From CV25 to 3B

Contrary to what my diary informs me, I am not currently sailing CV25 between New York and Bermuda. The Clipper Race Committee anticipated that today would have been the start of the fleet’s arrival window into Royal Bermuda Yacht club. I would have set out from New York – the start of Leg 8 – five days ago and raced hard on the homeward leg. Hmmm… (I’m letting that thought sink in a moment and trying to imagine what that would feel and look like).

Ok, so instead, I have my feet firmly planted on terra firma and yesterday, after three-and-a-half year’s on the waiting list, I secured this little patch of overgrown land near my house on a council-owned allotment site.

Proud (if not a tad daunted) owner of Plot 3B.

It saddens me how neglected this plot has become as there are traces of former love and care to be uncovered under the prolific bind weed and brambles; like a vibrant purple clematis pictured above. I love that it is still flowering despite the overgrowth’s shady cover and the tendrils of suffocating bind weed.

I have uncovered the partial remains of a chicken coop, which one day I hope to re-populate with hens. There is a cherry, pear and apple tree that all require TLC, but at one time will have been invested in when they were first planted in the midst of time and the allotment association’s collective memory.

I disturbed a frog when I was clearing away brambles and I found one, lone and very stunted, raspberry cane when clearing some of the couch grass…little signs that at one time this was a cared for corner of earth. As it happens, I have no idea of the soil quality on this plot as I have yet to clear away enough growth to get a glimpse of what lies beneath. All in good time…This gardening project is going to take the same perseverance, time and effort as my preparation for the Clipper race did, I suspect.

Yesterday, not only did I officially acquire the status of ‘allotment holder’ (having given up my beloved plot 66B eight months ago thinking I’d be at sea this growing season), but I also took on another role with Youth Adventure Trust, who I have been volunteering with for the last three years. It’s a commitment like the allotment that involves nurturing, patience and care. Having had weeks of getting to grips with online video calls, meetings and classes, I am shortly to be assigned to a young person as their remote online mentor until mid October to manage their transition over the summer holidays and back into school in the autumn (fingers crossed!). I am a bit apprehensive if truth be told, as it’s more challenging to build rapport and trust exclusively online (as opposed to YAT’s face-to-face mentoring prior to Covid-19) but then I imagine the young person is probably apprehensive too.

So, I’m not currently racing towards Bermuda aboard CV25.

I’m on plot 3B planting better seeds instead.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.

Izaak Walton.

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I type this as 2019 has gone from being on my horizon to now being well and truly here! It’s the second week of January, mid-winter has now past, so we can all begin to anticipate the arrival of spring and lighter, warmer days to come. But I am also anticipating what 2019 will actually entail for me. At times it can feel quite overwhelming and sometimes very unreal, but I sense that very soon, it is all going to become VERY real.

Dave and I will head to Lord’s cricket ground (he’s very excited about that!) for our first official Clipper Race event on Saturday 19th January; an all-day Crew Brief where crew in the 2019-20 race will gather with their significant others (Crew Supporters) in much anticipation and excitement. All crew in attendance will get their photograph taken for the Clipper website and get the chance to meet each other… Who knows, we might even find out when exactly the race is due to start this year and from which UK port! There is much speculation among those crew I have already trained with during my Level 1 and Level 2 training weeks in 2018, but only time will tell who won the bet!

At this stage, all I do know for sure is that I am halfway through my Clipper Race training and set to crew in the last two legs of the race, which will take place in Spring/Summer 2020:

Leg 7

West Coast USA to East Coast USA (via the Panama Canal)

Leg 8

East Coast USA to Race Finish at a port in the UK

At this stage in the countdown to ‘Race Start’, Clipper are keeping very quiet as to which port cities of the world my two legs will encompass.

When I first applied for the Clipper Race back in 2017, my ambition had been to crew in the entire race as a Circumnavigator (or RTW’er – “Round the Worlder” – in Clipper Crew parlance), but my medical consultants soon put a stop to that dream (that’s another blog post for another day!).

So here I am, letting the reality of my part as “a legger” sink in and occasionally being amazed I’ve got this far at all!