The bump

Wow. It’s that time again!

When I left the office everyone said the time would fly. If I’m honest I didn’t really believe them because I was filling the gap with something a little less ordinary. Thinking back there were certainly times when it dragged like the middle of the southern ocean. I hate to admit it but they were right. It’s like I never went away.

As the alarm went off and it was still dark I got flashbacks of getting up for watch. Of course that didn’t come with the admin of brushing my hair or applying make up. Oh how I wished sometimes!

I’m clearly struggling to ‘move on’ as I have yet another clipper gathering on Friday. There’s something so special about sharing the experience. After all there are very few who will truly understand what it’s meant. Hopefully that will coax me through this week. In fact, the lovely cathy is on stand by wine duty this evening if the bump won’t be soothed by a trip to the gym!

I also got an email from the boat over the weekend telling me how much they missed me. They then went on to say that they were a little concerned who might run the deep clean in such a militant style. I was hoping that my legacy maybe something a little deeper than ‘cleaner’! I’ll take that though because it’s always better to be remembered somehow.

This morning will inevitably frustrate as I try to work through system access, pass activation, desk moves etc etc. I can’t wait to speak with clients and colleagues, particularly those who have been egging me on. I had a quick trip to the office on Friday and was amazed at how many people said they were following my blog. I wish I could remember what I’d written in it. I’m hoping I didn’t dwell on the spotty bum or smelly feet!

It’s time to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in. It will be fun. How long until lunch??

XX

The bump

It’s photo time!

Im lying in bed trying to work out how to entertain my 4 month old niece. If you remember she was born just before I set sail across the Atlantic. Oh how time has flown. She’s now a pooing machine with the most gorgeous little personality.

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Imagine how bored she’ll be of all these sailing stories by the time she’s grown up. For the moment however they’re working a treat!

I may have to look at these photos all day to try to combat the holiday blues…

I was coaxed onto the boat clutching my ribs with the reassurance that the wind would never exceed 20kts on this leg.

Leaving Hobart. The skipper psyching himself up, another emotional goodbye and a very ‘relaxed’ race start (we were last).

Know your place. Mine was in my bunk high as a kite watching the world go by. Drug time and emptying the bilges were particular highlights. The waves so choppy that they’d douse the deck and flow happily into the bilges next to my bunk. Perhaps good Feng Shui having a water feature next to your bunk?

When I made the epic journey to the heads of catch a glimpse of life on deck. Greg got stuck in helping our short-handed crew as the weather and waves built.

A few days in near Port Stephens we had ‘The rescue’. You can read about it in an earlier blog. The culmination of a series of events, all of which were bad! A broken forestay in the Sydney Hobart race, a prop wrap disabling the engine, halyards wrapping around the mast inhibiting the use of the headsails, a man on the helm with a damaged arm, someone sent up the mast in horrendous weather to untangle things-he got tangled, his crew mate trying to save the day injuring himself, the main sail jamming up preventing the use of that halyard for the rescue…7 hours later the casualty was lowered. If only the drama had ended there. The police boat the arrived, they were travelling faster under sail than tow so declined, the wind built to 109kts and they beached the boat. Not something the delivery crew wanted on their CV.

And then there was THE storm. The warning from 100 dolphins, 109 knots (125 mph) winds and a crew that on the whole relished the event.

The weather suddenly changed and I got the 20kts or less Greg had promised. After 7 (ish) solid days confined to my bunk I was reintroduced to life above. And I loved it. Before too long I was hanking on sails and overseeing the bow again. I don’t recommend if you’re convalescing.

And then we arrived in heaven. Life on board was HOT with the coolest spot on the boat being the sail locker. 6 were stepping off the boat.

If you haven’t been to the Whitsundays, go. Go before it changes. It’s simply stunning. A fitting place to end the trip of a lifetime. After the usual post-race admin it was time to relax and enjoy.

I may have had broken ribs but it wasn’t going to stop me joining Richard, Mike and Greg for a local 5km race.

