The Carl Palmer Clipper Diaries

Chapter 4

Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . . Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . . Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . .

December 2017

“Well I am off again and a better start to the race, being third around the windward mark but a later start than usual with crowds mainly in their own boats in and around the start line.”

The conditions were perfect, brilliant sunshine and the Fremantle doctor (afternoon strong wind) kicked in and we were on our way to Sydney. We hugged the coast of Western Australia as the rest of the fleet headed out to sea.  This was not to be the best tactical decision as after day one we were towards the back of the fleet.

Coming onto my first watch I was determined to be even more determined and positive and as Starboard Watch Leader I threw the gauntlet to the rest of my watch.

We have two new members to my watch. One ex-Greenings crew member who has already proved her worth and a newbie who has spent most of her time in the heads or bed with sea sickness.

On shift Monday morning. Fantastic sailing conditions. We really worked hard on sail trim and boat speed. I think it has paid off and we are now in fifth place. We have tacked just before we came off shift and now heading direct for Sydney.

Back on shift, we have dropped back to eleventh place – not sure what has happened. A bit demoralised. So is the rest of my watch.

During the watch we worked hard again on boat speed and towards the end of our watch we launched the code three spinnaker for more speed. I talked to my friend Mick about the lack of enthusiasm and desire to win from most people on the boat and how it was getting me down.

Off to bed now. Feeling very tired and lonely for my loved ones.

It’s Wednesday afternoon and the last 36 hours have been the best since I joined this boat. Heavy weather sailing and big seas have made for exhilarating sailing and surfing down the back of 30 foot high waves.

My team watch are impressive and are doing what I ask of them in a positive fashion. I feel very content, although hearing and playing Christmas carols has reminded me of how much I miss my loved ones at home.  It’s three in the afternoon . . . off to sleep now.

 

 

What a night, heavy squalls, strong winds with sleet in it and multiple sail changes.

It’s Thursday morning and I am now off watch for six hours. I had a heavy fall last night when a rogue wave knocked me off balance and I fell backwards and injured my lower back – just as my knee mended! So now I feel sorry for myself.  I feel shattered.  The usual pain killers then off to my bunk.

Friday morning – very windy today. Again grey skies, big seas but my watch are ready and enjoying it. We have 650 miles to go before we are at way point at the bottom of Tasmania, which should take us until Monday morning, and if the weather holds, another four days to reach Sydney. So hopefully, we will be there by next weekend and in daylight this time!!!!!!!

Saturday morning 9th December it certainly doesn’t feel like Christmas but we did sing some carols on my last watch.  It was good fun but we were all out of tune!

Sailing was hard work at first light around 4.30am boat time. We hoisted our code three spinnaker and immediately started to surf down the waves at 20 knots plus. Still haven’t beaten my personal best of 27 knots in the night. We have overtaken HotelPlanner.com and have reared in Liverpool 2018 from 17 miles to just two. Should catch them by lunchtime.

I am on Mother Watch on Sunday and it’s egg and bacon day – everybody’s favourite.

We have overtaken Liverpool 2018 and they are now 17 miles behind. They must have had some problems during the night.

Last shift before Mother Duty was horrendous. Big waves, 35 knots of wind, pitch black, no moon and no stars. As you can imagine, nobody’s keen on helming so I ended up doing a large part of the shift whilst standing, which actually suited me as my back is still very sore!!! And is easiest whilst standing.

At shift changeover time two members of my watch were on the low side of the boat moving towards the companionway when they were swept along the deck into the guard rail and were very nearly swept overboard. Luckily they were both tethered on and were able to be hauled back. I was hit by the same wave and knocked off the helm; the weight of the water causing my life jacket to automatically inflate a reminder of how dangerous it is on board.

I have now completed over 20,000 nautical miles and have calculated that I must have helmed 3000 of them.

This morning I am resting and on Mother Duty. We are in fifth place and 109 miles from the bottom of Tasmania before we head north for Sydney and warmer weather.  It’s a cold wet windy and miserable place to be but a real challenge.

It’s Monday morning and we have rounded the bottom of Fremantle making our way north towards Sydney. The wind is dying and there is a wind hole ahead of us making our progress slow. My watch members are very tired and miserable and there is a lot of talk about how much harder this has been. I did tell them we have had the two toughest legs both in the Southern Ocean.

