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CLIPPER Diary 2005.

Byline: Jonathan Herod

E MADE it. We have finally arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia.

We arrived on December 17 at 1202 GMT which in "down under time" was 2002. We were greeted by the traditional Aussie BBQ and cold tinnies, which after our Southern Ocean experience was heaven. We arrived in sixth place and the winds were pretty light when we crossed the finish line - a far cry from some of the 70ft waves that we have experienced. Once again we pushed Liverpool 08 right up to the very finish, hot on Jersey's heels all the way and in the end there was only one hour between us. We are getting a reputation for this. We have had a very good race and this experience for me has been phenomenal. We did have plans for being in the top five finishers but this didn't go quite to plan this time. Over this past week we have had several plans. plan A which seemed to be going really well didn't work out quite as we hoped, but the ever optimistic brigade on L08 had plans B, C, D to fall back on. Last Wednesday, a couple of days before arrival, was difficult to say the least. I was lucky enough to be in my bunk and not on standby when I was awakened by the not so gentle thudding of my forehead against the bulkhead and a certain amount of consternation on deck. My brain was also telling me that planet earth seemed to have rotated approximately 90 degrees to lie on its side - most peculiar.

Now as you may have gathered, the All Stars (as starboard watch like to be called) have become used to this kind of thing when our comrades on Port watch are left to their own devices. The difference this time was that the main voice to be heard belonged to our skipper and if Tim sounds even the teensy-weensy bit worried you know something fairly major is happening. The standby crew were summoned bleary-eyed and somewhat bruised from their bunks whilst the rest of us bravely curled up into the foetal position and went back to sleep. Some even profess to have been completely unaware of events. We then emerged an hour and a half later to find our exhausted but jubilant crewmates who had survived two broaches, a reef and an emergency spinnaker drop. For those non sailors out there, down below deck could be equated to being in a washing machine on full spin.

I gallantly took the wheel and sat chatting to Peter at the stern as we raced across the ocean. Life was good, the surf was up, the stars were out and we were travelling at serious speeds undera huge bright full moon (almost full but it sounded better). It was one of those fantasticmoments that seem too good to be true and then life just turns round and kicks you in the teeth.

Was it Peter or was it me who saw it first? We couldn't really decide afterwards but we both had one of those time-stands-still moments of acknowledgement of fate and the inevitability of what was about to happen Our eyes met in surprise, acceptance, and even a little uncertain fear as it approached. No words were spoken - what would be the point? "It" was a wall of water that just was not supposed to be there and certainly I don't remember the scene in the script where in the space of a few seconds my world would be literally turned upside down as a rogue wave crashed over the stern of the boat. One minute we were two confident sea-faring chums with our roguish good looks careering along as lords of the seas. The next, we were two jellyfish in a washing machine on the kind of cycle designed to get out really tough stains. I was picked up, ripped from the wheel and deposited somewhere a few metres to my right in a torrent of icy salty darkness. Staggering to my feet like a boxer who has just survived a near knockout I managed to grab back the wheel from Peter and we somehow got back on course before Skipper came charging up on deck.

He took one look at us, smiled knowingly and said "oh yeah, you just got pooped!". He was damn cool in the circumstances, which is more than can be said for Peter and me, although we both agreed that the dry suits were a real success (make that a 20% discount Henri Lloyd). Two days before arrival into Fremantle, our repair team were still working flat out for the last push.

Liverpool 08 seriously race to the last minute! Spinnaker repairs continued in earnest with Vicki and Andi working around the clock in the saloon.

This makes eating, dressing, living in general awkward, but we have got used to everything being made as difficult as possible.

Tearing herself away from the newly repaired sewing machine (yes that broke as well and yes Keeno fixed it) Andi decided to hold an impromptu Xmas party with peanuts, walnuts, crisps and... wait for it.

Ferrero Rocher chocolates They didn't come with the pyramidal presentation of the ambassador's party and the guests were not quite so attractive but nevertheless Andi was really spoiling us. Hey, life ain't so bad after all
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 21, 2005
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