And then it was time to say goodbye to the good ship Missi and all who sail on her, friends on other boats and the clipper family. Rachel (legs 7&8) and I were taken out on the local ‘Bobby D’ to send them on their way.

And then it was back to earth with a bump and a bit of dust. The excitement wasn’t over. In fact, life on a boat was the perfect preparation for no hot water or heating. Next stop work.

It’s photo time!

UNICEF

The stats I receive from the blog publisher suggest that there are quite a few of you reading this. Far more than I had ever imagined. I think I’ve had over 1,000 visitors and 4,500 views. I really hope that you have enjoyed this journey as much as I have and thank you for your support. You’d be amazed at just how many times I’ve thought of you throughout the trip and knowing you’re there really has helped when the going has been tough.

The blog has been at times frank and a little raw. This was my personal account of what life has been like. It may have shocked, offended or scared. I hope not but it wouldn’t be real if I had in any way muted my emotion. In fact I tell a lie. There’s one emotion that I dumbed down and that’s the pain of breaking my ribs. My parents were worried enough!

I’ve loved writing for you all and so I may do so again. Watch out for Grim on Land! That’s certainly how I’m feeling right now in my shorts and flip flops on my way to Heathrow!

There are a few chapters left in this story before I draw to a close.

– I still owe you the photos from the last race. The storm, the rescue, the Whitsundays…you must visit if you haven’t.
– I’m about to get home to see my renovation project in the flesh!! Due to the neighbour debacle, the property on the other side being condemned and subsidence it is a few weeks behind but it’s quite incredible that we’ve got this far. It’s a long way from the crude maths that gave me two weeks to buy a house ‘because I thought it would be sensible to use the 4 months of being away to do something constructive’. Mad.
– And on 1st Feb I have to reintegrate into work with all that brings. I’ve actively avoided asking for news so it may well be all change. Who knows. I’m certainly looking forward to going back and seeing what’s what. I haven’t worn high heels since September!

I have never asked any of you for sponsorship for the Clipper charity, UNICEF, because I appreciate you receive those sorts of requests all the time for marathons, triathlons and the like and probably feel like you get little in return. However, if you have enjoyed this and feel like you would like to donate, perhaps the cost of a book, then please find me on just giving:

http://www.justgiving.com/Lucy-Grimstead

 

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One parting comment (for now). If you have a dream or ambition don’t suppress it. Have the courage to do it no matter how daunting it may seem. Be brave. I didn’t think I had it in me to take a break from work but I have achieved more than I thought was possible and in doing so I have learnt so much about myself and others. I have enjoyed myself more than I had imagined. I’m capable of smiling with a bigger grin than I’ve seen before. I’m definitely a better person as a result.

Thank you for sharing it.

 

Lots of love, Lucy

UNICEF

The end is nigh

On the eve of the next Clipper leg it is with a heavy heart that I write this blog. For me tomorrow marks the end of a two year journey for me. The adventure of a lifetime.

I have made countless friends and memories for life and shared experiences that few will be able to comprehend.

Little did I know that night in Cape Town would yield such a special time. There I was bickering with mum defending the merits of Internet dating when we both did that roll-over and cross your arms thing in our respective beds. She was convinced I’d meet a murderer (I did meet someone who’d just been released from prison) while I hoped that I’d meet someone special (I didn’t). As she fell asleep I started to google on my iPhone.

Life was tough at the time and I was silently crying out for help. I was going through a bit of turmoil, lacking direction and crushing myself under worries and stress, much of which were self imposed.

I’d been suffering with a chronic knee injury which crippled my potential to cycle at a decent level. The competitive animal in me was getting hungry. I was also missing the opportunity to clear the mind, something that exercise does so readily and is vital when you work in the environment I do. I was getting overcome with work pressure and losing my way a little after ten years in a similar seat. Perhaps most challenging was the court case I had just been through with my ex. I needed to get out of a hole and there I was hoping that Google could help me do just that.