For my part I never want to see this sea again! A cold rough windy lonely place, devout of any soul – in my bunk typing.

I have been on the helm for three hours of our four hour shift and feel drained.

It’s Tuesday afternoon and have been hard at it since 4.00am. It’s absolutely perfect sailing and with 15-20 knots of breeze we are now up to fifth place again, having dropped a place during the night.  Several of the fleet are still about 80 miles behind us stuck in a wind hole. Our ETA for Sydney is early Friday morning. I hope we arrive in daylight as our previous arrivals have always been at night.

A wet-wipe bath today. Clean underwear and clothes. I feel 100 percent better! Can’t wait for real thing though . . . a hot shower, hair washed etc.

Wednesday morning and we have run out of gas so no hot food until we reach Sydney! Cold baked beans on the menu tonight on the sailing front. The wind is up to 20 knots and we are beaten, so life again at 45 degrees! Anyway, it shouldn’t be for too long. ETA still Friday am.

Thursday morning – progress is slow. ETA now Saturday morning.  Everybody’s getting ratty. No hot drinks or hot food. Corned beef, cheese and Branston pickle for lunch today. I can’t wait until we get to port. It’s warm outside and some of the crew are listening to Christmas carols. I feel fed up and wish I was back home with loved ones and family for Christmas. I’m off this afternoon so going to try and sleep as I’m shattered.

Friday morning – been on shift since 4.00am. I can hardly keep my eyes open.  It’s now nine o’clock and have packed my bags. ETA 3 o’clock Sydney time if the wind holds. Unfortunately it’s dropped, so may squeeze in another shift.

Although one of our shorter legs this has been tough, particularly as Watch Leader and all that goes with it.  I will definitely not be going into the Southern Ocean again. It’s not a friendly place. Anyway, next leg is the bass straits loom with the start of the Sydney Hobart Race . . . can’t wait!

Sent from my iPad

 

 

The Carl Palmer Clipper Diaries

Chapter 3

Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . . Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . . Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . .

November 2017

“We’re off again at last. Three days too long of a stay over. Just wanted to get going again and on my way to Australia!

This is going to be one of the hardest legs in terms of the weather. 40 knot gusts and eighty-foot waves should be fun.

Day One started with light to moderate winds and again we had a poor start, arriving a bit early on the starting line before the starting gun. However, we soon pulled back and found ourselves in second place by the end of the day, some six miles ahead of the third boat, PSB Logistics, who again later in the night had a collision with a sea animal!  This time a turtle, however the good news was that there was no damage . . . not sure about the turtle though.

The not-so-good news was that the Greenings boat which ran aground, and the crew had to be evacuated. Fortunately, there were no casualties, but we are not sure yet of the damage to the boat. Subsequently we heard the boat is on the shore but breaking up in the heavy surf. Very sad in deed.

A long day and night for the first 36 hours. Off to bed now for my first six-hour off watch.

Couldn’t sleep. Got allocated a top bunk which was virtually impossible to get into.

Day Two – today very strong winds all day. It’s five in the evening and I haven’t really slept.  I am tired and very irritable.  Sea sickness has struck again, each shift has one down.  Some shift numbers consist of seven and not nine, and I have another ‘mother watch’ food duty for the day.

The last 18-hours have been the roughest weather I have ever experienced. I can’t even type, so I am stopping.

Gusts reached 74 knots. It was terrifying but exciting at the same time. I caught a member of our crew praying to God that he didn’t want to die.  I assured him he would be fine. Though it did cross my mind to join him in prayer!

It’s Saturday afternoon, the sun is shining, and everybody is in great spirits. I’m off shift now until 8pm so off to bed to catch up on some sleep.

It’s Sunday morning 4am. I’m on shift.  The wind has died, and nothing is happening. A pair of Manx shearwaters have been sweeping around the boat along with a young white Albatross. I wonder how they live?  Apparently, they only go ashore once a year to breed!

Not sure what happened to the last few days. I do know it’s been very windy and cold with one watch doing five sail changes.

I am really enjoying my responsibilities as Watch Leader and my team are really jollying together. I think we are all up for the challenges ahead of us!

It’s Tuesday morning and lying in bed feeling sorry for myself.  I thought about everybody at home and wondered what they were doing and if they are ok.  This for me is the hardest part of this challenge.

About to have lunch then on shift for the afternoon.

