A week of ‘should have beens’

Firstly, I want to announce the winner of my quiz. The lucky winner gained a score of 22/30 and will receive a book about the maritime origins of everyday expressions, which is currently wending it’s way to them on the Isle of Wight. Congratulations Lenka!

In many ways it feels very apt that Lenka should win the quiz as I went to visit her on the Isle of Wight straight from my initial Clipper application interview in Gosport in September 2017. We sat up till very late drinking too much wine and binge watching previous editions of the race on DVD, because Lenka also shares my passion for boats and the sea, having been a member of Ocean Youth Club (as it was called) back in the day. We were both enthralled by the exhilarating footage of huge seas and exposure to storms at night. Lenka mused that were she not a mum, then she too would like to sign up to the race, but then both agreed she is blessed to share her life with her special daughter. So happy reading Lenka and thank you to all of you who took the trouble to submit your quiz answers.

This week has been an especially difficult one emotionally for me as every day of my diary has had an entry for a Clipper race-related commitment at Seattle’s Bell Harbour marina; be it a refresher sail, crew registration, onboard crew brief with my team mates and Skipper and today…Well today, I would have hugged my husband for the last time from the pontoon that Punta del Este was moored to and stepped aboard at 11am in order to be ready for slipping the mooring lines for a ceremony at noon and parade of sail. This is a marker at the start of each race, which I have avidly watched via Facebook live for all the previous legs. Dave and I were going to take off our wedding rings and replace them with symbolic silicone ones (so that I reduced my chances of a nasty injury whilst using the winches over the coming months!). He’d also written me a song in honour of this moment called ‘Sailing Free’. So today, instead of stepping aboard Punta del Este and separating for 3.5 months in Seattle, we are very much together reflecting on a few ‘should have beens’ at home. We decided to mark this day by Dave performing his song on camera. I hope you enjoy the song (it has a catchy chorus to sing-a-long with).

My husband performing this song he’d written to mark the eve of my part in the Clipper race 2019-20. Performed at home in Bristol, England, on the day and hour we were meant to be saying our last goodbye to each other on a pontoon in Seattle before I embarked Punta del Este for Legs 7 & 8 of the race.

Even if I can’t physically be on the ocean tonight, I shall be imaginatively transported there. It’s canny timing (again) that at 6pm GMT tonight, Sarah Outen is giving a free online talk about her experience of 500 days alone ocean rowing. Given that Sarah’s books about her cycling, kayaking and rowing adventures inspired me to re-apply to Clipper in 2017, I can’t help but think it is very apt she’s giving this lecture tonight; marking what would have been my first night on the Pacific ocean aboard Punta del Este. So if you’d like to hear her talk too, then you can watch it here.

Tomorrow is a new day and also a new chapter in the Changing Tack adventure story. Until the close of today I have been living my life in lockdown in full knowledge of many ‘should haves’, but as of tomorrow, there are none. My diary is empty for the rest of 2020, because I was to be offshore. Off air. Beyond reach. Jumping off into a huge unknown, trusting that it would all be OK and things would work out one way or another. I had no plans beyond returning from the race safe and sound in around 60 days time into the embrace of my husband. So it’ll be quite a relief tomorrow to finally wake up to a new chapter where my life at home under lockdown finally matches what the experience of crewing in the race would have demanded; to just try to go with the flow in the face of great unknowns, make the most of each moment for what it is or brings and know that there will be great challenges ahead, but also beautiful moments too. I think that’s what life in lockdown asks of us all too.

If you’ve been reading my blog, thank you for being part of the journey and contributing to the story as it unfolded. Remember that whatever circumstances you find yourself in right now, an adventure awaits. Take care. Stay safe. Be strong.

I received this beautiful pin badge through the post yesterday from a good friend and work colleague who wanted to remind me that although “the world and their plans have been utterly turned on their head, I’m sending you this to remind you that good times are ahead…It’s a reminder that the world will continue after this pandemic and who knows where you’ll be and what you will do. Life is for living.”

