Into the Southern Hemisphere

Crossed the equator yesterday involving “King Neptune” doing unspeakable things to ‘first timers’ inc me !!

They say that water goes down the plug hole clockwise in the Northern hemisphere and anti in the Southern, so naturally I was fascinated to see what would happen exactly on the equator!! Is it just me ?? The only usable equipment to test this was the heads, needless to say the whole research project got horribly complicated and messy with frankly pretty unsatisfactory no results, more detailed research needed (by someone else hopefully!)

Life at 30 degrees is exhausting, this is now our 4th day at it, you have to hang onto EVERYTHING, we stagger around the boat like drunks hanging onto whatever they can find because the whole of the rest of the world is moving.

On deck it’s a bit easier except that you seem to spend most of the time looking straight down at the water whereas only a few days ago it was on the horizon!! Energy levels are low and if anybody does something that means you conserve just a little bit, then it’s a hugely valuable gift.

Still, we’re now cracking along at 10 + knots which is great fun as long as you hang on. There’s a real sense of getting somewhere, Rio is now 1300 miles away and we do 200 plus a day. Talk now often turns to the first thing we are going to do etc etc the main social activity appears to be to drink a lot of cold beer!!

Now.. the big question of the day… “SHALL RICARDO CRACK ON TO CAPE TOWN??”

I think anyone who is reading this should vote on it at the bottom of this post …there is a place on the boat, I’m not completely sure but there is something about the huge Atlantic rollers in the Southern Atlantic. They are bigger than London Buses and the hills and valleys swallow up the boat completely (not literally hopefully!) so the whole thing goes out of sight inc the mast.

Downside is cost, time, energy and will I get any more out of it that I haven’t already.

Still, sailing into Cape Town sounds pretty sexy to me !!



We’re Out!



Wrote this yesterday so a bit out of date ..


About yesterday morning we moved from a land with no wind to a land with some wind. A transitional place where slowly ‘wind’ v ‘no wind’ becomes more wind and slowly builds and builds. There are no lines or signs between the Doldrums and the ‘real’ world, just a slow transition.


At first the crew doesn’t quite believe it but constant winds reassure us that we have. We now live in a world of 30 degree angles. The wind is coming over our port side and will continue that way for at least 4 days. This is a topsy turvy world with what was floor in the doldrums is now wall and things that used to be above your head are now right in front of it.


Simply moving across the boat requires heroic acts of mountaineering. You daren’t let go of the boat even for one second, if you do you are throw to the other side of the boat in an instant.


Crew ‘belay’ themselves about the boat and a web of ropes that appeared magically. The only thing missing from this mountaineering scene is ice picks and sherpas!


I have a 5 hour shift rest, but I just can’t sleep, I just get pinned in a ‘v’ between my bunk and the wall, it used to be 90 degrees now its around 50. Surfaces that appear to be horizontal aren’t, it’s a trick of the eye, you put something down on it and it’s gone!


Still, we’re out.. !! and our strategy is working, us and the 2 other boats that followed us out East are now at the very front of the race.


We’re now getting 24 knots of wind, those to our West 10 -15, they must be mad as hell to see their lead evaporate and ours increase, now stars the straight drag race to Rio via the Equator, don’t think we’ll stop there for a swim though!!




R/Tr/D xx

Yet more doldrums…

The Doldrums get to you, that’s how it is. The name itself conjures up images of ancient mariners, lack of direction, feeling low and even tinges of madness. It’s this last one that interests me…


Whatever journey you are on over the sea the motion is incessant, it never stops and in a race the competitive element is there all the time.


So you are racing along and all of a sudden everything stops, you just sit there bobbing up and down like a rubber duck in the bath.


In the ‘other world’ outside the Doldrums we measure movement in nautical MPH in double figures, now it’s metres…now look for movement in metres, stealing whatever we can from the occasional sea breezes.


It’s the contrast … moods both personal and collective are directly linked to if the boat is moving or not. Great when we feel we are getting through it and when we’re not, “when will it ever end”.


It’s hot and humid and nothings happening, suddenly you understand how profound the phase ” in the doldrums” is. Still, we’re nearly through it and into the ‘outside world’ where the benign Southern Trade winds await us and we can measure in double figures again!