I found myself navigating the Clipper site after dismissing The Everest summit (too common/not good odds), an attic marathon (my knees), trekking to the pole and so on. I’m a desperately impatient person and so their non-mobile-friendly site as it was back then was driving me mad. To save my blood pressure I decided that instead of reading up about it I would just apply. What could possibly go wrong. I remember naively thinking that the interview was part of a comprehensive selection process hence the endless essay style questions. There I was tapping away on the iPhone answering questions about challenges and the like. It was only on the last ‘accept here’ page that the price popped up. The perils of a poor website. I choked when I saw that this thing that I was ‘being selected for’ was going to cost me £25,000. A moment of hesitation and then a ‘fuck it’ press of the button. I have never looked back.

You can imagine Sarah, my boss’ reaction when i returned from holiday and said that I needed a day off for an interview. Her immediate response was that I wasn’t meant to tell her if I was interviewing elsewhere. When I told her of the adventure I think she thought I was officially mad. Being as supportive as always and an amazing lady she wished me luck and devised a plan to approach management about my 3-6 month break.

Clearly the rest is history.

I can now completely understand why some 40% of participants get promoted the year after they return from the race. The opportunity to broaden horizons and test yourself is unrivalled. It has taught me that I can learn something completely alien and become good at it. That I can successfully lead a team even when I’m perhaps not an expert. That friends are those that love and care for you when the going gets tough and times are hard. I hope I can be that person for many. I’m more resilient than I had thought, particularly my hair! And that I’m not invincible when up against Mother Nature.

Goodbyes are always hard. Really hard. I suspect tomorrow will bring some of the hardest I’ve had. The lump in the throat that you get at airports will be dwarfed as Missi and the 11 others and their respective crews sail off into the distance on to Vietnam.

The lovely Rachel (leg 7 and 8) and I are being taken out on a local yacht to watch the parade of sail from the water. I’m sure that will distract as will the lovely dinner and glass of wine after.

I wish Missi and the crew all the best for a fast, safe and fun passage. I’m gutted I’m not there but look forward to welcoming them down the route. I’m proud to have been a warrior and to leave the boat in 5th position overall.

Sail your socks off. XX

 

 

The end is nigh

And that’s a wrap!

I boarded Missi with great trepidation in Hobart for this final race of my journey. I was in a huge amount of pain and drugged to my eyeballs and couldn’t bare the thought of that continuing. Suffering in the middle of the ocean is very, very different to being on land. The doctor had assured me that I could do no further damage, my spleen was unscathed and after the low point (7-10 days after the accident, the Bass Straight) I should start to feel an improvement. On hearing that Greg provided further comfort. “Lucy, the most amount of wind we’re expecting is 15-20kts and much of that will be from behind making for a smooth journey”. An easy wallowing ride in the sunshine I thought.

That was quickly forgotten as the weather once again disobeyed. The wind was back on the nose for much of the trip and as we fell off each wave I winced, occasionally letting out a yelp from the confinement of my bunk. That was usually accompanied by a cascade of the Tasman Sea through the closed hatches into the ‘dry’ saloon area below, the boat equivalent of the shake and wake snow dome. For someone who had been so active onboard not being allowed nor physically capable of even sticking my nose out of the companionway hatch for 6 or 7 days was torture.

The race had everything; no wind, lots of wind and absolutely loads of wind, cold and wet to steamy and sweaty,  baron seas to incredible wildlife, a victory and a last place, bickering and the kiss and make up…

No good story would be complete without three things though; a bit of heroism, a great come back and a happy ending. And that’s exactly what was delivered. Gavin saved a life, I returned to the bow and I’ve completed my journey to sail half way around the world.

I had my final, and very complimentary debrief with Greg yesterday.  Official crew change over day is on Friday but I’ve clocked out, passport in hand.  It’s time for me to kick back, recharge my batteries and mend before going back to my renovation project, work (!!), friends, family and the gym.

