Level 3 training...mostly
Level 3 done yikes! A bit of an anti-climax this time but mostly because I was viral and it all seemed to go by in a flash (5 days in total, with sixth day for deep clean). The wind was flat for the first couple of days, and unfortunately so were my energy levels. Despite this, the skipper and mate were fantastic; the best combo thus far! Mik was a gentleman with impeccable knowledge of the 70s and was brimming with top tips that would help keep us safe on our races. Each skipper comes up with unique and individual catchphrases...Mik's was 'there's no sex on the boat' - no gender as well as the other stuff! Dan, the mate, was like an eager puppy, with boundless sailing enthusiasm, a propensity for shorts no matter what the weather and culinary flair! The latter led me to put ON weight despite my best efforts (err...okay so I did get through whole packets of Jaffa cakes when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself), but meals we enjoyed (mostly cooked by him, in contrast to previous levels where the crew cooked...pasties and beans all round) included Thai green chicken curry, chorizo and sausage pasta and mushroom chow mien.
The week started off in the classroom with an offshore safety course, which was a pleasant way to ease back into the 'sailing mindset' and the foreign language that is sailing terminology. We covered the safety equipment on board the boat, as well as recapping on stuff like the Beaufort scale, EPIRBs, AIS and hypothermia. The next day we pottered around in port doing drills (ready to tack, runners back) as the wind was non-existent. It was good to familiarise ourselves with the 70s as the layout makes it feel like a different boat to the 68s (see my video below). For a start I noticed that my stuff wasn't damp, as the sails stayed in the locker, rather than the floor. The bunks are spread throughout the boat, rather than all being at the bow...I requisitioned the one next to Skipper, which is right next to the nav station. There isn't really a quiet spot on the boat to be honest, so sleeping aids eg.ear plugs are a must on the race (top tip - I found these wax moulding ones from Boots which were amazing and blocked out the usual symphony of snores)...I slept really well on the boat from night one...not sure if that's just because I was exhausted from the cold virus/sailing combo.
Level 3 definitely felt shorter, as we had 3 days out on the water by the time we set sail from Gosport. The wind picked up towards the end, and we were rewarded on the last day with endorphin boosting, beautiful, crisp spring sunshine. We covered a lot which felt familiar...tacking, gybing, using foreguys...but then came the mind-boggling spinnakers. We managed to get the wind seeker up twice and the Code 2 spinnaker. It's an impressive sight to see them up...and I finally get why they're called kites, as they're not attached at the luff of the sail. The letter-box drop faff and getting them back down seems like a huge palaver, and sometimes I do think, why bother with the things (don't tell Sir Robin)!!! What a joy 'wooling' is (not)...
We came into port every night, and spent Sat night at the Anchor Inn in East Cowes (I always try the local Mermaid Gin), but partying on this level was limited by my man flu.
Other stuff...the Clipper race 19-20 skippers were announced during the week. I was a bit disappointed that they were all men, but apparently no women applied this time round!
In terms of my fundraising my total stands at £115. Slow start but I guess it feels like my leg is still a bit of a way off. I've visited a local venue as potential site of a charity fundraiser...and got Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to sign a copy of his book to auction off! It was his 80th birthday this week...Mic got to go to his party during our week. His birthday video montage was amazing with birthday wishes from Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Ben Ainslie. I hadn't appreciated what a big deal he is because I didn't know much about sailing before I started Clipper training, but it is remarkable how much energy and dynamism he has...I'm half his age with a fraction of his drive...still I guess that's what got him round the world...the first man to do it solo. Happy birthday Sir Robin!