Next up… in the Doldrums vacuum the mind wanders, at least mine does, so some Doldrum fantasies to follow..”




Currently due west of Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria etc. on the bottom of the ear of west Africa. To our west is Trinidad and Tobago but miles away…


We passed the 2,000 mls to Rio point this afternoon but are still stuck in the bloody doldrums.


They run from 10 degrees North to around 6 degrees north but move and are currently moving South …as we are. What little wind there is are sea breezes and currently we just can’t head South so its either pretty well due West or East meaning we are not much closer to getting through it just going along it.. every metre gained is a result.. even through the whole area is around 250 N miles wide.


Ho hum, we need to get out of here, everyone knows that whoever exits first and gets to the Southerly Trade winds usually wins. Confidence waxes and wanes depending on how we are doing at the time.


Writing going well I’ve stumbled over a fairly good concept about the differing lifelines of several people on board have merged at this point and why.. I’m interviewing them and asking for total honest about why they are here and what their hopes for the future are now and then plan to ask them again in a years time – successes and failures etc. People are being very open and honest it’s good. No idea what I’ll do with it..


Bloody sat phone is next to useless and has now gone permanently engaged, plus I was the last to use it so may end up with a bill for 72 hours talk time!!!




Richard/ Tricky /Dad x


More doldrums…

The doldrums,the no mans land between the Great North Atlantic Depression which rotates clockwise and the Great South Atlantic Depression which rotates anti clockwise.

The result? everything comes to a grinding halt and the whole thing becomes as exciting as it sounds!!
The received wisdom is that the first boat that exits this zone wins and we are all close to the exit door. The trick is to enter this zone at the shortest point, obvious really, except that the whole thing moves around in a wave formation, so where you enter it today will not be where you’d enter it tomorrow. The other key is to use whatever breeze is available to inch forward, so suddenly instead of racing you are crawling and it demands even more concentration than in good winds with less obvious results.
So you sit in this windless place in temperatures of 40 degrees plus with such hugh humidity that you sweat just lying in bed. Everyone tends to get irritable, you have to be really careful…
We are now close to the exit, asssuming it hasn’t moved, and the reason we are on the Eastern side is that the forecasts say there will be slightly more wind this side of the exit than to the West where most of the other boats are. To a great extent you could start the race just North of the Doldrums because this is where it’s won or lost, 48 hours ago I was pretty confident about our strategy, now less so but I’m not sure why.
So, all will become revealed in the next 48 hours.

Next up… Ricardo’s straw pole amongst crew ” what fun things could you have done with the money if you hadn’t spent it on being completely exhausted!! Mine ?? I’d have a F*** off holiday with a bed, bar and someone who cleans the loo!



The Doldrums…

We’re not even there yet and have come to a grinding halt!
Temp inside boat is 38 degrees and as humid as hell, can’t do anything without breaking into a sweat.
The only wind comes from squalls that come cross the ocean, during one I decided to have a rain shower under the main sail, OK, I admit playing to the crowd a bit in that I got all lathered up, and then just as soon as it had started someone turned the rain off …to the huge amusement of all on board.
Still, a couple of hours later a huge squall came over and I got well rinsed.
All well

Love, your grain of sand xx

Musings from the back of the boat…

Musings from the back of the boat with my legs dangling in the surf created by the boat speed, wondering of there are any sharks around!

It’s the vastness and depth of this ocean that gets you.

I’ve crossed it countless times but never so ‘close up and personal’. Hour after hour, day after day of incessant motion. Forget about the boat or Clipper, focus on the raw power. Nothing but sea all around you, no land hazy in the distance, no otherboats, just Atlantic rollers, bigger than the boat, lifting you up and this time at least gently placing you down again. These are the trade winds, easy and benign.

The sea keeps relentlessly moving, the boat keeps moving, you can’t switch off even for a moment. Dolphins join us from time to time, racing and diving right next to the boat for the sheer joy of it. Flying fish hit the deck with an eerie thud, a remarkable example of evolution as they ‘hover’ over the sea.

At night, when the moon is out, it’s magical, phosphorescence streams off the back of the boat and last night shoals of luminescent squid like marine paparazza flash lime green.