I have some great photos (once I have wifi) and a few more detailed tales and learnings to share so it’s not quite over on Grim at Sea but for now a sun lounger and a stunning view awaits and after 13,000 miles of sailing I think it’s well earned.

 

And that’s a wrap!

Last but by no means least

As you may have read, due to poor wind we have succumbed to twelfth place.  A result no one can be disappointed in given the circumstances in which we left the fleet.  We are now motor-sailing to Airlie at a steady 8.5 knots and expect to arrive some time before 11am local time.

Due to the relatively short stopover before the 49 day passage to China via
Vietnam, and the strict regulations around water polution in and around
Airlie, we are getting much of our deep clean done overnight.  I have been
given the honour (chore?) of the clipboard and to-do list and have to coerce the crew into ticking things off.  The incentive of course is that it is 20 -25 degrees by night and at least 10 degrees warmer by day.  Starboard watch are up first up on the 2000-0200 watch.  Their task list includes a mix of cleaning and maintenance as follows:

– yankee 3 (lube hanks, replace missing hank pulls, mark the flakes on the
sail [this will prevent many a deck debacle)
–  replace the spectra doughnut on the clew of the code 1
–  clean the starboard saloon area including the boards and bilges
–  Wipe down and anti-bac the surfaces of the port saloon area
–  clean the starboard side wet locker (the site of my incident)

That should leave us, port Watch, with a similarly enthrawling list to
acomplish before breakfast.  I hope my coordination role goes somewhat
better than my seamstress role earlier.  Greg tried to teach me how to use
Cynthia our sewing machine.  Even Greg who has been trained to within an inch of his life to never give up gave up. Amy, Danielle you would have been ashamed.

Then its all hands to finish bits off before Missi sparkles her way into
port to what we hope will be a warm (literally and figuratively) welcome
from the other crews and bystanders.  No doubt Gav will have a media flock as he always does (the first hearing impaired person to circumnavigate the globe and save a life while doing so).  Thankfully my ribs finished Clippers attraction to me.

Whilst I can’t vocalise it for fear of people taking things easy, my
intention is to have the boat finished in time for a late lunch laced with
the champagne.   I think there is no more fitting way to mark the end of my journey sailing half way around the world (and the new year given my last attempt at that was a sober, morphine filled affair).

Until land.

Lot of love to all xxxx

Last but by no means least

Its HOOOOOTTT!

With the passing of the storm and the seemingly endless bickering on board came the sunshine, music, laughter and frivolity on deck (and someone changing watches and threatening to switch boats).  The buoyant mood more than compensating for the liklihood of last place but in the interest of aiming high, we have Qingdao in our sights…a finish above them will yield another rung on the leaderboard.

Delighted to report that I am not only up and about (and have been
separated from my kindle) but have now survived two full watches one of
which was very much BAU; hanking on sails, gybing and generally just
enjoying life on the bow.  Of course, as is usual with me I have overdone
things a little but nothing to wipe the smile off my face.  Afterall, I
probably only have 36 hours of this crazy boat life left.

The gybing is as a result of our proximity to to the reefs.  We have to
choose the route to destination between little islands and reefs that gives
us the least distance to travel in the best wind conditions minimising the
impact of the local adverse currents.

We had a visitor earlier.  Some questioned if my dad was in town but alas
it was the Australian Border Agency buzzing us.  They followed with a radio call to check our intentions….cocktails and champagne in Airlie beach please!

Now to try to catch a few winks…an almost impossible task in blistering
heat which brings with it sweatinesss and mould, yes mould, growing on the walls of the boat.

Vin we miss you!  Hope you’re healing.

Wind providing, the next time may be from land…

xxx

Its HOOOOOTTT!

