And I arrive safely in Sydney

I have been in Sydney now for 4 days and have completed the deep clean (very messy!) and many of the maintenance tasks resulting from the trip around from Fremantle and the prep for the Hobart race starting on Boxing Day.

I am only now able to piece together my thoughts on those 3000 odd miles of the Southern Ocean. I am sitting in my Airbnb in Sydney which I share with 5 of my crew colleagues and decided a good place to start would be to try to get into the festive mood by getting out the Christmas tree (see the picture above – it’s the one on  the lamp base!) we put up in the boat a week ago and to open my Christmas card from Mary both which she smuggled into my luggage as I left the UK nearly a month ago.

I am having problems doing this – it is strange for me not to be able to pour out my thoughts in words so I apologise if this blog appears disjointed and unstructured – so here goes.

How do I describe the most amazing collection of experiences all rammed together in a never ending stream?  How do you put across the range of emotions we went through? Fear? Exhaustion? Amazement? Stupidity? Exhilaration? Success? Failure? Insignificance? Teamwork? Wonder? ……….

The highlight must be “The Most Surreal Night of my Life” as described in a previous blog – a massive high which will stay with me for the rest of my life.

My low point must have been the realisation that my technical (sailing) skills significantly lacked those required to properly support the other members of my watch and the problem of  poor balance when the boat is rocking around like a bucking bronco.  Skills gradually improved but I do not think I’ll ever be able to move around the boat speedily in those conditions but feel better now I have discussed it with my watch mates.

Life aboard is relentless, “sleep, eat, sail, sleep, eat, sail……..” sums it up perfectly.  There is little time for anything else and we all very carefully manage our time to ensure we maximise our sleeping time – more of this coming in a later blog. This cycle is an absolute grind and rules everything about life on board. We only had 15 days and I hate to think what it must have been like on the other longer legs. It rules the mind, it rules the body and it rules the soul. 4 hours on, 4 off, 4 on, 6 off, six on, 4 off, 4 on, 4 off, 6 on, 6 off…… never ending.

Emotions get layered across everything else.  You are feeling low because you made a stupid mistake and let the team down. Exhaustion because of seven sail changes in one 6 hour watch.  Sleep avoiding me for some unknown reason . Can’t be late for watch handover, can’t go to bed yet as there is a spinnaker to wrap, team meeting going on longer than I want and sleeping time being eaten into.  Where did I put my head torch? OH NO, my socks are still,soaking wet. Missing family, someone is being a prat – hope it isn’t me.

Just got the latest position report and we have slipped down the field – again!  Why can’t we go faster? Where are we failing as a team?

Aargh! we hit a whale – god, that must have hurt!  Those dolphin are playing with us – aren’t they just beautiful! There is a flying fish – really didn’t know they were quite so big!  A “super moon” just in time to light up the spinnaker as our trimming torch runs out of battery. Sunrise after a boring night watch – quite unbelievable.

Wind holes for 20 hours, force 10 storm through the night which was not forecast, relentless beat up the eastern coast of Tasmania for 3 days heavy work with little progress in return.

Friendships growing and happily not too many conflicts on board.  We begin to trust one another and recognise what we each bring to the watch.  Skills improve and the Round the Worlders can gradually hand over some of the basic tasks.  We did not see Conall for a complete watch – he must be starting to trust us. (but he was downstairs listening to our every move- just in case we hear later)

Mountainous seas where we are clinging on for dear life.  Flat calms where the life is bliss!  Life at 45 degrees is interesting!  How do you manage to go to the loo successfully – but we do! Why does the day’s cook have to smother everything in hot chilli sauce – again?  Oh no, another tack, I’ll have to tighten up the strap holding me from falling out of bed.

And so it goes on “sleep, eat, sail, sleep, eat, sail”

But I’m on dry land now and can only try to start to put it into perspective. Well, that’s not really working as you can see so let’s think about something else.

Happy Christmas everyone!

And a huge thank you to all those that are supporting me on this adventure – may you have a great festive season  and don’t forget the race viewer on Boxing Day as I start on on of the world’s most famous boat races – “The Sydney/Hobart”   Am I looking forward to that one!

9 thoughts on “And I arrive safely in Sydney

  1. Hi Robin. Keith and I are watching your progress with admiration, to say the least! We also love receiving your blog telling us about the highs and lows – not just on the ocean! We both wish you a very happy Christmas and very good luck in the Hobart race. Did Mary tell you that very good friends of ours, Rory and Sue Barnes are related to your skipper , by marriage, and we were discussing your race in Zizzis in Camberley, and discovered the amazing coincidence! Hang in there Robin. You are going to have a great book to write when you get back!! Love Keith and Jacqui xx

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  2. Dear Robin,
    How do you do it?? You are an absolute star to be doing all those amazing things. You describe it all so well too… we are there with you in spirit!

    Good luck with the Sydney to Hobart race… we will watch your progress with great interest and hope that you can keep up to the front of the pack.

    Happy Christmas and keep very safe,

    Sally x

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  4. Hi Robin,

    A slightly tardy note, having read your blog a couple of days ago. I think your note brilliantly and honestly captured what the first leg of your big adventure felt like and gave a great insight into the realities of life on board. It does sound pretty relentless, and there can’t be many other activities which send you across the full spectrum of emotions with such huge highs and lows in such a short space of time. I was looking at the supermoon at the same time as you, in NZ not too far east of you and it was truly spectacular. The stars at night when you have no light pollution are amazing from Golden Bay and it must have been even more impressive from your vantage point on the ocean.

    Having returned a week ago for Christmas, Ailsa and I will be heading back to the Southern Hemisphere on Jan 19th in just under 4 weeks time and we’ll be following your adventures with great interest. We are getting together with Wilf and Jan in Lewes in ten days time and looking forward to hearing all about the race from Jan.

    Have an enjoyable Christmas, despite the preparations for departure on the 26th, and hope the next leg goes well. Having viewed the start of the Sydney/Hobart from a boat on the harbour a few years ago, we’ll have a very good idea of what the scene will look like on the 26th.

    Very best wishes, Richard

    >

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  5. Well Rob – Really great to see you and the Aus Family – They all look beautifully well- what a tonic for you for the next leg- where is your next stopover – we will be will you in mind – you have now discovered Ist hand what ocean sailing is all about – So now the mind’s anxieties of the unknown will have become less of a bother – you have now ‘proven beyond doubt to yourself how strong your body & mind is under the stresses of ocean sailing – walking down Frimley high st will never seem the same again – my most memorable moment was 3am force 7-8 all hands on deck – up in the Royals – squinting salty eyes at 125ft collecting sheets – Thanking God for Harnesses – Rob U R Top Guy – ‘Go with the Flow Pro’ – Mikal

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  6. All the very best Robin for the Sydney/Hobart race – we shall be following you! Hope the seas are a bit kinder too! Have a good Christmas Day and all the very best for the next leg.
    With our love – Terry ‘n Mags.
    p.s. we shall raise a glass on your birthday too!

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  7. We are going to have to call you Relentless Robin! Good luck from Boxing Day – enjoy being a landlubber in the interim. Keep up the blog- really honest and insightful.
    Neil

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  8. Greetings
    I have so much admiration for what you are doing – at our age too! Happy Birthday for 8 days time (Do the crew know it’s your special day?)
    Enjoying your blogs.
    With love Coralx

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