What a shift! Strong winds, big sea and a lone Albatross following the boat . . . they are addictive to watch.

It’s Thursday now, we have reached the most southerly point we can go without the risk of hitting icebergs.

The going is slow as we beat into 35 knots of wind.  In the next few days we should hit the roaring forties and should be able to bear off onto strong westerly winds and forty-foot waves that will sweep us down to Australia.

Day Ten – Progress to Australia very slow. The wind remained very strong with gusts to 45 knots.  Living at a 45-degree angle is taking its toll on people with some serious falls and injuries. Our Health & Safety Department would have a field day with all the trip hazards on this boat.

Today my knee has swollen, and I have been examined by the onboard doctor.  It looks like I have torn knee ligaments due to my helming for long periods of time.  I have been given some pain killers and told to rest.  No easy task on this boat!

Off to catch some sleep before next watch at eight. Sausage and mash for dinner . . . my favorite.

It’s Saturday morning and not much change in weather.  Just off watch.  It’s 9am and I’m about to go to my bunk. Breakfast today was porridge, which looked like cement, and toast that looked like bricks!  Back at home I would have been having bacon and eggs and then off to watch my son play rugby.

The last few days have been a real drag with limited sail changes and no course changes. Everybody looks tired and bored. This is just relentless.

My good friend on board and fellow starboard crew member has hurt his arm and is really struggling around the boat, like myself, but hopefully on the mend now.

Sunday afternoon 2pm and off shift for six hours.  I have had a wet-wipe bath, deodorant and teeth cleaned. Feel fab!! I am going to conquer this.  I have renewed energy.

Last night at 3am my watch was really down so I asked our native South African representative and crew member to sing some traditional South African songs. They were fantastic and really lifted our spirits. May make this a regular feature!

The Southern Ocean is a lonely, cold, grey, wet and windy place and will not be on my top ten places to revisit.  I will be glad when the wind changes and we can fly our kite and move closer to our destination which is still some 3,000 miles away!

Monday morning and my knee still has not improved.  It is very swollen and black.  I just finished my 4-8am shift, had breakfast (the usual porridge and toast) and now in my bunk typing at a 45-degree angle.  The medic has turned up to examine my leg. Not much she can do but provide pain killers and rest. Pain killers I can do but rest, not.

Funny story . . . well for me anyway.  I went on watch this morning and as it was getting light I realised I had put my right boot onto my left leg (you get the rest).  I thought my feet felt a bit strange this morning. I thought my socks had twisted !!!!!!

We are apparently in eighth place.

It’s Tuesday 14th November, the wind has finally backed and we are at last flying our kite in 20 knots of breeze, in the right direction.  We had a great watch this morning and once we had the right sail plan, we set about doing tasks impossible to do over the last 11 days smashing into 40 knot winds and thirty-foot waves. Safety nets are now repaired, new sail ties spliced, sail locker sorted etc.

Now for ‘me time’ . . . wet wipe bath, face cream, clean clothes (including underwear) and in my bunk feeling bliss.

I haven’t had time to listen to my audio book that my close family bought me this leg, as Sail…Eat…Sleep took over.  Will try tomorrow, but for now I need to catch up on some sleep. As usual I’m missing my son Harry, Julie and my Mum and Dad.  It’s the quieter times when you think about what they are up to.

It’s hard to believe that I have been on this boat since 6th August. I don’t have any attachment to it at all. I am not sure why.  Australia looms, about ten days sailing away.  I can’t believe I have actually sailed here. Really looking forward to the Australia legs they are short and should be a lot of fun.

Wednesday morning.  Just off watch and in my bunk resting my knee which is still very swollen and was painful whilst on deck trying to keep the weight off it.

Tension mounts with the crew due to tiredness and physical exhaustion.  Tempers were lost last night between a member of my starboard watch and a member of the off-going port watch.  Voices were exchanged, and punches thrown by both parties!! I managed to intervene and calmed the situation down.  It transpired that there have been ongoing problems with them hot bunking together with clothes and personal stuff lying in the bunk.

It was reported to Skipper and it’s likely they will be asked to leave the boat, so we will be an even smaller crew, though Skipper assures me that two Greening crew members who have lost their boat will be joining us.

Thursday morning and finally the sun has come out.  Rolling surf and 20 knots of wind estimates an arrival time in Fremantle of seven to eight days, dependent on wind conditions.

