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

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

gosport to london delivery and training trip

we left gosport in a big line and headed for the start. it had been decided this was the perfect opportunity for a short race and gave us a chance to practice 12 boat race starts :) we were slightly disorganised and were still hoisting headsails when the start gun went. by the time I asked when the race started, we were halfway to the first mark near the isle of wight before heading towards france...whoops...

a big line of clipper 70s heading out of gosport...
the weather on the way to france was pretty good. we had decent wind which was nice. after we'd had our tea we went into the watch system. I love being in the watch system as I get some really awesome sleep, as the crew discovered when I was a nightmare to wake up...

we got to the south cardinal just off cherbourg in good time then the wind died. a total flat calm. nightmare. we had to use the iron spinnaker (engine) to get round the mark or we would have been pushed into it by the massive tide. stuck in the wind hole we had a slow trip along the coast and back to england. we did get a few wee jobs done while it was calm though, so it wasn't a total write off :)

once the short race was finished, it was back to drills and skills. headsail changes and reefing drills are two of matt's favourite things in the world it seems... however, it didn't seem too long at all until we were at the rendezvous point and starting to motor into the thames heading for st katharine's docks near tower bridge:

the big bridge as we entered the thames
once we were under the big bridge above, we decided to start doing the deep clean of the boat. this meant we were busy for the boring bit of the thames and that we could go to the pub earlier when we arrived ;) as we arrived at the thames flood barrier, we were told to get on deck in our red jackets as there were photographers around. deep clean finished, we got on deck and watched as bits of london we recognised went past on each side of us.

I've only ever been as far as excel in london and that was with a tall ship which we were taking to the boat show. it was nice to get a bit further in :D

arty photo of the thames flood barrier and one of our running backstays

jo and allan chilling out on the bow of cv23 on the approach to tower bridge

tower bridge!! st katharine's dock is just to the right of it on this side. home for the next week til race start!
we got to st katharine's dock and there were loads of folk out to watch us in. I guess I'll have to get used to that sensation, along with the other 8 round the worlders on our boat. there were cameras and everything there. luckily, anthony was there to take a photo of our arrival. I'm the only casually leaning on the inner forestay:

cv23 arriving into st katharine's dock :)
parking in the dock was pretty tight, but matt did a really sweet park and before long we were tied up alongside and getting our arrivals talk from gillian. she gave us the race crew bands which would allow us onto the pontoons all week and then it was to the pub! our first pint in a week and I for one was pretty tipsy halfway through it... I guess I have to get used to that as well!

all twelve boats were finally parked and all twelve crews and the clipper office guys were in the pub that night which was really cool. everybody exchanging frustrating stories of being becalmed and socialising. something else to get used to :)

thanks to neil from psp logistics for this great photo of us all berthed up in st katharine's dock
the talk in the pub moved onto the inevitable and growing jobs list. a few folk had to head home once we arrived, but for the few of us who stayed on board continuously, matt gave us the next day off just to relax and not do any work on the boat. which was really great. me and kate went into london town and did some bits'n'bobs of shopping :D

then it was back to the jobs list...

gosport prep week

so eventually I managed to pack all my stuff up into the correct amount (and weight) of bags. success! three buses and one ferry later I arrived in gosport at midnight to join cv23 for prep week and the race. there were a few of us on board for that week and with others joining throughout we were a pretty busy wee boat. we got loads done but we did extend the jobs list massively as well...

we did all sorts of stuff, sorting the sails out, getting the specialist training we needed if we have a specific job on board, starting anti chafe protection up the mast and the victualling (doing the menus, buying the food, prepping the food bags and getting them all on board - a massive job)

I love climbing. anyone who knows me knows this. I just plain love heights. so when a volunteer was needed to go up the rig and do some work I was already tying myself into a halyard to be hoisted up the mast :) you get some great views from up there:

putting the elastic on the running backstays to stop sails getting stuck in there. our marvellous circus style canopy from above :)

view to port, everyone's very busy...
view to starboard

we worked some pretty long days, but generally had enough energy for the post work debrief in the pub by the marina ;) for me the longest day was the day we got our sails. four of us were dispatched up to the office to drag them out (on the grass) and flake them into bags, having labelled the corners and stuck all the glow patches behind the telltales. I had media training that day too, so had to disappear for two hours to do that. 

when I emerged from media training, the rain had been going for over an hour. everyone was drenched, the sails were covered in grass and spirits were low. we managed to get the ones that were out back into their bags, but it was pretty messy. the rest we left in their delivery packaging to sort out when it was dry...

the sails being sorted out before being packed in the sail locker...covered in grass!
 after the trauma of the sails, I went back up the mast. we had to put leather onto the spreader ends (to stop sails ripping or wearing when they are dragged across them) and also to splice spectra strops onto the spinnaker halyard blocks. sophie took a great photo of me doing the leathering on the top spreaders and I did a comedy selfie while doing the blocks. I am concentrating pretty hard in this one as my front facing camera on my phone is not great...

kate thinks this was taken by a seagull...
me putting the leather on the top spreaders. courtesy of sophie

anyway, six prep days later, and we were ready to go. we did a practice parade of sail for the media then left the next day. a week of delivery and training trip lay ahead of us. the calm before the storm is below:

lovely early morning photo of some of the clipper 70s during prep week in gosport :)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

post-training pre-joining madness

so, after training finished I charged around the UK for a week before heading back to the parents. this was really lovely. I saw loads of folk, relaxed, in dave's case cooked a lot (!) and got my washing done.

however it wasn't all fun and games. having survived level 2, my goddaughter and level 3, my glasses decided to snap and one of the lenses fell out. d'oh! wasn't expecting to have to buy new specs. as it had been some time since I'd had an eye test, I got that out of the way and the same day came out of the shop with two new pairs of reading glasses. you know, from the place that makes its name by doing buy one get one free :)

the same morning, I'd decided that as I seemed to have a free morning I would fill it. not by relaxing, reading or chilling out. oh no. that's not really me. I did a 3-hour introduction to circus class ran by the marvellous aerial edge at the briggait in glasgow. it was awesome. there are NO photos. and I hurt for around three days afterwards...

that week I was in glasgow. had to see the dentist and the hygienist for my annual checkup and polish, and see another bunch of folk. it was my mum's birthday too, so me and leigh were away doon hame to have lunch. they hadn't booked the place they like to go, and it was full, so we had to find somewhere else. it wasn't great, suffice to say they won't be back.

handily though, I'd left my photocard driving licence and passport at the parents, so they had a good excuse to come to glasgow for the day and have lunch there instead. a lovely two course deal at la vita in glasgow later, and all memories of the actual birthday lunch are erased. mmmmmm :)

drinks with folk the night after, then it was back to london town. clipper were launching the teamGB boat in trafalgar square. the video footage of the work required to get her in position is really awesome:

I stayed at a mate's flat in marylebone (plush!) and saw loads of folk I hadn't seen yet. I know, it's hard to believe by this time I haven't seen everyone I've ever met... I headed over to trafalgar square on thursday morning to see what the fuss was all about. it really looked cool and I think clipper did well to arrange it all.

teamGB, albeit with a daft stubby mast... ;)

from london it was onto the team building weekend with matt's minions (as we are now calling ourselves). but that gets its own blog entry :D