So, here we are approximately 450 nautical miles to the finish like sitting ducks with absolutely no wind whatsoever. I honestly thought our southern push would pay off, but it's not looking favourable at the minute. This wind hole does however give me chance and time to write a nice big blog, sat upright and with both hands which is a novelty.
Today has been a day of reflection for me of the past 32 days at sea. The amount of support we as a team and individuals have received has been amazing, and has really helped drive the team forward through the hard times. Regular life is full of ups and downs just like being out on the water but I do believe being out here can really put things in perspective, I believe it teaches people not to take the simple things for granted; the Sunsets, the Sunrises, the food we eat, the starry sky, the wildlife we share this world with, the Bed we sleep in, and, most importantly, the freedom we have to do whatever we want with our lives.
I am happy to have shared the last 32 days with the crew I have. As individuals, they have all bought something different and unique to the boat and I can quite honestly say I would certainly go out for a drink with each and every one of them afterwards. I'm just going to take this time to do some shout outs to my GREAT Britain crew. There have been highs, lows, and moments of pure hilarity experienced by myself and the crew here onboard GREAT Britain. So, without further ado let me introduce Jack Watch.
Spencer Bienvenue III (Watch Leader) - This 24 year-old has led his watch full of predominantly argumentative middle-aged men and successfully gained the respect from each and every member individually for the hard work, determination, and focus he has placed upon sailing the boat in the right direction at good speeds safely. He has also taken great responsibility in the depletion of chocolate stocks - he tells me the boat will go faster if he eats everything in sight.
Mark Tucker (Team Coordinator and Assistant Watch Leader) – Firstly, I want to thank Mark for just being generally more organised than I am. He has been an absolute pillar when it comes to a good old spreadsheet and lamination session. Mark is also responsible for some of the best blogging I have seen to date. Sorry Pip's Clips (Pip O’Sullivan), but you know it's true. From the Carrot Inquest to the DIY Prep for Ocean racing simulations, he really has had me crying with laughter as I read.
John Olsen (Want to be teacher’s pet and media man onboard) - You can tell just by his witty banter, his ability to have a smile on his face in some of the worst situations, and his love for a bunk bed that he most definitely went to boarding school. I did however overestimate his ability to take a decent video or picture. This wasn't made known to me until I discovered all of the footage was either upside down or of his feet. His Cheshire Cat smile, can-do attitude, and motivation to work hard towards the end goal definitely makes up for his media capabilities, and I look forward to sailing with him again on Leg 2.
Tessa Hicks (The medic you wondered how you never lived without) - Whether it's a plaster or a new limb, Tessa is there to help. She whispers soothing words of support to crew members on their down days and has the ability to put a positive spin on most situations. During the trip, she self-assigned to the sail repair team and is now considering a career change once the race is over. As a circumnavigator, I couldn't ask for someone more willing or supportive to help complete this huge challenge with. Well done so far Tessa.
Tim (Tetchy, Technical) Jeffery - Tim just quite simply makes me smile. He has been my go to for navigation and trim, casting a second set of eyes over the whole situation which is probably why we are sat in a wind hole now. I'm secretly hoping he will leave me with his lucky silk undies and his yellow fishing hat, making him look like a less serious Captain Birdseye. Joking aside, we will miss you Tim, and look forward to you coming back onboard for Legs 3, 7, and 8.
Ed Aldworth - We say goodbye to Ed after Leg 1. He has been a big asset to the team and a whole load of muscle on the bow, shifting sails from A to B, or sail locker to deck I should say. Ed stowed all of his belongings under my bunk on the first day and then proceeded to litter the area beside my bunk with his clothes which I labelled his ‘floordrobe’. I'll let him off though because he has always put in a strong stint in the galley, and is the first to put his hand up for the dirtiest of jobs onboard, but I guess that's just builders for you. Will miss you on board mate.
Ian Medland (Medders) - What can I say? When it comes to pushing yourself, this man knows all about it. Medders has shown true grit and determination through the toughest of times and I know this experience will stay with him for the rest of his life. Always good for a chat or a reassuring arm round the shoulder when things aren't quite going to plan. Will miss you and Elmo after Leg 2.
