I’ve been in New York for 2 days and the ground is still moving like I’m on the boat. The enormity of what I’m about to do has hit me as we prepare to sail across the Atlantic.
The first few days of the stopover in Bermuda felt more like a holiday as after the refresher training I had time to visit Elbow beach and have a swim. Clipper also organised a working party with a local environmental charity on Truck Island where I helped with a eco regeneration project to plant indigenous mangrove plants.
On Sunday 19th June following a parade of sail the fleet left Bermuda and it was the first time in nearly three years to sail on a Clipper 70. Even though I’ve been reading my training manual during that time I seem to have forgotten more than I remembered so it’s was a steep learning curve on the passage to New York.
I had hoped that I could update this blog to include photos and more details but WordPress doesn’t seem to work from my phone or iPad. Hopefully when I get to Ireland I can sort it out.
In the meantime, for the latest news and updates visit www.clipperroundtheworld.com and follow my team on Facebook – Dare To Lead 2019-20 Supporters
The fleet of 11 yachts have been stuck in the Philippines for two years. Fortunately in February of this year, the race Skippers and First Mates were able to fly out along with the Clipper Race maintenance team and staff. Weeks of hard work followed recommissioning the boats assisted for two weeks by the returning crew from around the world.
Since then the fleet have raced from the Philippines, across the North Pacific to Seattle for Leg 6. Within days they will enter the Panama Canal having sailed down the coast of America and Mexico for Leg 7 which finishes in Bermuda.
On 1st December 2017 I had an interview with Clipper Race and was offered a place on the crew for Leg 8 of the 2019-20 edition of the race. Who knew that 4 years later I’d still be waiting to sail. Due to the pandemic the fleet of eleven yachts has been stuck in the Philippines since March 2020.
On 12th November 2021 the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race announced it will be resuming the 2019-20 edition in March next year after receiving a Special Event Permit from the Philippines. Read the update here.
As things currently stand I will join the fleet in Bermuda on 14th June 2022 ready for the final leg of the race which starts on Sunday 19th June. The fleet will race to New York then across the Atlantic to Ireland before heading to the finish at the Royal Docks in London on Saturday 30th July 2022.
We happened to be visiting family in Liverpool in August
2017 and I saw on Facebook that there were yachts in the Albert Dock, preparing
to set sail on a round the world yacht race. I suggested to my family that we
could go along that Saturday and take a look.
As we walked along the dock looking at the fleet of boats, I got chatting to one of the crew members – who I later found out was called Chrissie. It turned out she had never sailed big boats before, but had heard about the Clipper Race during a visit to the London Boat Show. Having undertaken the full training, she was going to be sailing a couple of legs of the 2017-18 race. I mentioned to my teenage daughter that one day she could do this race (she’d had previously loved sailing with Sea Scouts).
Chrissie went on to tell me that her team was ‘Visit Seattle’ and their Skipper was the 24 year old English woman, Nikki Henderson.
“Great, I’ll follow you and see how you get on” I said.
The race started on Sunday 20th August 2017 and I watched it on Facebook. I then started following the Race Viewer on the Clipper Race website to see how ‘Visit Seattle’ were doing. In addition, my lunch breaks were taken up reading the daily blogs from the skippers and crew.
After 6 weeks or so I mentioned to Mike, my husband, how it
looked amazing; and how I’d love to do something like that.
“Go for it!” he
“No, it’s too expensive and I’ll never get a place”, was my
rather cautious response.
Nevertheless, with Mike’s encouragement I sent off my application form. To my delight I was offered an interview at the Clipper Race HQ in Gosport. Della, who interviewed me, had done the race previously and told us all what we could expect – the good and the bad. It was pretty surreal to take a tour around one of the training boats!
You can’t imagine my excitement on the 4th December
2017, when I received the email saying my application had been successful.
So here we are, 20 months later. I’ve completed 3 weeks of training so far (more of which in other blogs to come) and have wholeheartedly loved every second of it.
I’ve met some amazing and truly inspiring people from all corners of the world. Although it is fair to say my family are extremely bored of me talking about Clipper, with over 12 months still to go until I sail my leg. Much to their dismay, we also had to cook on our camping stove for 6 months; because I’d spent the money for our new (much needed) kitchen on sailing. Needs must!
