We are hanging around at Southend – just stemming the tide and going nowhere. When all 12 yachts are here we will head up the Thames in convoy. At least one passing ship has radioed to ask what is going on, seeing seven 70 foot yachts puttering about in the early morning must be quite unusual, even around here
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Right now it's Thursday afternoon – it's been a typical English August sailing morning, with rain and drizzle as we tack past Dungeness. But at least there's wind, something we saw precious little of over the previous 2 days.
After leaving the Solent, we sailed towards the Cherbourg peninsula. After dinner we finally split into watches, this time I'm on starboard watch, and we went to our bunks at 8pm, waking up for the graveyard watch from midnight to 4pm. In light winds and bright moonlight we sailed gently towards our mark near Barfleur. Maaike and Chris are in charge of the navigation this trip, and had some figuring about tides to,do, as the mysterious,light-house on our starboard bow eventually became the one we were looking for on our port bow, and we went back to our bunks leaving Port watch to make the actual mark rounding.
Up again at. 8am, it was a glorious blue morning, with challenging light winds, each little zephyr making cat's paws on the water. We had passed CV23 in the night – they must have been very confused when due to an accidental tack when the wind was so light we could neither point high nor tack back around, we passed them again, going in the opposite direction!
At least the calm weather gave us a chance to catch up on some of our preparation. – after 2 days we are beginning to have a semblance of order in the galley, and especially in the heads with our soap and hand sanitizer dispensers in place, and the one for sunscreen in the saloon. Maaike was able to get on with splicing and other bosun tasks, I finally finished the sheet bags (if only I'd known the bungee was supposed to go INSIDE the new canvas reinforcement), while Meg worked on organizing the galley, and James worked on various engineering tasks. Four out of five round the worlders are in starboard watch, and there is definitely a tendency to get on with our other jobs when the sailing is so slow it”s almost non-existent!
It's easy to lose track of the days – even on such a short trip as this. But Tuesday night/Wednesday morning brought a full moon, calm seas, and clear skies. Seeing the sun rise in the east as the full moon faded in the west was ample compensation for getting out of our bunks at 4am:
Will we eventually get bored with dawn and sunrise at sea? I hope not…
So we did eventually leave Gosport on Monday afternoon – it was quite exciting with a proper start line and a helicopter buzzing around overhead – all the crews were hard at work and there was some close quarters sailing around the line and on the way out of the Solent. I couldn't tell you who won the start – I know a couple of the least ready boats didn't even try to get there on time.
Our sailplane was a bit crazy – we wanted to raise the Yankee 2, but because the Yankee 1 was on top of it (you'd have to see the amount of stuff that is currently stuffed into this boat to believe it) we went with the Big One instead. All fine until the wind increased and we had to switch to the Y2 after all. All the sails are so new and the fabric is stiff and slippery, everything is twice as difficult as it was with the training sails. And the Y1 weighs over 200 kilos, if I remember correctly. Getting it down turned into quite a battle – to prove it the sail is now stained in several places with James' blood. Somehow the thing got twisted around, and we even had the had trailing in the water at one point. It must have taken an hour for us to get it dragged back to the cockpit, untwisted, flaked in its bag, and below decks. The wind had increased while we did all that, and Eric said there was no hurry to raise the Y2. When the Y1 battle was finally over (with some crew voting that we never get it out again!) Eric said we could either put up the Y2 then put in a reef in the main, or continue with full main and staysail. I guess we must be a lazy lot as we voted for the do nothing option.
Hmm – we still seem to have a way to go before we become at crack race crew we'd like to think we are – I hope we eventually get there!
So as it turns out, we did not actually depart for London today – we went out on to the river to practice our parading, ready for the Thames:-
With our mainsails up and engines o e, our skippers practiced keeping in line, exactly one boat length apart. Four boats peeled off and pretended they were passing under Tower Bridge, then all 12 of us paraded back again.
It was good to be out on the boat at last, after.a full week of work and preparation. All we crews had to do was,sit in a tidy row,on e high side, wearing our red jackets and waving to the cameras. not too hard!
After the parade we refueled, ready for the delivery cruise. We had to wait our turn, after team GB, which meant we were the last boat back and all getting quite cold as the sun set. Unfortunately, when we docked, David C's finger was pinched by a dock line, causing a painful injury and a trip to the local ER. As I type this at 11:50pm, they have still not returned to the boat, so of course crew morale was pretty low at the end of our first “sailing” day as team Henri Lloyd. Let's hope for better things tomorrow…