This is perfect sailing and makes up for the last two weeks. The wind is set to increase over the next 24 hours so there should be some great sailing ahead.

My knee is still very painful and the doctor has again told me to rest it . . . I just smiled at her.

She recommended that I see a doctor in Fremantle and to ask for a knee brace which sounds totally impractical.  We will see on my progress.

We passed a small island earlier.  A volcanic rock in the middle of the southern sea. Apparently no one lives there but there is a small store of food and a bottle or two of whisky.  Skipper and I agreed it would be very tempting to stop off but as my watch has sailed us into third place we will not be stopping but pushing hard to get second place.  Off to sleep now as I have a 7.30pm watch for my next shift.

Getting dressed and undressed four times a day is getting a bit arduous.

The generator has packed up today, so we are having to run our engine twice a day to recharge our batteries and run our water maker. As my bunk is next to it, it is very noisy.

Friday morning and the fleet has been ordered to reduce sail immediately as metal fatigue has been spotted in the forestay bolts on two of the boats which could result in the boats being demasked. Not an ideal scenario.  This is making sailing conditions very difficult as we cannot use the correct sail plan.

Discussions are ongoing with the Race Director and Skippers, but the consensus is that race should stop immediately and that all boats head to Fremantle for repairs . . .  more to come no doubt.

I am on ‘Mother Watch’ today.  Not my favourite duty but I only have to do it twice per race.

I have just finished.  It’s now 9.30pm and have been at this since six this morning. Everybody has now been fed and watered.

Back on watch after a couple hours rest at midnight. Nobody wants to helm so I end up doing the first hour. I am not very happy as I am shattered but I am Watch Leader and need to take responsibility for running the boat whilst the Skipper is not on deck. It’s cold, dark and miserable. The waves are building and it’s difficult to helm as the seas get bigger and bigger.

Off watch at four in the morning.  The graveyard watch finished I crash out on my bunk and do not even undress.  I fell asleep on top of my sleeping bag and slept sound until seven when I was awoken for breakfast. My six-hour shift starts at eight. I am stiff, tired and ache all over.  It’s porridge, toast from homemade bread, then back on deck!

Briefing from Skipper . . . he wants to sail low and fast.  ETA Fremantle, now six to seven days.

I am helming again.  The sky is grey, the water’s grey and everybody’s spirits are grey. I cracked a few jokes to the Watch that were not that funny, but they raised a smile or two, and like a light switch the sun comes out.  It’s now nine in the morning and we have a six-hour watch ahead of us.  The seas are building . . .  this is perfect sailing conditions as the wind increases.

Soon we are surfing down 30ft waves. The speed is exhilarating but at the top of each wave I feel like the first time my parents took me to the roller coaster ride at Great Yarmouth front when I was twelve. Your stomach just drops, and you swallow hard.  This is what I came for!!! My expectations have been fulfilled!!!  My spirits are lifted and my knee is on the mend. Lunch, then off to bed to catch up on some sleep.

A very difficult night; nobody was keen to helm and I spent the first hour and a half helming. I ended up putting two reefs into the main in an effort to depower the rig. We were surfing at 20 knots plus, not always in control.

During the night Skipper came on deck and told us to clip on twice as there had been some reported problems with the tethers. I thought it odd but told my watch to do so.

It’s Sunday morning about to finish our watch and our Skipper informs me to tell the crew that there has been a fatality on Great Britain. A crew member’s tether had snapped and was thrown into the water. He was picked up 36 minutes later, but tragically drowned.

I had completed my training with this guy about the same age as me and wanting the lifetime experience that I craved for.  He was buried at sea this morning and our crew observed a one-minute silence. A very sad morning indeed, which has troubled me greatly.

Monday past and gone.  Absolutely fantastic sailing; the best yet, perhaps a tribute to Simon who is sadly not with us now. ETA for Fremantle is Friday but we have a wind hole to contend with just off the coast.

The last 36 hours have been a period of reflection. I have already achieved what I set out to do and prove. I had it in myself to sail the North and South Atlantic and the Southern Ocean crossing the equator as well.

I have completed over 16,000 nautical miles, more than most yachtsman in a lifetime!

