Mountainous Seas (of Paperwork)

Mountainous Seas

Last week I signed a contract to take part in the first leg of the Clipper Race 13/14. This makes the whole experience slightly more real – and a lot scarier! I am now officially signed up as Clipper Race Crew for the 13-14 Round the World Yacht race.

During the race, I will inevitably encounter mountainous seas that I can only imagine right now; I didn’t expect to encounter them whilst still on shore.  The amount of paperwork involved in undertaking this amazing adventure is colossal, with medical reports required from my doctor, insurance forms to fill in (who would have thought that would be so expensive!), passports to be renewed, next of kin forms and a crew biography for Clipper – and this is probably the tip of the iceberg!

The great thing about signing the contract and getting medical clearance is that I can start telling people about what I am going to be doing next summer, starting with family and close friends, followed by work and the world in general. People who know me know how much I love to talk about dinghy sailing to all and sundry – it is probably one of the reasons I became a dinghy instructor so I could have a captive audience :). Now I have another sailing related topic I can talk about – don’t worry, I will be on the look out for the glazed look in other peoples eyes!

The vast majority of people have been really supportive of what I will be undertaking. This means a lot to me and will get me through the tougher times that will inevitably form part of this whole journey. Without the lows, there can be no incredible highs.

Signed up for Leg 1

I attended a crew presentation in Derry-Londonderry whilst the Clipper fleet were there on a stopover at the start of July. Whilst at the presentation, I met up with a few other people who were considering applying, but were wrestling with the same issues that I was (and I suspect are common across the vast majority of the people taking part). These issues include how to go about funding this dream as it is a pretty big financial commitment and worries about how to deal with being in a confined space with 20 strangers and the conflicts that will inevitably arise. When you are on a 70 foot yacht in the middle of an ocean, there is nowhere to hide.

A good friend Sandra attended the presentation with me. She had been tasked with one job; her sole purpose on the 90 minute drive home was to dissuade me from applying. Well, that was a spectacular failure on her part – and she is usually my voice of reason! After twenty minutes of silence on the drive back, I had to remind Sandra of her duty – at which point she turned to me and told me that she just couldn’t even try and persuade me not do sign up for the race.

On race start day, I drove back up to Derry-Londonderry, handed in my application form and had my interview (more like a chat over a cup of tea thank goodness and not a job interview :)). I had the added bonus of watching the Clipper yachts leaving the pontoon to start their next race to Holland before going surfing at Portrush that had been the original plan for the weekend!

I have signed up for the first leg of the race, from England to Brazil, but am hoping that I can raise additional funds so that I can stay on the boat. Any fund raising ideas would be extremely welcome!

On board a Clipper yacht

When the Clipper fleet visited Derry-Londonderry last week, I took the chance to visit the city, attend a crew presentation and get on board on of the yachts. The Geraldton Western Australia boat was open for visitors; a number of the current crew were conducting guided tours… and making sure that there were no stowaways (not sure what gave them that impression and to be honest I’m not sure there would have been any place to hide!)

Thanks go to Matthew and Norman from the Geraldton crew for an insight into their current adventure.

Afterwards, there was time to visit some of the sights that Derry-Londonderry has to offer. The city was buzzing from all the visitors, there was music in the street and the sun shone occasionally. Whilst visiting the tourist information office, I asked if I was there to take a tour on the LegenDerry Roadtrain – so I jumped at the chance to see a bit more of the city. The train reminded me of the tourist trains I had ridden on as a kid in various towns in France – I never expected to see one in Derry-Londonderry or Northern Ireland!

And then the sun came out (something of note after weeks of rain and overcast weather). I took a walk over the Peace Bridge into Ebrington Square; once an army parade ground it has been transformed into a public space and there were a number of open air concerts taking place in the square as part of the Clipper Homecoming Festival. It was a great place to sit, drink tea and look back over the river towards the city centre.

In the beginning…

During my first year at University, my dad sent me an article from a newspaper about a Round the World yacht race that was due to start in 1996. It was something that really appealed to me, having just spent two weeks sailing around the Channel Islands as part of my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, but with a Student Loan and a degree to complete I put the article to one side.

Over the years I have kept track of the Clipper Round the World race, made easier over the past few years with all the information available on the Internet. Sailing around the world is a something I have dreamed about doing for a very long time… and this year I am starting to make that dream come true.

As the saying goes, “Every journey starts with a single step”. Mine starts here.


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