Greetings people who fancy hearing what I’m up to! Been a while, I know. Things have been busy through the festive season over here on DTL Down Under! Hope you all had a wonderful break with friends and family and those you love. I certainly had my own fair share…
First a few thank yous. Thank you to Suzie and Pam and Jacqui and families for looking after me in Fremantle! It was so great to catch up with you all after so many years! Also to Agnes, Cille and Bjorn for making Christmas Eve and Christmas morning in Sydney so special! And for having the patience to get me surfing (I got up onto my knees!). You are such a wonderful family and I hope to one day repay the favour. And then to the fabulous Ms Jodie Hayes coming all the way over from Blighty and bringing her famalam for a Christmas blast and for helping to keep me safe in Hobart. What a lucky girl I am to have such amazing friends around me. Much love to you all!!
And to the sailing: well, it has been quite something. The Sydney Hobart Race was the most surreal experience I’ve had on a boat. 107 boats racing, over 2000 spectator boats on the water and no less than 12 helicopters in the air filming. Quite the spectacle! I was bowman for the race start and was bricking it that I would screw up and we’d end up ramming someone in the melee! Happily, that did not happen and we had a smooth 3 days headed down to Hobart. Unfortunately, after the forestay debacle of Leg 3, our rig is completely out of whack and we just haven’t been able to get the boats to the speed we would have liked. Nor to even quite point in the direction we’d like…so a nice job to sort out in Airlie Beach…which is where we’re headed now! If we ever get out of this sodding wind hole and ridiculous current. Last night we spent about 12 hours going backwards! Sob.
Things have been getting a lot more technical for me as I graduate to having more responsibility on the foredeck and master-classes on the helm. It’s been fab to get the experience and my confidence in what I’m doing is coming along in leaps and bounds. Happy days.
Someone I adore emailed me the other day and asked if I thought I had found what I was looking for on this trip. My answer was yes, abso-bloody-lutely. As I thought more about it, though, I started to wonder how I would define it. I mean, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, there are plenty of things I’m learning about sailing and even having small, subtle, but important shifts in how I view myself and my interactions with others…but is that it? Not really. There are 2 other things I think have come my way…
1 – perspective: when your life is defined by a 100sqm space shared with 20 others and the choices you make can literally be life or death, the trivial starts to fade into the background. What I define as trivial has changed too. Getting irritated by a late train going to work? Ha! Try waiting 8 hours for the wind to pick up just so you can cover the same ground you did yesterday. Your favourite pair of jeans doesn’t fit anymore? Pfft. I’ve worn the same clothes for 7 days now and the only reason I changed my pants is we got soaked (more on that later).
These things do not matter. I am clothed. I am dry. I am fed. We make the best out of the things we have to hand and you know what? I’m having the time of my life*!
Now let me talk to you a little about white squalls. Never heard of one? Neither had I until it hit us in the face. We went from pootling along at about 8 knots boat speed with 15knots wind to the boat broaching (going on it’s side) in 55knots of wind. All of this happened in the space of about 3 minutes…I shit you not. The reason it is called a white squall is the amount of water it contains. Torrential rain and swell that went from nothing to 6m waves in the same timeframe. Water water everywhere and hardly space to see. Think ‘whiteout’ in a blizzard but with water.
Thankfully, our inimitable skipper saw it coming and we managed to get the boat and ourselves under control without any damage. We ended up at midnight, soaked to the skin and exhausted. Again, thankfully, as we’re so far north now, the warm weather kept us from being too chilly and the following day, all the clothes were dried on deck. Looked a bit of a gypsy laundry up there for a while! 🙂 They don’t put that in the brochure, do they?
I tell you what else they don’t put in the brochure…the boat sweats. When it’s hot and humid as it is now, with all these perspiring and breathing humans below, condensation starts to form on the walls, floors, ceilings…everything. And it drips. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we deep clean this place.
Now I’m looking at what I wrote and thinking, “people must think I’m living in hell!”…and sometimes it does seem like it. But the days like today where it’s warm but breezy, you’re in shorts and sun cream and looking at a glorious sky….or even when I’m bouncing up on the foredeck in a squall…it’s exhilarating. It’s beautiful. It reminds you how deeply connected we are to the world of the natural and it brings me moments of unmitigated joy. That is worth it a thousand times over.
Now: anyone know a good management for carpal tunnel syndrome? Apparently all this helming and pulling on ropes has my tendons in a bit of a tiz.
Darlings, I thank you for reading, as always. I hope you’re well and happy. I ask you to please go and have a bath and a glass of wine for me…and maybe change your pants. Just because you can.
Big love from 29deg south, 152deg east.
*despite aforementioned wind holes and white squalls
Sailor, Puppy Owner, Reader, Music Aficionado, Wine Lover, Runner, Traveller, Adventurer, Crewing the 2017/2018 Clipper RTW Yacht Race! Smart, Sassy, Solvent, Sorted.