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It's a big boat [May. 26th, 2009|11:55 am]


Part A of my training is finished, I've sailed 228 miles, including nine at night, have done a bit too much "bonding" with my Black Adder crewmates in the pub, and deep cleaned a 60ft yacht (including lifting up all the floor boards and sponging out the bilges - not good with a hangover). Then I waved goodbye to my crew and moved over to a new boat and crew on one of the Clipper 68 yachts which will be sailing around the world.

So far six of the 10 boats have been sponsored and branded (Hull & Humber, Uniquely Singapore, Cork, Cape Breton Island, California and Qingdao). The other 10 are rather interestingly named Clipper Venture 1, Clipper Venture 2, etc. I'm on CV1, which has already circumnavigated two times, with skipper Matt Pike and mate Piers Dudin and a crew of 10 - Caroline, Melissa, Danielle, Kevin, Richard, Charles, Eddie and Pele and Ian (from Black Adder) – divided into two watches, aptly named Rolex and Cartier.

We are a mixed bunch, from a 17-year-old boy and a girl of 18 from the North who have won their places through the youth development organisation One Hull to 24-year-olds looking for inspiration on a gap year to older City workers looking to get out of the rat race in the recession.

Although this boat is only 8ft longer it is has a much bigger volume and is roomier inside. We feel like we’ve been allowed to move up from the kids’ table to join the adults. And there’s a stereo! If a bit of music in the evening is such a morale booster when you’re in a marina, imagine how fantastic it will be while we’re at sea.

The biggest difference is the deck - it's very flat and open with the snake pit, where the sheets and halyards come back to, in the middle, a long way from the helm. As the sails are so heavy and can exert massive loads on the winches, we’ve been playing with the coffee grinder. It’s a way of adding gears to the winches and sticks up on a pedestal in the middle of the boat with double handles on either side. Two crew stand opposite each other, facing into the centre, and rotate the handles together as fast as they can. There’s a special technique of having one of your hands on the inside of one handle and one on the outside of the other - pretty important to remember as otherwise you'd smack your foreheads together with every turn you made.

There wasn’t much wind when we went out today on CV1 for the first time. At one point we were doing 0.8knots (0.8 nautical miles per hour). And that’s speedy compared to the Doldrums, which crews crossing the Atlantic after the Cape Verde islands, the Indian Ocean on the way to Singapore and the Pacific on the approach to Panama, where the boats can not move for days or weeks at a time.