Silence…..

Silence…. At sea there is plenty of it and not much at the same time.

It’s amazing the number and volumes of the different sounds on the yacht. It’s one of the things that has surprised me, particularly the sounds of the water flowing under and around the hull. One the other hand, being so disconnected from daily life, the silence of the world can be very refreshing.

It’s been a while since the last update and boy has a lot happened since then! Things got really busy quite quickly around the middle of August when my new home for the year was finally delivered. They only problem was she was still short a few key components, like a mast, any form of sleeping arrangements, life rafts, ropes, and the million other things that turn what essentially was a floating bucket into an ocean going yacht.

Over the space of 5 days, we turned a building site into something we could be proud of and more importantly something we could safely sail across oceans. We’ll at least from Gosport to London. We then worked hard in London to make Dixie (the name wasn’t finalised until after Brest) ready for her first big journey down to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil via Brest, France. Of course there was a little partying to be had, and a taste for the crowds and interest there is in this amazing journey. It was quite humbling to have 100s of people watching and waving as the boats arrived in London and the race hadn’t even started yet. The official start a week later, would be almost unbelievable with the number of people lining the shores of the Thames to see us off.

The race from London to Brest (it seems like such a long time ago) was a little teaser with little breeze and lots of fog. It did allow us find our feet and start to develop a rhythm. With commitments and a timetable to meet, the race was cut short on 3 hours notice. This through all sorts of strategies into chaos and the results table could have gone any direction. We got lucky with a mid fleet position.

After a brief stop in Brest and plenty of fine French cuisine (mussels are the local speciality) we set sail for the third longest leg of the year, a mere 4,800 nautical miles (8,900 kilometres) or over twice the distance the average English sailor does in a year. Across two oceans (North and South Atlantic are considered separate) and through the doldrums we went. After 27 days and almost 5,500 nm under the keel two boats finished within 3 boat lengths (60 m) or 19 seconds. It was a very intense finish and could have gone either way, with the really close racing starting about 2 days before we actually finished. While second across the line, we were awarded first as we’d stopped racing to help another boat earlier in the race. The trip deserves several posts and a much larger exploration, which along with some photo’s will come.

I’ve been in Rio for 5 days now. It’s been a mix of celebrating, relaxing and preparing for the next race which starts in 12 or so hours now. It’ll be a different journey with a different type of sailing, different weather, and a different crew as several have left and been replaced with new faces. I’m looking forward to seeing the edges of the Southern Ocean and the large waves and wildlife it brings.

This was meant to be a quick update to say I’ve been quiet, due to being busy and at sea. However I have been jotting down notes and more stories will come, hopefully in a couple of weeks from Cape Town. Guess I got a little carried away, seems that talking about Clipper incessantly doesn’t stop after it’s started ;-)

While we are at sea there are daily blogs from the Skippers (here) and the crew (here), which I write occasionally. Also our team members do a great job of keeping the news coming via our Facebook page (here).

I trust you are all well, safe, and happy.
Mark