Ian Munford - The numbers man with the inside take on the media and TV world. Not a word of negativity has passed through this man’s mouth since leaving Liverpool. I can always turn to Ian for a level-headed conversation, whilst weighing up the pros and cons of a decision - providing he remembers one hand for the boat and one for himself and stays on his feet ;-). Again, will miss you on board after Leg 1.
Jon Milne - Mr Dry Sense of Humour. Always a pleasure to be on watch with and even more of a pleasure when wearing facemasks fit for a child. Those that know Jon will know he likes a pie, a beer, and a good game of rugby. Well, get ready for his reintroduction to life ashore. The man’s six pack is just about poking through and he is almost ready for the photo shoot as Mr March.
Nicola Thurlow - Our token teacher and chief of organisation. If let loose, Nicola would try and run the boat on her enthusiasm and positive attitude alone. I hear her geography students had more practice on the balance board than she did before joining. Looking forward to having you back onboard for a few more legs on the GREAT Britain Boat. Let’s just hug it out!!
And now on to Union Watch....
Headed up by Watch Leader and seamstress extraordinaire, Simon Speirs - Simon is a patient and meticulous man who prides himself on perfection when it comes to taking on the most intricate of tasks. He is one of my go-to helms on the boat, and has managed to get the most out of the gaggle of girls on his watch. He has taken on the look over the last few days of Indiana Jones mixed with a hint of an arts student, with his white beard, leather necklace with wedding ring attached, and wide brimmed hat. Seriously cool guy if you ask me and I'm thankful to have him onboard for this Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Backing Simon up as Assistant Watch Leader is none other than our very own ex-Olympic skier and commentator, Graham Bell. The guy just won't sit still. Which I must admit is a massive bonus on an ocean racing yacht when you're pushing for podium -– that is, if he's not showering on the back. He is like an alarm clock, every sched I will find him sat by my bunk waking me to find our latest position. Love the enthusiasm and will definitely miss the drive for the remainder of the race.
Pip O'Sullivan - What can I say? If she’s not busy filming or blogging for Pip’s Clips, she’s entertaining someone on board. I'm sure every boat has one!! A Pip that is!! She is great for morale and always up to something a little ridiculous to entertain the masses. You are like a brother from another mother. Just keep doing what you’re doing!!
Catherine Foster is the queen of stowage and heir to the stowage throne. In fact, I've never seen anyone so excited about a label making machine, it's a bit of a worry really. She provides the boat with a lot of giggles especially when mounting and dismounting her bunkbed, needless to say she did not qualify for next year’s bedroom Olympics. A 45-degree angle has often brought tears to her eyes and going to the toilet is not her favourite past time on board. Catherine, I will miss you!!!
Ray Gibson will fix it. What a guy!! Who's the man? Ray's the man!! Since joining the boat, none of the tools are in the tool box but now have made their way to a cloth bag that Ray carries around the boat with him to fix the odds and sods, from winches, tin openers, and generators. Believe it or not, the tin openers provided the greatest challenge. SO happy to have him as one of my circumnavigators. Can Ray fix it??!! Yes he can!!
Phil 'THE' Gunn - This guy is the King of Cool. He has a super relaxed vibe. From his washing techniques to his helming ability, Phil has it covered usually from a horizontal position. As our Engineer on the boat, he can often be found whispering sweet nothings to one of his mistresses, the generator, water maker, or main engine. As another circumnavigator, I'm confident this guy will keep my stress levels low, or at least give me whatever he is taking. It's been a pleasure so far!!!
Krishna Patel - The girl with the constant smile on her face, even when she is nursing a sick bag and throwing up into it for the fifteenth time in one day. She is absolutely fantastic on deck and gets on with absolutely everyone. I think her motto is 'If you ain't got nothing nice to say, don't say nothing at all'. Can't wait to see you in Australia mateee.
Gareth Blanks - Our very own pantomime dame. This guy loves a list and has a fetish with the back end of the boat. Since being on board, he can be found pottering around the Lazerette or constructing things around the boat. I have had to confiscate his angle grinder due to fear he may start grinding through the structure to increase space, or elongate his bunk. I have a list ready for you in port, because I know how much you love a list.
Antonia Hiesgen- Antonia is a very useful crew member to be used to distract my good friend Chris, the German Skipper on Qingdao. If he gets close tomorrow, I'm considering hoisting her up the mast as a distraction tactic. She's also the queen of hot chocolate making and ace on Galley Duty. Looking forward to having her back on the boat for Leg 2!