5th August 2017

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all well and following the race viewer! The irony of this is that you get updates on all the boats more frequently than we do. We only get all the boat’s positions every 6 hours so we have to constantly guess what our competitors are doing. Sometimes we have to take a gamble with our tactics and you never quite know if they’re going to pay off or not! It’s all very exciting though, especially when you hear that you have crept forward in the fleet! This won’t last forever so we have to keep sailing hard (lots of sail changes, a lot in the middle of the night. Grinding and easing the sails all the time trimming them to go faster, I am going to have superman shoulders and arms by the time I’m in Punta). Currently Wendo (Sanya) is hot on our tail so we are doing our best to get away from her! We are trying to catch Qingdao and hope a tactic may pay off over the next few days.

Oh golly, this ocean lark is quite hard work! Especially in the heat that we are experiencing on the boat at the moment. I am well used to the sleeping patterns now and the body has adjusted to being up all hours in the night. The best watch is when you get to see a sunset and a sunrise on the same day, awesome. Whenever I see the sunrise I can’t help but sing the Lion King at full blast. Apparently this frequently wakes up the other watch – I’m not sure if they are happy about this or not! Talking about the night watches, I have to say that the stars out here are breathtaking. Every night (if it’s clear) I have a quick lie down on deck (occasionally I fall asleep) and look at the sky. We probably get an average of 10 shooting stars a night! And the other night we also got some flying fish! We have seen a lot of fish flying across the water as well – they are quite amazing! We have also had little squids appearing on our deck in the night too! I am still waiting for a flying fish to hit someone in the face (no doubt it will be me!) On the subject of watches, someone from the opposite watch is responsible for waking the oncoming watch. This has of course led to a number of responses and we rate the wake up. There needs to be the right balance between not too annoying and also forceful enough that it actually wakes you up. I was woken up this morning by Gra-Ham (as pronounced by Antonia) shouting “GET UP IT’S BACON AND EGGS DAY”.

The heat is pretty bad. When you are wet and cold, all you want is some warmth but this is seriously hot. I am currently lying down below in my underwear (this is becoming a common occurrence and I have been renamed Miss September) and I am just sweating profusely. Sleeping is very hard work and it doesn’t help that my bunk is right next to the engine room so not only does that make a noise like a tractor, but it is so hot when it’s on! You can just feel the heat in the sun as we get nearer and nearer the equator, lots of sun cream is needed! Down below is pretty bad – I was on galley duty a couple of days ago and I was soaking wet for most of it. So much so that I was hosed down with the fire hose at the end of the day. That was a treat!

So, ocean racing – think Groundhog Day. Each day throws up different issues – chafed ropes, ripped sails, extreme heat, seasickness (everyone is over this now thankfully), no wind, lots of wind, changes in tactics, but the basics are still the same. Get up wearing the same clothes you went to bed in, eat something (usually fresh bread that has been freshly baked!), get on deck and in position, find out the race plan for the day, do your jobs on deck (sometimes there are loads and sometimes there aren’t any at all if our sails are trimmed and we are on one tack), eat some biscuits (I am consuming a lot of biscuits), go off watch, eat, sleep…etc. It really is eat, sleep, sail, repeat. There isn’t a lot of time for downtime although you can sneak in the occasional sleep on deck if you’re lucky!

At least we know we are getting closer to our destination and the racing is very exciting! To be honest, it is all great fun – hard work, but really good. Andy keeps reminding us that we are not on holiday, but not working for a year does feel a bit like a holiday! The only thing missing is a swimming pool, pina coladas, and a proper bed at night. As Catherine regularly says, “oh I really am having a lovely time”. We’re not sure how we’re going to keep this up for the next 2 weeks as it takes a lot of enthusiasm and momentum to keep functioning, but I think we can do it.

All the crew are really fab – the GREAT boat really is the boat of fun. We laugh a lot, we moan together, we work hard together and there have been numerous times where each watch has gone without sleep to get jobs done. The food seems to be ok, some mixed reviews and a lot of people are losing weight (alas, this doesn’t seem to be happening to me!) – not sure if that’s a good thing or not! I am already thinking about shopping in Uruguay…and am starting to panic that we are going to run out of loo rolls and washing up liquid…but keep that one quiet!

Today is Super Sunday – clean clothes (including pants), and my crewmate Gareth has just done the Pants Fanfare!! I have also had a sea water bucket shower off the back of the boat and I get to open one of my lovely letters from ‘Pips Post’. Oh and of course bacon and eggs for breakfast! It has been another scorcher but if we can get this boat moving as quickly as possible it will all be worth it!