So, leg 2 was filled with wind, rain, gray and some sunshine. Had some amazing crew members, one of which I was totally in awe. Annie initially made me nervous that she would be sailing as she had tremors in her hands. However, as I saw her in action, she was a true inspiration. She tackled each task with an energy and strength that I wish I possessed. And, she was a music major, pianist and general music teacher for part of her life. This meant some great conversations for me. Currently she is a prison investigator. Anyway, she wrote an article on Leg 2 and I am going to share parts of it with you. Yes I have permission! No copyright violation.
On Board With Annie Siraut!
“I hold on to the glorious sunshine as we left, the stunning view over Copacabana beach and our laughter as we lined up to have the official photo taken because minutes after, the breeze picked up to a gale and as we roared over the line in third place we heeled over and the sea started over the deck and we were still in our sponsor kit! My opening memories of the leg aren’t great. Although we were getting seriously wet there was no time to change, we had damage to our main sail, while we were lowering it down and while working out that the battens weren’t doing their job, Justin very calmly appeared saying that it was a little damp down below as the engine room has flooded! So that’s my first memory, holding the mainsail down, sitting in water coming over the deck, passing out seemingly endless buckets of water from down below and cuddling up with Clem and Jason as we tried to share some body heat and not get too cold.
Yes I did have a bit of a mental check as I panicked thinking that this may be the way I get to spend the next 14-18 days of my life! I didn’t get much time to ponder it though as before I knew it we were trying to bring down the yankee at the front of the boat and Ryan, Alex and Han disappeared as wave after wave broke relentlessly over the bow.
I laugh about it now because it seems such an unpleasant blip in trying to get sea legs and with hindsight I then went on to have a fabulous sail. It was so bouncy for the next few hours that even Diane our skipper was seasick! All of that experience goes with the territory that we had chosen. Thanks to the ministrations of Elaine, who was the boats medic and some sheer grit and determination from the crew we were fighting back on to our feet.
Diane, as a racing skipper was very astute in working out a new course and plans to get us from the back of the fleet and we worked hard.
The leg from here on in is a patchwork of moments that stick with me. The first night sail still struggling to get my legs and panicking because in the heat of the moment I couldn’t remember how to work the transom – we went through it in daylight!
Sitting on the deck of the boat in the early hours of the morning and seeing the night sky in all its beautiful gloriousness and feeling very, very small.
The laughter generated by Tony, who had the fearsome responsibility of ensuring a stint of crew happiness every day and occasionally absolute hysteria, I’m talking foot wrestling here, yes really!
Working through those emotions when the Capetown watch went off in the early hours leaving us with a kite to wool and the utter joy and physical exhaustion as Linda and I not only woolled the thing but packed it as well (it really was quite an achievement).
Those girly chats with Linda and Elaine, whenever they occurred, putting the boats, the world and music to rights.
I also can’t leave out the wildlife and I’m not talking about the fellas on the boat.
The birdlife was amazing and it was a continual amazement that whatever birds we saw, rarely if ever flapped their wings. (Elaine’s mum if you ever read this thank you for that list!) We were also blessed with a couple of sharks, dolphins who put on the most amazing acrobatic shows and those very special few minutes when whales came alongside the boat.
I also need to give special mention to a certain young man from Alaska, yes Nick, whose heart and soul is so in the right place. The laughter as we realised we had nothing in common and me trying to get him to stick to the menu when we were “mothers”.
It would be a lie to say it was all good, there were dark moments, of course there were. I had never thought that I would need to use prison de-escalation techniques on a boat, nor that being told off for not crushing a clove of garlic properly could make me want to do terrible things to people with a garlic crusher! Nor that I would have a verbal punch up with another crew member as I refused to take media pictures of one of the crew stuck up the mast (No, it was not Linda…she was asleep off watch), I was in mum mode justifying the decision as not wanting to see my son in that situation used by Clipper. Yes, most of it was pretty silly because you’re tired and in the heat of the moment you learn to realise that and move on. I had to work hard to recall these bad bits because in the scheme of things they were that insignificant. The continuing good news is that the next watch is always a fresh start.
Before I knew it we were in Capetown and I was in tears again being hugged by everyone this time! Again not quite sure why but what’s not to love about gulping down a beer for breakfast with Carolyn’s homemade chocolate chip cookies (brought all the way from Canada!).
We then spent a couple of days cleaning the boat through (there hadn’t been time for a proper scrub up in Rio) and it was all going well before I ran into a bit of a personal bad spell. Diane leaving us was a major shock to the system, (you can read Clipper’s official version).
Friends and family are addicted to the race viewer. Initially to me it was a job done, a dream, almost a totally different existence. Those and my happy memories, the kindnesses of the crew (not even touched on I’m afraid), and the feeling of privilege of having sailed with Diane as skipper I will carry with me. I am slowly working out that I have sailed across an ocean and the fact that for the first time I have done something just for me without any other requirements. So I am slowly starting to feel proud of achieving for me, something that was no mean feat My family, friends and colleagues are starting to adapt to the fact that somehow I am just a little bit different!”
Annie has expressed many of my thoughts, but I will add a few more here for my readers.Tony always provided either a fun game or a serious question to be answered by each crew member. Very thoughtful and brought out some reflective moments for all.
Here I have to tell about one morning as we are in the middle of a sail evolution (change) a big pod of whales go by us. About as big as the boat big. One was about 25 yards from us and one popped up in front of the bow. And no there was no camera as we were in the middle of the sail change. AWESOME!
And yes the next day it was dolphins and again in middle of sail evolution so NO CAMERA!
However on the wildlife that I did capture on camera:
Ok, don’t want you to get too settled here so a little change!
If you haven’t heard of Sweet Chili Sauce yet, be on the lookout for it. Amazing!
I want to share one other thing that came in Rio. AYC put together a book of notes from friends that Emilie brought out. Among those was a very cool reminder to me of sailing and how it works. My biggest one is to always remember to put on my life jacket.
Thanks for the reminders and helpful hints!
And now we are in Cape Town!