You've seen the reality TV documentary about Dame Ellen MacArthur's death-defying and record breaking sailing journeys. Over the past week our very own boss Stuart Miles did the same by joining the crew of a racing yacht, in the same time that there's a historical sailing series on the BBC and only a fortnight after the Bicentennial Battle of Trafalgar celebrations. With all things nautical running through his head along with the soundtrack to 1492 (crazy man), our intrepid cap'n sent us these two selected dispatches from the boat…
Daily Log: 14/7/05
Race: Global Challenge
By Stuart Miles
Position: 48 46N 006 04W 00:21UTC (off the coast of Brest)
Sleeping on the yacht has been an interesting experience these last
40-hours, mainly because I have done a lot more of it than expected.
The urge and need to get your head down no sooner have you come off deck seems to be appealing to all onboard.
Duncan "The sloth" Paterson, who according to the stories I have heard of previous legs, is happy to show us how it's done. Not five-minutes after we've come down off watch and he is curled up in his bunk fast asleep. It truly is a wonder to behold how someone can go from be so active one minute to so inactive the next.
I seem to be, to my surprise, not far behind him, however where I
differ is the inability to find comfort anywhere on board other than the bunk - which I have to say isn't that comfortable either. Up top there always seems to be a sheet in the way, a pulley, or even just the contours of the hull to make it just a shade of reasonable. They say you don't miss something until it's either too late and for me the snugness of my king sized duvet and a wife to cuddle up to is certainly missed.
When you eventually do get to sleep the adventure doesn't stop there.
Aside from having to strap yourself in so you don't roll out, sleep through the noises of the generator, the odd argument and lapping of the sea against the boat you've got the dreams to put up with as well. It's no wonder ancient mariners talked of sea dragons and mermaids.
So you wake up, dazed and slightly confused. Your thoughts amazing turn immediately to your position in the race and the hope that you don't have to spring in to action as soon as you get on deck. Unlike land life there is no promise of breaking that fast and two out of three times it is likely to be pitch black when you do make it topside.
Failing the need for instantaneous action you can follow the lead of
Certain crew (allegedly) and try and sleep on the job. Like the lunchtime drinker who falls into an afternoon slumber, the signs are easy to spot. The panic lurch or double confirmations to acknowledge that they aren't really asleep, they just didn't hear you properly the first time, are the most obvious, while the slopping off to the snake pit, supposedly filing the daily log, or
sitting on the side rails the more ingenious.
- then as the race came to an end over the early hours at the start of this weekend…
Daily Log: 15/7/05
Race: Global Challenge
Position: 50 29.4N 02 04.9W (Just off the Isle of Wight)
As we approach the final hours of the race, the mood of the crew and
Myself is anticipation and excitement. In little over 7 hours it will all be over, in 24 an enjoyable experience and in a month a distant memory.
Until then the race is very much on. Since the sunrise this morning we have battled against the odds to not only catch the three front-runners - SAIC, Barclays and BG, but even to steal second place and eye first. The watches are becoming more nerve-racking with every change as everyone is desperate to avoid errors and the urge to win becomes stronger.
As for me, the time has flown by, the routine is starting to become
Somewhat normality and going back to the daily commute on Monday will be hard. Staring out into the big blue sea certainly has its mesmerising hold.
Am I hooked? Certainly. Would I attempt the race? I don't know whether I would have it in me. For the crew though, they've seen, they've sailed and they've
conquered. And I congratulate each and every one of them.