I am concerned about the safety issues that have beset this leg. The grounding of Greenings earlier on in the leg which could have resulted in many souls losing their lives . . . thankfully they did not. I heard the whole event unfold on the vhf radio and how the rescue services from the South African Coast Guard were absolutely first rate and should be applauded. This leg has been a high price, one lost life and one lost boat.

I have helmed in some awful conditions and been Assistant and Watch Leader for two legs.  The last leg I found particularly challenging as the conditions made people reluctant to carry out tasks given to them and many times I ended up doing them myself.

The problem with the rigs and the potential for them to fall down due to shackle failure and finally what is suspected as tether failure which led to the death of one of our fellow competitors has led me to review whether I continue this journey, which in a way may just repeat what I have already achieved.

Unless I have satisfactory answers from Clipper Race as to the safety issues raised I will have to review my continuance in this race. I am not alone in this reflection and most of our crew are seeking answers and clarification.

Wednesday morning and the wind is dying. Fremantle is now pushed back until Sunday.  This is going to be a long hard few days and everybody has their fingers crossed for wind.  The temperatures are rising and sailing kits are being taken off and dried on deck in the sun. But it still smells rank.

The program for Fremantle has been pushed back a few days due to the late arrival times of the competing yachts. Doubtfully there will be a subdued atmosphere once we arrive.  Anyway, a few days to go until we reach Fremantle.  Back to sailing.  We need to push for another podium finish.

It’s Thursday morning – day 21 with light winds all night and we managed at least an average six knots per hour.  The wind has varied as we cross the wind hole and we have hoisted our code two spinnaker. Hopefully the wind will fill and our speed will increase us to a speedier finish time.

The last 24 hours have been uneventful, and talk is still on the tragic death of Simon.

It’s 9am and I am now off to bed. I feel exhausted.  Hopefully only a few more days to go now.

It’s Friday afternoon, the wind is still light and shifty, and progress is slow.  We are now in sixth place.  Not sure when we will arrive in port. The sun is out and it is very hot.

The itinerary has been sent from Clipper Head Office for next week.  We have a busy schedule so only one day off which is very disappointing. Everybody on board is very disappointed, tired and fed up, me included.  No mention of a feedback session about the tragic events around this leg. I have spoken to our Skipper about this and he is in full agreement and will pass my comments.

I have just been in the Nav Room to check plotter.  We still have 309 miles to go. We are averaging six knots an hour, so if the wind does not fill in there’s a long way to go. I’m off to my bunk.

It’s Saturday morning and the wind has risen. ETA 12 midnight tonight.  Everybody is emotionally and physically exhausted. I have climbed into my bunk for my six-hour off watch.  I’ve eaten breakfast already, the usual hot porridge, homemade bread and marmalade . . . I’m longing for a cooked breakfast.

I have spoken to my Watch that we need to dig deep over the next 18 hours and not let things slip. As I expected they responded positively.

This for me has been a leg of personal fulfilment. I had always wanted to sail the Southern Ocean and now have almost completed that challenge and as Watch Leader as well.  We have sailed in 74 knot winds sailed closed hauled in 40 knot winds for over seven days, surfed 30-foot waves, managed the freezing cold as we sailed 45 degrees latitude close to iceberg strewn waters. I have seen whales, dolphins, sharks and sun fish and all types of birds which I still do not understand how they survive out here.

I feel very content and proud to have completed this crossing but with some sadness that we lost a fellow colleague to the sea and the complete loss of one of our boats.

Questions still need to be answered and reassurances given about the ongoing safety issues but hopefully I will be on the next leg to Sydney.”

Sent from my iPad

 

 

The Carl Palmer Clipper Diaries

Chapter 2

Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . . Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . . Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . .

October 2017

“The last day on Punta del Este was a quiet day, with an early evening as start day was to be early.

With forty knot winds forecasted, the start date was going to be hairy.

The sendoff from the locals was fantastic! With the brass bands playing there was much pomp and ceremony.

Each boat left the harbour one by one with their own team’s tune playing.

At the start of the race the fleet was hit by a fifty-knot squall.  Our boat, DARE TO LEAD, was carrying too much sail and found it difficult to make the first buoy up river, in the river plate where the great second world war naval standoff took place.

We rounded the mark second to last but soon made up ground as we were carrying a lot more sail.

The south Atlantic is living up to its tale with strong winds and high seas.

All the new loggers are down with sea sickness which puts a considerable amount of pressure on other crew members.