(Don’t) Miss the Boat

Idiom: to fail to take advantage of an opportunity.

Remember life before COVID-19? Back in those days I had a BIG plan for today. Today was the day I was catering for 35 friends who would join me at the Benjamin Perry Scout Hut in Bristol for my Race Departure Party. Dave had produced a nautical themed playlist and I had written a quiz for the early part of the evening to be enjoyed with rum and a hearty buffet of home-cooked food.

The party invite I had sent out to friends over New Year 2020.

Today also sees in the start of British Summer Time. We would have lost an hour’s sleep upon waking up tomorrow, but I saw that as auspicious and entirely apt for life at sea.

This is where I should have been partying tonight on the harbourside.

Rather than get in the doldrums about it, I thought it would be a homage to all my husband and I were looking forward to by sharing his playlist and inviting you to do the quiz. You have until the 30th April to send me your answers using the contact form on this blog. I will announce the winner on the 2nd May, which would have been the start of Leg 7 racing from Seattle aboard Punta del Este.

The winner will receive a copy of this book, which I am happy to post anywhere in the world in the spirit of adventure and dreams of circumnavigating the globe under sail; if I can’t, at least the book can!

A copy of this book is up for grabs if you’re the lucky winner of the quiz below!

Just promise me you don’t cheat, because, after all, it would be far too easy to simply Google the answers if you don’t know them already. I also encourage you to enjoy doing this quiz whilst listening to some of the tracks from Dave’s playlist below and pouring yourself a rum if you’re lucky enough to have access to any under lockdown!


  1. In what year did the first Clipper round-the-world yacht race start?
  2. Who founded the Clipper round-the-world yacht race?
  3. Which legs of the race was I competing in?
  4. Name all the port cities or locations I would have been visiting in the race, including the city I was to set out from? (There are 6, so 1 point for each correct answer)
  5. Ocean-racing involves fast, responsive deck work as a team with each crew member assuming a specific role. Which of the following deck roles is the fake one? a) Bowman b) Lugger c) Grinder d)Helm
  6. What is the image on the hull of the yacht I was meant to be racing aboard?
  7. In what country is the coastal city of Punta del Este to be found?
  8. What is the country of birth of my team’s Skipper?
  9. In what year did the construction of the Panama Canal begin?
  10. What is a toilet called on a boat?
  11. What is the name of the inlet of the Pacific Ocean that I would have sailed along upon departing from Seattle?
  12. What is the name of the very large sail flown at the bow of a yacht in light airs?
  13. Is Bermuda part of the Caribbean?
  14. What is the term for the watch who are assigned to cook meals and clean below decks?
  15. What was the city of New York formerly known as?
  16. In what year did it become known as New York?
  17. What is a lee cloth?
  18. What do crew clip their 3-way safety tethers to when working on deck?
  19. What festival was scheduled to take place during the Derry-Londonderry stopover?
  20. Name the three corners of a sail. (1 point for each correct answer)
  21. What is the longest pleasure pier in the world?
  22. Which of these knots cannot be used as a stopper knot (stopping the end of the rope pulling through a hole)? a) Figure of Eight b) Admiralty c) Sheet Bend
  23. Which of these is not found on the deck of an ocean racing yacht? a) Cockpit b) Snake pit c) Pulpit d) Sand pit
  24. Sailing involves learning a huge amount of technical or maritime language. For example, a rope is NEVER called a rope! So, what is the name of the rope (line) that is used to hoist or drop a sail?
  25. What is the name of the rope (line) that is used to control the trim of a sail?

Dave made a playlist for tonight’s party. Here are some of my favourites, if you fancy listening to them whilst working through the quiz questions.

The La’s – Liberty Ship

Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues

Tom Waits – Shiver Me Timbers

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Lee Shore

Fairport Convention- A Sailor’s Life

…If you have any nautical themed tunes you want to share with me then please do make suggestions using the comments box below.