I must apologise profusely for the lack of bloggintons lately. There has been much to do! Never fear though, you all are never far from my mind and now that I have a few spare moments, I will give you the download…so to speak.
First off…Airlie Beach. What an amazing stopover place! And with the added bonus that we didn’t damage any sails on our way there, nor was there much damaged and so maintenance was limited to the usual servicing of deck equipment and engines plus a few tweaks. This meant we all managed to get off for a proper rest. One I took full advantage of!
There was hiking, braaiing, swimming, jet skiing, food and drink…plus I got myself booked on a 3 day sailing/diving adventure on the Barrier Reef. What an amazing time that was. Namely because I was sailing on a boat I didn’t have to crew and also to get under the water for a bit. I love the peace of diving…it really is quite zen. Sadly, the reef was not on best form. The cyclone that hit last year has caused some pretty serious damage that will likely take a long time to regrow…if the rising sea temp and bleaching allows for that. Suffice to say it was not the riot of colour and life I had been expecting but we still saw some great marine life and I’m told the reefs further out are much better. Next time.
I also got some time to finally catch up with some of the people I love. The time difference made my window for connecting with friends and family very limited but I did try. If you’re reading this and thinking “oi, I should have got a call!”, I refer you to the previous sentence re: limited and timezone.
After 2 weeks in Airlie in the heat of the Aussie summer, we boarded our boats and set out on a 150mile motor sail to get outside the reef before a Len Mans start. For those who don’t know what that is…essentially, all the boats line up with all crew back behind the grinders. At the start gun, we all run forward and hoist sails and get going. May I say, we absolutely smoked the competition! For a good few days we were in first!
Sadly, out bad luck with sodding wind holes continued and we fell back a bit. Gah! At the doldrums corridor (where we’re allowed to motor for 240miles but that must be done in a minimum of 36 hours), we discovered that we needed to go backward and help out the Liverpool team who’s watermaker had failed. We had the only spare to transfer over to them. Happily, when that was done, they transferred back a bag of treats and a Pink Panther! We have dubbed him Rex. We have also won 1.5 hours redress that will be deducted from our finishing time. Fingers crossed we won’t need it but if we do that it helps!
Btw, There is a video of the transfer on the Clipper YouTube channel apparently. I may have a small cameo. Just sayin 🙂
Now, the thing with Rex is that he was immediately set upon by the boys onboard and threatened with all sorts of torture (water boarding, suffocation, dismemberment…I kid you not) to reveal Liverpool’s secrets. And so I had to take matters into my own hands to protect our new crew member. Ironic. Those who know me well know exactly how I feel about the colour pink and here I am keeping it safe. I must be getting soft in the head.
Strong note: this does NOT mean I find the colour pink acceptable, simply that I’m not into animal cruelty. K?
Since then, we have made up much ground and are continuing to push to the front of the pack. We also crossed the equator and had our ceremony with Neptune – for my crimes of fraternising with the panther, snoring louder than the international limit for a female and getting refused entry to a pub in Airlie, I was made to lick vegemite of a fellow crew member’s midriff, sacrifice a lock of hair and have a slops bucket poured over my head. Charming. My attempt at a moonwalk to provide penance and plead for a lesser sentence obviously didn’t quite cut it. Not surprising as the last time I attempted a moonwalk was about 1986. Anyway…
We have only 14 on board this race which makes us much lighter but does mean we’re working that bit harder to cover all the jobs that need doing. I don’t mind…rather be busy than bored and having the extra space to spread out a bit is most welcome!
So, we will carry on doing our best and see where that lands is in around 7 days. In China. That still blows my mind. Plus I’m nearly at the end of this chapter…starting to turn my eyes towards what’s next…stay tuned peeps.
Until next time, Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope wherever you are, you have the love of someone special (even if that is not romantic).
Big hugs from N 13deg
Shona is being supported on her Clipper 17/18 adventure by the campaign and social media marketing team at Goodman Fox, a digital marketing agency based in Buckinghamshire