As we research and plan our Clipper adventure over those many months prior to actually getting on the boat in some faraway port there is one aspect that we all fail to take into consideration and that is the implication of the time we spend in port between races – and there is a great deal of it!
There are some things that are mandated by Clipper such as completing a thorough safety check and a defects log within 24 hours of arriving- failure to do so could result in us losing points which we obviously try to avoid at all costs. Others are more mundane such as The “Dreaded Deep Clean”!
As you might imagine, 17 people living on a 70ft boat for anything up to four weeks at a time does generate some pretty horrific living conditions especially when taking into consideration storms, excessive heat, living at 45 degrees and differing standards of personal hygiene! Interestingly, whilst at sea these things tend to get ignored but as soon as we arrive in port the first day is always spent doing the Deep Clean. And this means exactly what it says on the tin – everything, yes everything, comes off the boat right down to the floor boards and then all members of the crew simply get the scrubbing brushes out and clean it from top to bottom.
I am beginning to measure my Clipper Adventure progress by the number of Deep Cleans – so far I have complete 8 and have 2 to go and I am only half way through my two legs! (4 were done on the training weeks).
As we do the clean, logs are made of problems to be fixed; lost items suddenly reappear; excess items are thrown away and consumables replaced. This is a labour of love(!) and it takes all 17 of us 8 – 9 hours to complete. You can imagine the amount of beer that is consumed that evening!
We report defects to the Clipper maintenance crew who follow us from port to port and then cajole them to work with us to get them fixed. We are sure our standing rigging tension is loose and therefore we are unable to sail close enough to the wind than the other boats; we have leaks over two of the bunks so the occupants get wet; we want to get access to certain options on the plotters and radar electronics and many more.
A watertight door needs new seals; a spinnaker has lost some poppers and a few patches need applying to the Yankee; the victualler needs to plan, purchase and store 3 meals a day for 30 days for 17 people – but do we need extra in case we are late getting into our next location?
And then there are things we want to do to make our lives more pleasant. For instance, the next leg up to Sanya takes us right through the tropics and is going to be exceedingly hot and sticky – especially as we need to close all the hatches whilst beating into the wind. So, we have bought two large fans and modified them to hang in the sleeping areas. Let’s hope they can stand up to the battering they are going to receive in the next 4 weeks!
Another thing we note is that one of the other boats has installed an intercom system that allows the navigator down below to communicate directly with the helm so we bought one in the U.K. and one of the new leggers brought it out with her and this now needs to be installed!
All these things are normal when racing but what many of us failed to realise was the amount of time we spend in port between races and the associated implications. Fremantle I had two weeks, Sydney the same, eight days in Hobart and now 2 weeks in Airlie Beach. Each of these may be considered as a normal ‘annual holiday’ in their own right and these are not funded by Clipper. There is the option to stay on the boat but wherever possible crew prefer to sleep ashore – thank goodness for Airbnb!
During these stopovers we all tend to eat in cafes and restaurants which brings additional expense and then there is the problem of what to do with your free time?
Oh well, back to the pub to meet up with everyone! Not good for the liver or the wallet!