24 hours away from London!

I've just got back from 24 hours away from London to go to the wedding of a fellow crew member from the Clipper2002 Round the World Yacht Race...and it's all come flooding back!

Although my part of the race was just the first leg, from Liverpool to Lisbon to Havana...6 weeks spent on board a 60ft yacht with 12 other people in some of the most trying physical conditions (because, yes, I had signed up for the Bay of Biscay bit!) is more than enough to build close, long lasting relationships. We now get together about once a year to celebrate some major occasion in one of our lives.

It takes no time at all to slip back in to that easy intimacy and comfort that is as close as you can get to being with family without actually being related. And like with most family gatherings the same stories and jokes are brought out and rehearsed and you know you are witnessing oral history in the making! The stories about me are all based on my legendary sea sickness, which, with the exception of 4 days in Lisbon, was how I spent the first half of the trip to Havana.

Our South African navy skipper at one point suggested that rather than writing my crew name, JoJo, on the back of my 'oilies' jacket so that I could be recognised in bad weather, it should have been written on the seat of my trousers, so much time did I spend hanging over the back of the boat being ill. That is, until we turned left towards Cuba, were no longer heading into wind and I was able to start speaking again!

For me, the little girl with her nose constantly in a book and with an uncanny ability to get out of any activity in sports day, taking part in a transatlantic yacht race was somewhat counter intuitive - I am not sporty to say the least. Despite the sea sickness, as my crew always take care to remind everyone, I didn't miss a single watch...and I did it! And I am, as you can probably tell, rather amazed and very proud that I managed it. I am not a natural sailor and it was physically the most challenging but also one of the most precious experiences of my life. Everything from going for a swim hundreds of miles from land during the doldrums, to witnessing the beauty of a moon rise at sea to finding the energy from somewhere to rustle up scones with jam and cream 14 days sail from land was just amazing.

I also, of course, found a set of wonderful crew members, those of whom I sailed with, know me as well as anyone else on this earth and can make me uncharacteristically sentimental! It was just lovely spending yesterday and today with them..again...and telling the same old stories again!!!


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