All at sea on another Level 1

Having just returned from another Level 1 training course which was absolutely brilliant, mostly as a result of such a special crew. With three of us standing in as additional crew Damian, Alec and me, we had but 5 fresh crew members. Damian was testing his knee after a long absence and operation before going onto his Level 3. Alec with an extraordinary military career as medic in the navy and well travelled.

The rookies all had powerful stories of their lives. Duncan, a professional hunter from South Africa has a hankering for extreme sport, wild animal translocations to the Pilanesberg including elephant. Climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Racing the Yukon a totally self-supported, paddle of 1000 miles from Canada into the Alaskan backcountry finishing in the Arctic circle. Trips to both the North and South poles. Susie had visited around 120 different countries. Sophie a zoologist has gone solo in gliders. Leo had spent time in both St Helena island and South Africa. Matthew a wreck diver and oil well head component manufacturer looking to sell up and do the race. All completely intoxicating to listen to.

Skipper David an engineer designing cars in Detroit and Germany along with Mate Euan who thought sailing in shorts mad when he sailed the wet and windy coast of Scotland headed the intellectual property department. They complimented each other well, David with his engineering hat and Euan in his slow gentle style.

Taking a back seat as much as possible to allow the new crew to experience Level 1 in their own way, I found the second bite at the cherry very mellow and not nearly as hectic as the first time, perhaps I’ve learnt something and am beginning to find my sea legs. Sleeping well each night in the relatively comfort of the 68 coffin bunks in the ‘ghetto’ and able to sit up in the top one without bashing my head on the deck was a treat. Interestingly we emptied two buckets of water from the bilges each morning from our combined condensation.

We spent a night at East Cowes Marina, a change from the now familiar Cowes Yacht Haven made for a very enjoyable stay. The facilities and restaurant were a treat to shower at and the pub, open and spacious with relaxing atmosphere. Of course the wide selection of cider had a part to play.

On the first day we stayed nestled against the pontoon running drills and man overboard exercises as the gusty conditions weren’t conducive to sailing. The rest of the week we had light winds and some rain. I spent a good deal of time at the helm and feel that this might become my happy place on the race. There is a great deal to learn about trimming and on the helm in order to become race competent but I guess I have 11 months on my side.

Bumped into Kate, Charlie and Marie. Previous skipper and mate Jacob and Anna in the Castle at various times. Good to see them all again and share in the aspirations of sailing the seven seas.

Wednesday is the day I get over six vaccinations followed immediately by Level 4 training with our race skipper, Guy. So far I know of only six fellow race crew we’ll sail with, the balance to be filled by the enemy.

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