It’s taken me 9 months to get this sorted out, but at last I’ve managed to create a video of my experience on the Clipper 09/10 race - leg 1, going from the UK to Rio. Make sure you have the sound on when you watch it. Apologies for the slightly dodgy editing!
July 28th, 2010
Tomorrow I will be hopping on a train and heading up to Hull to welcome home the returning fleet of Clipper 68s as the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 09/10 draws to a close. For the round the worlders on board, this has been a long ol’ journey.
I keep trying to imagine how they will feel. Are they desperate to get home, sick of eating tinned food and dying to see family and friends? Or will they be feeling incredibly sad that the adventure is over? Will they feel lost, not really sure what to do with themselves? Or will they have found a new purpose and know exactly what they’re going to do next?
I only spent 6 weeks crossing one large, but relatively tame ocean. In contrast, the round the worlders have seen so much more, experienced even more amazing things and been to so many awesome places. How can they try to describe what it’s been like? I battled to translate my short journey to other people, so how will it be for them?
I am so excited to see them all again, to catch up with friends I shared a 68 foot space with and to generally relive the experience (because only people who’ve lived on a small boat together can know what it was really like). At the same time, I am nervous that I’ll feel like a bit of an outsider too. Because I won’t know what it was like crossing the stormy Pacific or rescuing the Cork crew from the middle of the Java sea or getting the magnificent welcome going into Qingdao.
I think Saturday will be a very intense day, with too much catching up to do, too many emotions and too many people all trying to squeeze the very last bit out of this grand adventure. Because after this, it’s over. It’s probably the last time we’ll all be together. I’m sure there will be reunions and meet ups along the way, but this really is it. After this weekend, the boats that were our home will sail back to Gosport and probably have a little rest, before being overhauled and rebranded and prepared for the Clipper 11/12 race.
The crew of 09/10 (particularly the round the worlders) will probably stay in touch but gradually we’ll all just get on with our lives. That crazy year when we decided to throw normal life out of the window will get hazy, friendships will start to drift and memories will fade. But no matter how distant or remote the experience may get, there is one thing that we can hang onto forever. We did it. No-one can ever take that away.
July 15th, 2010
It’s been 3 months since I returned home. I’ve still not found the words to explain it. The whole experience. Not sure I ever will. But every now and then, late at night, when I’m tired, or jaded or perhaps a little melancholy, something will trigger a memory. Tonight it was a post by Sticky fingers. She asked what the best feelings in the world are.
My immediate thought was: seeing my children sleep. They are utterly beautiful as they lie dreaming, completely unaware of the world around them. Their tranqil faces are a picture of perfect peace, and their deep, rythmic breaths a symphony I could listen to for hours.
But in a close second place of Best Feelings Ever, it has to be watching a night sky so full of stars that you have to pick out the black background, rather than the twinkling bits . And seeing a sun drop, yoyo like over the horizon while seemingly hoisting a full moon in its absence. And knowing that there is nothing else around you. For miles. And miles. Nobody. Except for the few people sharing the immediate 68 feet of space. And instead of feeling scared at the thought, feeling exhilirated, like you’re the last person on the planet and you’re getting to have a final look round before putting the lights off.
Those are my best feelings in the world.
February 3rd, 2010
So talking about the race takes a lot less time than writing about it and given that I am a little short of time at the moment, here’s something you can listen to instead. (Although I will write about it eventually)
I was on BBC Radio Berkshire yesterday talking about how it all went and what it was like. You can hear it here. Just be sure to fast forward to about 2:10:45 otherwise you’ll be listening to hours of chat about the traffic in Berkshire.
November 20th, 2009
I just watched ‘The schoolboy who sailed around the world’ - I had recorded it and had forgotten that I had. I turned it on. Somewhat relucantly. Not sure why.
And just like that I was taken back. It’s amazing how you can watch programmes about things your entire life and think you know what they’re about and then you actually do the thing you’re watching on TV and you realise that even though a picture (a moving picture) can capture a thousand words, a thousand words is still not enough.
You need to have been there, to have seen it, to have smelt and felt and heard and tasted it. And I only did the first little bit of that boy’s journey. But as he sailed into the Canaries and battled with squalls through the Doldrums, it was like reliving my experience all over again.
Watching him race through the southern Atlantic made me feel even more jealous of the crews who arrived in Cape Town this week. Watching him wipe out in the Southern Ocean made me think that perhaps being on land was ok! Yet part of me still wants to experience that.
It’s so hard to describe just what an impact the ocean has on you. It’s big. It’s blue. It’s surreal. It’s like a mirror that reflects your moods and indeed, creates your moods. And once you’ve sailed on it, really sailed on it, you can never ever see the sea in the same way again.
The only way I can describe it is that it’s like becoming a parent . Until you’ve been one, you can only imagine what it’s like, but you’ll never really ‘get it’ until you do it yourself.
November 18th, 2009