As I write this, we’re only 3 weeks away from Crew Allocation – an important event in the build up to the race starting later this year. Crew allocation reveals the team you will sail for, as well as who your skipper is. So, with that date in my calendar, suddenly the Clipper Race is feeling more like reality as the race draws closer. The prospect of this is equally terrifying and exciting, as I prepare for the Race of My Life.
Occasionally in life you meet someone who changes your life completely. My husband Mike for instance. He was only visiting the UK from South Africa when we met. He ended up staying, marrying me and having two beautiful daughters, Jess and Emily.
Chrissie Jackson has also undoubtedly changed my life. I met Chrissie in the Albert Docks, Liverpool. It was the day before the start of the 2017-18 Clipper Race. We got chatting and she told me she’d never sailed big boats before signing up for the race. Having completed the intensive Clipper Race training, she was planning to complete part of the race.
After only a couple of months of following her team and
reading the blogs on the Clipper website, I felt so inspired I applied for the
2019-20 race. The rest, as they say, is history.
It was a delight to follow Chrissie on her Clipper
adventure. Her blogs were honest yet still full of joy. Unfortunately, just
before she was due to sail across the Pacific, she was taken ill with a blood
clot and hospitalised in China. This marked the end to Chrissie’s race.
Despite this we met again in Liverpool, this time at the end
of the race. Her pure spirit and vivacity shone through as she celebrated the
triumph of her team, Visit Seattle, who claimed 2nd place overall.
20 months after my Clipper journey first began, Chrissie continues to inspire me. In January 2019 she was told the devastating news that she has stage 4 metastatic cancer.
In true Chrissie style and with a big smile on her face, she has begun Chrissie’s Sunshine Appeal. Her aim is to raise as much money as possible for charities and good causes close to her heart, in and around Cornwall – as well as persisting to find and spread as much sunshine as she can.
It is undeniable
that Chrissie has already spread so much light and positivity, but I would like
to thank her personally. She inspired me to pursue a dream, to adapt to difficult
situations with determination, and to spread joy despite hardship. I look
forward to sailing with her in the future.
Thank you Chrissie.
Chrissie sadly died in July 2021 and is sorely missed by everybody who knew her. Chrissie’s Sunshine Appeal has raised over £60,000. I will be thinking of her as I race across the Atlantic.
I have mentioned before the influence something seemingly small can have on my life, and my love of gardening is no exception. Looking back on over 50+ years it is a comfort to me that gardening has always been present. Some of my most joyous childhood memories include helping my Grandad with his veg plot at the bottom of my grandparents garden.
About 12 years ago I was listening to the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2. One of his guests was Welshman, Terry Walton who was talking about his allotment. (An allotment is a plot of land that you rent for an small annual fee). This one discussion on the radio was all the inspiration I needed.
Within a week I contacted my local Allotment Association and after 2 months on the waiting list I was offered a plot, complete with a rather eccentric but marvellous shed made of recycled doors. I’ve been hooked ever since; and now spend as much time as possible tending to my fruit and vegetables (and weeds!) that I’m growing organically.
My allotment has always been a happy place for me. A sort of
sanctuary where I can escape the stress of working full-time and raising two
teenage daughters. Plot 10 holds a lot nostalgia for me and my family; of long
hot summer days picking fruit and harvesting food to cook at home. There is
something soothing about growing your own food and reminiscing about happy
memories forged on our small plot of land.
There are similarities between working on my allotment and
sailing. Both get me closer to the natural world in all its glory. Both also
teach me that you can’t control Mother Nature, you just have to learn how best
to work with her. Another similarity is that things won’t always be easy and
run smoothly. I’ve learnt from yields of less than successful crops, that the
key is to keep trying.
Gardening is also a great form of exercise. I’m hoping the 40 barrow loads of cow manure that I moved down to my plot a couple of months ago helped to build up my core strength. Even if the smell took some getting used to.
While I’ve been out at sea training for the Clipper Race there have been times when I’ve experienced the same wonderful feeling of inner calm – even though I’ve never sailed before, and I’m on a very steep learning curve. Sailing has the same peaceful effect as being outside on my allotment, rain or shine.
But enough of the writing. Spring is always a busy time of year for my allotment and greenhouse at home, but this year I am excited to get away for a week of Level 3 training. Lets just hope my family remember to water all the seedlings whilst I am away!