DaNang to Qingdao
Sea sickness claimed me for 3 days. It seemed longer and in 3 days my life moved in to survival mode. I've never pleaded with God before but I did in those dark hours, equally to keep me safe and then just to end it all quickly. A break in the weather helped me recover fortunately, or maybe it was God but I'm glad it's over.
It's been warm and humid still and ranged from rough to dead calm. We have been mid fleet for a while but I suspect that tactics won't be played out until the last. The threat of freezing weather has yet to come to fruition, thank goodness, but I'm sure we will get a taste eventually.
Much as I love sailing, this journey has been tough both physically and mentally. Domestic issues still fill my head and heart. All this thinking time is not always a good thing. Ocean racing can be quite boring. There is a lot of time sat on the rail which may look cool but is pretty uncomfortable after hours on end. Stomach muscles strain as you try to keep position against gravity. There are no soft edges to a racing yacht, just as you think you've found somewhere half decent something will dig on to you or of course you will get wet.
I've never been so constantly wet. Even when it's not raining or being washed by waves to soak foul weather gear, a dampness pervades everything and everywhere. The combination of a hard deck and damp clothes means that my skin is not happy and another case of yachtie bottie is in the offing - sudocrem on standby.
Now I don't want you to think ot all doom and gloom. Dancing on deck to Norah Jones 'Sunrise' at sunrise is a memory that will make me smile for a long time and the satisfaction of a well run sailing evolution is hard to beat, let alone walking up for that podium position. . The people I've met here have made this experience for me. Leaving them will be the hardest thing.
It's Mothers day as I write this. I miss my Mum and I miss my children. It's hard to describe how much this has affected me but only to say that I truly appreciate the joy they bring to my life.
We are 5 days from Qingdao, have sailed nearly 2000 miles and have roughly 750 to run. Is this the end for me? Still not sure.
We now lie 4th in the race and are catching up with LMAX. I've tried to give this my all and hope we can be successful in our quest for another podium. The ocean sprint has finished and we await the results from the other boats to see if we can claim the points. The weather is bringing light winds or no wind so although a smoother ride ot slows us down to a frustrating crawl. The slap of the main sheet is not a happy sound. Still it does mean going to the toilet is a more viable activity now without risk of spillage or damage to ones self.
The mothers also can now cook in more pleasant conditions and are back to bread and cake making. We talk about food all the time here. Things we miss and crave - roast dinners, liver and bacon, full English breakfasts! I can't wait to go home and cook up a storm. I shall take ideas from here too - thai green curry, rice and bean salads, noodles with peanuts, satay chicken, lamb tagine. We do eat well! However we continue to torture each other with endless talk of dishes we'll have when we reach land. I'm quite in to the whole noodles for breakfast, Vietnam style! We shall see what delights Qingdao brings.
........570 miles to run and there is no wind. Slap,slap,slap goes the main sail, up and down go the spinnaker and winseeker sails. Come on Qingdao! The temperature has dropped at last. My sleeping bag is very snuggly as are my mid layer clothes. Feeling much more positive today- perhaps that is because we are 2 days from port!
Thoughts turn to home and work when I get back. I'm looking forward to both. This break from normal life has given me new perspective on things and I realise what is really important to me. It's like having my eyes opened for the first time. Funny how you take stuff for granted. A new chapter in my life begins and I should take advantage and time to adapt to that.
I do however miss tea and chats very much x
Arrival in Qingdao
Wow, we are here! We cained in in from the finish line to make the deadline for our welcome ceremony which was totally worth it. 50 drummers and cymbal players in traditional costume played us in and up to a stage where we were greated as warriors from the sea. An experience I will never forget.
The last 2 days of the race will be engraved on my memory for a long time too. We hit an unexpected storm (the start of a cyclone) and experienced winds gusting up to 100 mph with big waves. The power of the wind and waves was frightening at times, especially when we had a rope snap which meant one of our sails was torn to pieces. Other boats had damage too but we managed to exit the cyclone fairly quickly and then sailed in to a wind hole, so made very slow progress for a while. Not only that but we ran over one of the many fishing nets in the area and were stuck fast for a short time while we manoeuvred ourselves free. There are literally hundreds of nets cris-crossing the channels, none of which are lit, so it's a torch job at night and eagle eyes in the day too.
However we have made it for 5th place, and I'm in a comfortable hotel room with a decent shower. Now I just need to make the decision about carrying on. I've been home sick, sea sick, elated, terrified, happy, sad, this race. All strong emotions and I want to make sure I make the right decision for me. I'm talking it over with the skipper tomorrow. I so want to finish this thing.