Salmon and macaroni cheese

Well, after this morning’s excitement of rescuing someone on another vessel (see earlier mail)  I thought the day was going to be full of anticlimax.  Remember I said he wind would drop?  The forecast lied.  I can now say that I have been recouperating in 109 kt plus winds.  My contribution was to stand in the galley and pour juice.  My only tale to tell was getting covered in salmon and macaroni cheese dish water in the knock down.  Others proudly tell stories of survival, the helm fully submerged, the mastwoman (Janine) falling to the deck from the
boom and the most stunning sight of 100 dolphins forewarning(?) us of the inclement (to say the least) weather.  Proud of this crew.  Still waiting for some champagne sailing…

We’re doing 20 kts of boat speed under bare poles.  Fingers crossed for an ocean sprint win.  Now that would make a good story…

Salmon and macaroni cheese

Chores on the battered steed!

The last 24 hours have been fairly intense for the crew of Missi.  With 60 miles left of the ocean sprint attention turns to mending our rather battered steed.

This morning Janine went up our mast to retrieve a couple of sliders that had been ripped out of the main sail and left hanging in the track obstructing future use.  As a group work to replace the sliders sewing new webbing onto the main and checking all remaining ones, another group armed with a saw and a couple of lengths of fibre glass (?)set to work on replacing the battens.

We’re making good speeds with just the staysail and yankee 2 but that won’t last as the wind abates.  I have been working to service all blown lifejackets replacing canisters and auto-inflate mechanisms and trying out the sensor that triggers the flashing light.  I’m still not allowed on deck as it is a little unstable and I think that’s the right call.

I’m guessing we have 4 days left and in that time my aim is to make it to the bow…just to take a photo you understand!

Chores on the battered steed!

Please consider yourselves ‘rallied’…!

Hi Mum,
Please could you rally the troops on Facebook (don’t use the below for FB) and through my blog.  Stormhoek Facebook page.  [I think you just have to say you nominate Mission Performance for the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award for saving a man’s life!] We have had one hell of a night as you may have read.  Will fill you in with more of the details shortly but it is suffice to say that whilst we won’t get a podium we are now hopeful that we will get the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award.  That involves people voting for us through the Clipper site…go go go!  We have just saved a mans life.  No exaggeration.

So, at 00:24 last night we heard a call for help.  The call was targeted at a
couple of other Clipper yachts in the closer vaccinity to the distressed
vessel.  No one responded (poor form) so Sally and I called for Greg to
assist.  We marked our position, dropped the head sails, turned on the engine and off we went.  Racing suspended and our position sacrificed.  11 nautical miles to the target.  The radio coversation had informed us that 1) there had been a prop wrap so the engine could not be turned on, 2) the headsail had shredded, 3 halyards had twisted (like Kyro) and 4) the Skipper’s son was stuck up there and had been for 2 hours getting beaten to a pulp.  It was pitch black and the scene of something that could have had many outcomes, most of which were bad.

Gavin and Janine nominated themselves to be the ‘climbers’ offering to scale the troubled mast and assist.  There was a small matter of boat to boat transfer first.  The initial attempt the simply step across was aborted for the swell, the second and third attempts were similarly unsuccessful.  A call for dry suits, there was going to be a body drag through the water –  a line belayed and then the climbers simply step off the comfort and safety of our yacht into the sea and dragged to the vessel.  They stopped at just one climber in the end, Gavin.  1 hour and 45 minutes later he touched down on terra firma shortly after the casualty tired and exhausted after an epic 7(?) hour stint.  Kyro eat your heart out!  True to form, once the dust had settled the official rescue vessel, a police boat, arrived.  They simply gave Gavin back to Clipper and went on to tow the distressed vessel.

A tremendous achievement for Gavin, a memory for all and not one to be
remembered by father and son of M3.

With the excitement over, my first morphine pill in 36 hrs it is time for me
to retreat to my bunk again.

Love to all as we set off again under race conditions from the site of the
incident.

Here it is again…. please vote for Lucy’s boat on this link:
Stormhoek Facebook page.  [I think you just have to say you nominate Mission Performance for the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award for saving a man’s life!]  Thank you.
xx

Please consider yourselves ‘rallied’…!