Lia Ditton who set off from the US last Thursday on her trip across the Atlantic back to the UK is concentrating on the most important things such as tanning out those irritating bikini lines!

Lia Ditton who set off from the US last Thursday on her trip across the Atlantic back to the UK is concentrating on the most important things such as tanning out those irritating bikini lines!

Picture this; It is my third scorching hot afternoon. I am approximately 200 miles offshore. Seated comfortably in the (survival orange) bean-bag in the cockpit I am making the best of the situation, by attempting to tan out those irritating bikini lines. So far, I have seen more whales than wind, but finally mid-afternoon, there is a humble 5kts apparent off the beam. The spinnaker is getting an airing and ‘Shockwave’ is achieving the holy grail of multhihulls and surfing under autopilot, through a flat sea at 5kts. It is at this point that I put down ‘Star’ Magazine and scan the horizon for traffic.

The magazine is one of those cheap-papered gossip columns that can be found lining most supermarket check-outs. This one claims “Breaking Celebrity News First!” and contains 80 per cent pictures of sun-glassed celebrities avoiding the camera, [but otherwise being inadvertently shot through their garden fences] a line-up of bad frocks, hairdos and adverts for clothing, cosmetics and TV shows, like Sex in the City. Usually I just flick through the pages while waiting for my shopping to be rung through, but from OSTAR experience (where two magazines were unknowingly stowed aboard), I have found that this sort of ‘scandalous’ light reading is absolutely riveting offshore. So when I drop the magazine to check for other vessels, it is with an impatience to return to an article about how Britney Spears’ husband wants Britney to give birth live on TV and the juice about how Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for a younger woman (Angelina Jolie, of course, keep up!).

Two vessels, I observe, are converging towards me. One is a freighter, probably enroute to Halifax and the other… I discover on reaching for my binoculars, is the US Coast Guard. There is no danger of a collision, but is clear that the two vessels will both pass quite close by. I am undecided as to which is worse; 12 Pakistanis and a Philippino Chef leering down at a sunbathing woman, in disbelief, or two men in uniform with guns, going, ‘So, Lady, What’s the story?’ Either way I make sure there are clothes to hand. If the US Coast Guard does decide to board ‘Shockwave,’ I realise that the conversation is going to be pretty interesting.

‘Where is the master of the ship?’
‘That would be me, Sir.’ [I am always glad to be able to produce an endorsed Yachtmaster license at this point, with photo ID]

‘Is there anyone else down below?’
‘No, Sir. You are welcome to look.’ ‘Have you ever heard of Ellen MacArthur…?’

This would probably prompt other such questions, like,’ ‘Are you married?’ [‘No, Sir,’] or ‘Where is your husband?’ [‘I have yet to meet him,’] or even ‘What do your parents think?’ As if I was a miscreant child who had run away from home. [They’d rather I flew!’]

Seeing my ‘Dancing Dora’ sippy cup (a gift from Debbie from the Christmas Tree Shop) they would probably ask, ‘Are you carrying any liquor onboard?’ Although no doubt spoken with an undercurrent of ‘Have you been drinking Madam?’ Since how could I possibly enjoy sailing all by myself? I would obviously laugh out loud, (which never helps one’s case in the face of officials) afterall, where would I stow it?
‘What about in the other hulls?’ I would have to assure them that there were no guns or firearms either.

If they wished to see my holding tank, the best I could do was produce a series of buckets and not mention that I was planning to cross the Atlantic. As for a crew list, seeing as there was just one of me, I would have to insist that I hadn’t considered it necessary. Fire Extinguisher, Fire Blanket, radar reflector, flares, check, check, check. My mind began to roam guiltily around the boat. Perhaps I ought to have picked up one of those jumbo flares at West Marine. The ones I had laughingly named ‘the Bazooka!’ They were twice the size of any Category 1 UK Flare that I had ever seen. Maybe they’re ‘THE LAW’ over here?

Thankfully the Coast Guard passed correctly to starboard and kept on going.