Crew Diary | The Clipper Yacht Vortex | derry-go-round (the world)

CV30 St Katherines Dock

It was my turn to write a blog post for the derry-go-round (the world) website the other day, so I wrote about the black holes found on every Clipper Yacht I have ever sailed on. I have lost many things in this vortex; some things have even been recovered. To see the original post head over to the Derry~Londonderry~Doire Crew website where is the additional commentary from one of my fellow crew mates Wendy.

Crew Diary | The Clipper (Christina)Yacht Vortex | derry-go-round (the world).

It is a well know fact amongst Clipper Race crew members that there is an additional part of the boat that doesn’t show up on any of the original drawings and is not mentioned during either the boat familiarisation tour or during the obligatory safety brief that takes place before the Clipper Yacht heads out to sea. Whilst I cannot attest to it’s existence on the Clipper 60, it certainly exists on the 4 Clipper 68′s and the 2 Clipper 70′s I have had the good fortune to sail on over the past 12 months. I am of course talking about the Clipper Yacht Vortex, otherwise know as the Clipper Black Hole.

On some boats, the force field surrounding the vortex is stronger than others, with things being claimed early on. During my level 1 training aboard De Lage Landen last September, I lost two head torches and one hand torch on the very first night, and we hadn’t even left the marina. Add to that socks, boots, passports and you get the idea. What makes things worse is that most of the crew have the same or similar gear – so you don’t know if you have misplaced an item, if the Skipper has confiscated it because you left it lying around in a communal area, if another crew mate is wearing it believing it is theirs or if it has indeed been claimed by the black hole.

To add to this confusion, the vortex is not above taking in people for a while. Yes, it really is possible to misplace someone on board a stripped down racing yacht. You can imagine that this is not a great thing for the cardiac health of the rest of the crew; if you lose your socks, toothbrush or even your life jacket down below then whilst it may result in a minor inconvenience, it doesn’t really get the heart racing like not being able to find a person at sea. After a few minutes, even though you know for sure the person hasn’t gone overboard, the adrenaline does start to kick in… I mean really, there aren’t that many places for a person to be down below. (And yes, the person we ‘temporarily misplaced’ during level 2 training turned up just as we were about to turn the boat round and commence full man overboard procedures… we were so relieved to see him that I don’t recall where he said he had actually been!)

Most items are returned eventually, although some things are lost for ever (or until the next spinnaker hoist if it is a particularly embarrassing article of clothing). There is most definitely an errant tape measure on Derry~Londonderry~Doire as she makes here way down to Rio – I search the boat 3 times in port, emptying all the cupboards and checking all the pockets and bilges but without luck… I know I put it in a safe place…

I have four weeks to go before I head off to Cape Town and join the Derry-go-round, so I am trying hard to figure out how best to keep hold of my gear, or even just my head torches as they are the first things I lose when I join the boat and the last things I find. I’m thinking of building on the ‘Mittens on a string’ concept and attaching everything to me with bungee cord… now what could possibly go wrong with that idea?!

Crew Diary | My CV30. “Are you mad?” | derry-go-round (the world)

Jon Team Building

Over on the Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew supports site, Jon Shelley-Smith talks about why he is taking part in the Clipper Race. I had the pleasure of doing my Level 2 training with Jon, and will meet up with him and the rest of the crew in Cape Town at the end of this month.

One of the most commonly asked questions of crew members and Skippers alike is “Why?”. Jon tries to explain his motivations and fears as he gets ready to join the crew in Rio in just 7 days! When questioned if sea sickness would be one of the challenges he simply said “ah yes, the joys of seasickness, I am not counting that amongst the challenges l look forward to overcoming.”

Crew Diary | My CV30. “Are you mad?” | derry-go-round (the world).


Playing Catch Up

Unlike my fellow crew mates currently working hard to drive the Derry-go-round to Rio (as we have affectionately nicknamed the good ship Derry~Londonderry~Doire), I have fallen behind in posting on the site in recent months. If you attend a Clipper Crew Recruitment Presentation, you receive fair warning that if you sign up for the race, it takes over your life for the duration. Whilst all of us in the room heard the message, I’m not sure that any of us fully comprehended what this actually means.

As well as the obligatory 3 weeks of Clipper race training which pretty much uses up all annual leave, there is the maintenance and theory course, crew allocation, building team websites, official team building weekend, unofficial crew get-togethers, boat preparation week (AKA ‘build a boat’ for this years’ crew), boat delivery trip to race start, race start weekend, then following the race via the race tracker to check on the position of the boat, crew blogs, skippers blogs, organising insurance and gear and preparing to leave your daily life behind for however long you have signed up to race on the boat (6 months for me). Throw into this mix the usual stresses and strains of work, trying to keep up with family and friends, the obligatory pre-Clipper wobble (think we all have one) and other aspects of daily life and things get pretty hectic.

Not that I am complaining, I did after all put pen to paper and sign up for this challenge willingly and with the fullest comprehension of what I was doing. But it does mean that something get put on the back burner, which I have to admit has happened to this blog.

Anyway – I plan to play catch up in the next week or so; until then, a few photos will have to suffice!

Clipper 13-14 Crew Allocation Picture

Crew Allocation (Spot me to the left of Sir RKJ’s right hand).

clipper 13-14 race, clipper 70, clipper crew trainingHelming a OneDLL CV20 in the sunshine during Level 3 training

Team Sean's Round the World Bar

The first of many outing for Team Sean’s Round the World Bar at team building

Parade of Sail Dress Rehearsal

Dress rehearsal for the Race Start parade of sail – and the first time all 12 Clipper 70’s were on the water together.DLD Boat NamingThe boat naming ceremony for Derry~Londonderry~Doire prior to race start



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