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Clipper: Welcome aboard [May. 19th, 2009|03:46 pm]


First evening on the boat. I’ve been assigned to Black Adder Clipper (hopefully we’ll be better at sailing than its namesake and Baldrick were when they attempted to make it to America. I’m not sure I want to try drinking my own urine).

This is one of the older Clipper boats that went around the world three or so races ago. It’s 8ft smaller than the Clippers we’ll be racing on and with 12 people on board it’s pretty tight for space.

We have a crew of 10 – six men and four women – plus a skipper and a mate, both of whom originally circumnavigated in previous races. Simon Bradley, our skipper and instructor, was a round-the-world crew member in 2000-01 and by 2007-8 he was skippering one of the yachts.
On board we have Mike, Caroline, Callipso, Chris, Ian, George, Tom, David, Pele and me. Ian and David have come over from Australia for the training course and Pele flew in from Singapore today. A couple are hoping to do the full 10 months and 25,000 miles but most people have only committed themselves to a leg or two. We’ve had a tour of the inside of the boat, from the “cheese pit” rope locker in the forepeak (so-called because it starts to reek after a while. I’m not finding the jokes about the media bunks being in there very funny), through the middle where the bunks are – some are triple bunks and I’ve already been warned that Mike, whose head will be back-to-back with mine, snores! The floor is covered in sails and it’s like walking on a bouncy castle.

We’ve checked the engines, had a look at everything on deck, cooked a curry for 12 people, washed up and assigned watches. The cooker is gas and has four rings but with pans the size we have to use when cooking for 12 people, you can only fit two on at a time. The boat has already been victualled (stocked with food) and apparently we’re running on a budget of £3.50 per person per day. Less than the price of a Pret sandwich for three meals but we’re certainly not going to starve – there’s fresh fruit and veg, bread, rice, pasta, noodles, sausages, meat, cheese, eggs, porridge, biscuits, crisps, chocolate bars, tea, coffee, Marmite, golden syrup. But no fridge… Ten crew equals two watches (groups) of five, plus two people each day doing “mother watch”, which means waking everyone up at half six and then feeding all 12 of us three times a day.

We’ve also had the bejeesus scared out of us by Simon warning about fire, flood, plague and pestilence. We thought we’d signed up for something fun, not the four horsemen of the apocalypse.