Well it's been an eventful week in lots of ways and if I'm honest an emotional one. I do want this blog to be a true reflection of what's happening in my Clipper life so I can look back and remember what the hell has happened to me!
I had added Leg 4 to my race which would have meant being away for Christmas but I have now decided to go back to my original plan of Legs 5 & 6. Doing L4 this week has brought home the realities of the race. It's going to be exciting, challenging, tough and great fun, however I do still have responsibilities to my family to be a support to them and to keep myself well and fit. Maybe part of this whole journey has been me trying to reclaim my youth, sticking it to Cancer and being a bit reckless. But I'm not 18 anymore and I don't want Cancer to blow anymore of my life apart than it already did. Sailing does give you a lot of time to think, and I as I sat on the rail contemplating a long stint away from home I remembered that day I cried over my newborn son thinking one day he would leave me - he's now 20 and a man. Then he will be gone. He's off to Uni in September and one of the last things I can do for him is to be there as he settles in to a new chapter in his life and the same for Jack and Roy. I'm not quite ready to let that go and that's the way it should be. I would be mad to miss that. There is life outside of Clipper and life beyond it and I'm looking forward to being in that place where I feel content again with my life. Saying that I will still be away for almost 4 months! Race day is approaching and I know I will enjoy every moment of it more knowing my family are ok.
This week's L4 was an eye opener to the race. We had two 36 hour races against the other Clipper yachts. Beating in to the wind with a 45° heel on the boat was a real challenge. Everything is hard work. Not just the on deck sailing but down below - cooking, sleeping, getting dressed all proved exhausting. Day 2 and 3 were carnage on board with virtually everybody being sick. It's hot down below and cooking when you feel ill is horrible, but everyone stepped up to the plate and we had some great meals (when I could keep them down!) After about a day and a half I felt much better and could function more normally and even stay awake off watch for a bit. We did the whole hot bunking thing and sleeping on the high side - little did I know that George was using my sleeping bag and pillow while he was in my bed!
Highlights of the week were - dolphins escorting us in the English Channel as we sailed down to a mark just off the French coast, seeing Eddistone Lighthouse loom out of the fog, having a helicopter buzz around us taking publicity photos and a visit from the ice cream boat on our last night at anchor off the Isle of Wight plus obviously lots of sailing practice - spinnakers, sail changes, bow work, grinding etc.
We were a mixed team of Team GB and Team Wendo but actually for this week we were Team Clipper and we all got on brilliantly. We laughed a lot and made up silly stories about fish trainers to pass the night watch hours. The broken hank award of the week went to Adam who got up as mother at 2am half asleep and started cooking porridge for breakfast! Good times were had by all.
We are not expert sailors but I think we'll be ok. Next stop - The Race!