"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

level 3 training

I can't quite believe that only a couple of weeks ago we were finishing our level 3 training with clipper. level 2 was really good after I'd settled, so I wondered how level 3 would go. the folk on the facebook group have been putting really helpful posts up about what to expect, so I had been warned it would be more intense than level 2.

after a night in the b&b, I turned up to the training office around 0830 on friday. for the first time, we hadn't been sent full joining instructions telling us our skipper and boat allocation - that was happening when we turned up. 

we weren't sure who was going to be on a 70, as there are only three in training use at the moment. luckily we got a 70 for the whole week, but one of the boats had to swap half way between a 68 and a 70, so we were pretty fortunate. 

our boat was split between two skippers, matt and chris. each of them had ten of their own crew, so splitting into watches was nice and easy :) they spent the week bickering like an old married couple and we all had great fun watching. they are both a bit of a nightmare to wake up for watch though...

the layout of the 70s is very different to the 68s. the engine and generator are in their own wee room, and you can get into it and almost stand up! a vast improvement :) however, the engine room is in the centre of the boat, between the two main accommodation areas... noisy!

the galley is pretty good too - right in the middle of the boat at the foot of the companionway steps, with saloon seating on each side of it. very sociable :) unfortunately, you keep banging your head on the cupboards when washing up and when the boat heels you can't always open the oven... oh well!

the sails are all stored in the dedicated sail locker in the bow area of the boat. there are four bunks in here as well, but I don't think we'll be using them that much. it's nice that they are not stored in the sleeping area any more! no more being woken up by headsail changes ;)

the deck layout is good too. there are twin wheels and no snakepit. instead of there being one tiny pit area miles away from the helm, everyone is much closer together so it's not all left to one or two folk.

the business end. winches and pedestal grinders (bunks below...)
unfortunately, I didn't take many photos. I know. not like me. and I can't get my hands on anyone else's... fail.

anyway, when we turned up to the boat to drop our bags off, first things first: kit allocation! off we went to a temporary shop further into the marina where the clipper kit manager and henri lloyd folk were handing out our goretex foulies, rockport trainers and soft shell jackets (RTW and leg 1 only). it was a bit like christmas, except I was thinking 'how the hell am I going to get this lot back to scotland'...

back to the boat with all our shiny new kit. we were faced with all our stuff sitting on the dockside and matt telling us to look at it, as this was 22 folk's worth of stuff for a WEEK. wow. there was tons. I was a bit stunned to be honest.

eventually, everyone arrived and got their kit and we loaded the boat up. we were hot bunking all week - where you are paired with someone on the opposite watch to share one bunk with - and other bunks were storage only. I imagine it will be like this on the race, so good practice right from the start.

we left gosport marina early afternoon to do race starts with the other boats. then we would leave on a short race. at least, that was the idea before the wind died.... clipper had a photographer on blackadder, a clipper 60 which was acting as the committee boat for the start, so he got some good pictures I reckon :)

once we'd left portsmouth, we settled into the watch system. it's amazing how quickly you adapt into it and it becomes normal! eating happens at watch changeover, you don't really see the opposite watch except for dinnertime when some whole boat training happens. this tended to be safety drills - man overboard, fire and flood, with some engineering stuff thrown in as well. all brilliantly delivered by chris and matt (still bickering) then generally put into practice when we were asleep. or in the dark. or ideally, both.

one off-watch we were woken by chris yelling 'fire fire fire. fire in the galley' and I went from spark out to upright in less than 10 seconds. tell chris you'd go out the hatch in the nav station and he'd let you out the companionway steps :) otherwise he'd tell you that you were injured and you had to lie down. or, like one of our watch, you didn't wake up in time and you also became a casualty. no names, kc... ;)

we did loads of drills on watch with matt. I could tell you about them, but I'd have to kill you. however, when the team chris spies came out on the last day, they were pretty noised up :D

everyone had to be watch leader over the week. this meant leading the drills, or delegating if you preferred, and leading headsail changes and stuff. I was quite terrified of it, as it's not really my style to be giving out orders (ask anyone) but I actually quite enjoyed it in the finish up. weirdly. I also discovered I really like helming when the boat is at unnatural angles. I'm waiting for andrew to email me a picture of this, but I have added his video to my youtube channel :)

chronologically, the whole week seemed to just merge into one big mishmash of watches and meals! I'm afraid my recollection has been so bad that it's proved a need to write this thing offline during the race then upload it in stopovers!

but now, I guess, we are all on our way to being trained ocean racers. what a terrifying prospect! I can't wait much longer for this race to start....


  1. You are so brave and I'm still loving your updates. Your not missing much in Oman, all very quiet with Ramadan.

    Bit bunkering sounds horrendous though, hope you get a clean and no mess bunk mate :)

  2. I can imagine it's quiet. although I do miss iftar buffets :)

    fingers crossed for a tidy person! although I think we change every leg at least.

    not long to go now :D