The early stages of Jessica Daw’s race on Liverpool Clipper have been dominated by nausea and personal hygiene concerns

Figures polled at 0300 this morning show Liverpool Clipper fifth, leading a chasing pack of yachts 40 miles behind current leader Bristol. Jersey Clipper is two miles off the lead with great rivals Plymouth and Portsmouth seven and 15 miles respectively behind Jersey Clipper. Here’s Jessica’s latest report:

Today is day four at sea of the anticipated 24 days on the penultimate leg of The Times Clipper Round the World Yacht Race from Salvador to New York – and, in truth, the first time I have been able to contemplate sending some copy!

Liverpool Clipper made a good start to the race, taking the lead after the first and only mark. We hardened up on a starboard tack and spent the next two days beating to windward, north along the coast. The motion of the boat was pretty unkind and disagreed with several of us, including one round the worlder.

Seasickness due to the motion of the boat is made worse by the fetid air in the accommodation (beating to windward we had all the hatches closed) so the minute you go below and get to your bunk, you wish you were on deck again where there is air; and feeling ill on deck, all you want is to lie down. It’s a Catch 22. I would be a liar if I said that in the first two days, I had not seriously wanted to get off.

On day three we popped the kite in the early hours of the morning (no mean feat as you feel your way around a still unfamiliar deck in the gloom) and bore away and only then did I really begin to get my sealegs. Prior to that all my food bar one banana and a few ginger nut biscuits had been heaved over the side. However by this stage we had dropped to sixth place in the fleet, but with over 4000 miles to go, it’s all to play for still.

It takes some serious adjustment both physically and mentally to fall in with the rhythms of life on board. We have adopted a three-watch system so for the first five days my time will be spent as follows:

  • 1200-1600: on watch
  • 1600-0000: off watch
  • 0000-0400: on watch
  • 0400-0800: mother watch
  • 0800-1200: off watch

It’s just luck of the draw which watch you get first and we won’t make any major changes until day eight. I could not ask for more considerate people on board, the old hands are acutely aware that for leggers everything is foreign as it’s been a long time since my training so I ask one idiot question after another both above and below deck and receive patient answers.

We shower every three days – shower in the loosest sense of the word as the water pump is currently broken, but even a bucket of cold water offers welcome relief as we are currently approximately three degrees south and the efforts of steering in a following sea and keeping control of the heavy weight kite leaves everyone sweating. I can hardly bear my own smell let alone that of others. One crew member, Zoe, uses Lavender oil to kill the odours, another Polly, pulls a bandana over her nose. Each to their own.

However, I am off watch for the next eight hours, and as I sit braced at the chart table, sounds of ‘Dido’ emanate from the CD player, smells of supper waft from the galley and with a light breeze over my shoulder, life seems bearable once again.

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