You can’t help but turn your thoughts to the enormity and power of nature, God, mother earth or whatever your household Gods are, the sheer raw power of it.

Pointless wonderings are sparked, how many people on our planet? 6 Billion? …8 billion?? and if they were all in the North Atlantic how much space would there be between them? Say… 3 sq metres each and there’s 3,900 metres below them. 80 % of this planet is water. So how come we are steadily destroying it? Of course whatever we do we can’t; all we can do is make it uninhabitable for human beings. We can’t shatter it, just make it unusable and then over millennia nature will take on the long task of repairing it.

So you look at the stars, 1000’s more than you’ve ever seen, so bright in the Northern sky, where the Milky Way is so clear and you know that this planet is just one rock on a spiral arm of our galaxy which in itself is just one galaxy in millions in our known universe… it’s overwhelming.

Meanwhile back on earth we are just grains of sand in our own ‘galaxy’, with all our ridiculous hopes, dreams and fears. In the scheme of it just grains of sand on our amazing planet which in itself is a grain of sand in our galaxy and universe and that’s the beauty of it…

1 week in to race 2

Currently south of the entrance to the Med with Madeira, Canaries and Cape Verde ahead.


You can see how the fleet has split, some kept closer to the Portugese coast hoping for better winds, some west of us searching for same reason. Relatively the whole fleet is remarkably close which I guess is what happens if you all have the same boats!Strategy and concentration are the key variables.


Our strategy is to head downwind on a direct course to our waypoint, the shortest route. Those to the west of us are going faster but not in the right direction, so will have to zig zag downwind to get there.


We’ll see what strategy wins… Currently we’re 6th but hope to benefit later.


Our waypoint is a ‘scoring gate’lying just North of Cape Verde. There are 3, 2 & 1 extra points for those who go through it 1,2,3. Right now it’s 1000 mls away so approx 4 days away. London to Brest was 3 days and worth 12.11.10 points.


Life on board is cramped,!! 21 people living within 40 ft of each other.


Amazingly you hardly ever see the people on the other watch, just at watch changeover when no one wants to speak!


I hit a bit of a low point yesterday, the sheer effort and lack of sleep makes it pretty difficult to enjoy it and you think you should be!


I’m working on managing that and just accepting it, makes it hard to enjoy in the moment but I remembered Davina’s Rhys’s advice of when you are struggling, enjoy it through others around you.


Since writing we’ve now gybed and are going due South heading straight to the waypoint, the main reasons are we can steer straight there and the winds are predicted to slacken further West.




Dad / Richard / Ricardo / Tricky / Dick x

Off Portugal‏

Literally bashed our way though yesterday and last night.


35 knot winds, waves bigger than the boat coming from behind and we surfed down them. Our speed around 13 knots with peaks of 16. Fast !


Boat pitching all the time and a simple task of getting around the boat takes on a huge new level of effort as often the deck disappears from beneath your feet. Pouring water into a cup is total guess work as what appears to be a vertical line between kettle and cup is actually 30 degrees one way or the other.


I was ‘mother’ yesterday cooking and cleaning for 21, supposed to be two of us but my other ‘half’ was ill so it became almost impossible with pots and pans flying around all the time!!


We’re off Portugal about 190 mls away with Lisbon pretty well due East, Race info last updated at 6.00 put us at 8th, measured from Rio, but that takes no account of position and or likely winds, so we feel we are better placed.


Ripped our spinnaker last night, result…. 3 days of sewing!!

Bay of Biscay Blog

Set out from Brest on Monday midday heading into Bay of Biscay. Weather was forecast  as ‘sporty’ which means we were beating straight into the wind for 24 hours. Result, half the crew feeling and being, very ill and the other half exhausted from the sheer effort of keeping vertical! Good job this is leisure, i’d hate to do this as a job!!

Plan is to head around Cape Finestere, onto Canaries, past Cape Verde and then into the dodrums at the equator.

Simple tasks such as just getting around the boat take a whole new amount of effort and when someone asks you to get something for them because you are closer to it uses valuable energy.

Having had my mini energy crisis at the outset from UK to been keeping up the hi energy powders, gels and bars. Result is good.

More in due course, watch becons again only 82 more to go!!