they have a chance of finishing overall in third instead of OneDLL.

YEHHS!!!!!! We did it, we held them off and earned ourselves another podium position.

Team Switzerland arrives third into Den Helder with our final stop over ahead of us.

Land Ahoy!

We’re on the 6am ’til noon watch on day we arrive into Ireland.  Richard who’s from County Derry is on the helm.  It’s a quiet start to the watch, we’re under engine with the mainsail and just going through all the jobs we can finish which will mean we don’t have them to do when we arrive.  Halyards checked, staysail checked, winches cleaned, bilges scrubbed.

Out of the quiet come the words, “land Ahoy”.  Richard has spotted Continue reading

Migration

WOW and double WOW

dolphins 2

There are tens of whales and dolphins around us, you can see huge whales on the horizon blowing and breaching.  Lovely languid pilot whales interspersed with giddy, jumping and playing dolphins. Male and female whales with their calves. Huge sperm whales and tiny (relatively – albeit a tonne when they are born!) calves gently meandering through the still waters. Continue reading

The Perfect Storm

The Perfect Storm – shorts and t-shirts replaced by thermals in less than a watch change!

Here we are in the area made famous by the movie. We are hoping that massive low pressure systems won’t impact us in quite the same way!

As we head south of the Grand Banks towards the Flemish cap the waves are bigger and lumpier – calling for dry suit on deck.  The water temperature has dropped from Continue reading