I forgot to mention, I have been made Assistant Watch Leader for Starboard Watch.

I’m trying to whip them into shape.  This should be interesting.

Day three – in bed feeling the damp. Everything I have on board is damp, with no way of drying it out. I have sneaked my boots into the engine room. Slightly warmer than elsewhere because of the generator.

Straight into Watch Leader, as my immediate is sick, along with three others on my watch, so down to five.  This is going to be a busy four hours on shift.

There were strong winds throughout our shift.

We have just heard that one of our competitors has been hit by a whale and has serious rudder damage.

I only thought that happened in films!  The good news is, we’re in first place and stretching our lead! Let’s see what the next shift brings; there is never a tomorrow . . . it’s only when your next shift begins!

Into day three. As I have said before, all days mingle into one.  There never seems to be a next day, just another watch!

A fantastic thunderstorm hit us. I have never seen lightening like that.

The storm was accompanied by strong winds gusting to forty knots and heavy rain.

The spinnaker had to be dropped immediately as the wind had swung us into full circle. New sail plan hoisted, all in half an hour. I was wet through and exhausted.

The last few days have been for me the most enjoyable yet, with strong winds gusting between 25 and 30 knots. Real champagne sailing and I’ve been helming most of the time.

Today I am on Mother Watch, preparing meals and generally providing tea and coffee for the crew.

It has turned very cold outside and the wind has dropped to around ten knots. We have dropped back to third place, but Skipper is not too concerned as the course we are taking will keep us clear of the high pressure building up; that will mean no wind for the rest of the leading boats.

Mother Watch finished at ten tonight after I cleaned the last dishes. I have been in the Galley since six this morning!  I will be on duty again in two hours so better get some rest now.

No wind all night. We’re stuck in a wind hole waiting for the predicted strong wind to arrive. It’s bitterly cold outside but this is the furthest south we go before we head up to Cape Town, South Africa.

The wind has started to increase. I have been off watch all afternoon getting some well-earned rest. I’ve been asleep for most of it too, and now about to have a wet wipe wash. Clean my teeth, clean underwear . . . you got it, a general clean up.  The next week is forecasted strong winds so not a great opportunity for personnel grooming!!!!

Looking forward to a bumpy ride!!!!!

Tuesday morning 10th October and we have nearly completed 8000 nautical miles. More than most sailors achieve in a life time!

I have just finished the 4am to 8am watch. The wind increased during the watch to fifteen knots. I helmed for two and a half hours and feel tired as you really must concentrate to keep the boat moving as quickly as possible.

It’s now Wednesday afternoon.  I’ve finished the morning watch (8am to 2pm) and am now in my bunk having just eaten chicken soup for lunch.

The wind has increased to 25 knots, gusting 35 and we are moving along at 15 knots of speeds down the back of 4 metre high waves.  We are now reaching in excess of 20 knots!

I am soaked through and have now run out of dry clothes.

I am hanging wet gear from my bunk. It resembles a Chinese laundry! But not drying!!!!!

Going to try and catch up on some sleep before going back on watch at eight.

It’s Thursday morning and I’ve finished the 4 to 8 watch. It’s wet, cold and everybody seems fed up.

I achieved my personnel best boat speed of 26.2 knots in rough conditions of 4 to 5 metre waves and I loved it!!!

What I don’t like is not being able to get dry afterwards.

The last 24 hours have been the best and worst of my life, with strong winds reaching gale force driving rain, and feeling frozen and wet through; but the sailing will be something I will never forget. It was awesome!!

It’s Saturday today and last night we blew and ripped our code three spinnaker, the smaller of our three. A 40 knot squall just wiped us out and blew them to several bits of sail cloth. A job for the sailmaker in Cape Town.

We have been in second place for last 24 hours, but I think we may have dropped back to third place.

The next boat is some 50 miles behind us with Cape Town around five days away.

Spirits are rising, the sun is shining, and the wind has moderated.

Sunday morning and I’m on watch. Watch Leader today again, and have been chatting with our media lady “Danny” who is on board and making a film for Sky about the Round the World yacht race.

We have regained first place and are pressing the boat hard to get maximum speed.

The wind has increased again today to 25 knots, and with the sun shining, it’s perfect sailing conditions.

ETA for Cape Town is some time Wednesday afternoon. My fiancé arrives in the morning that day so she will be in port to greet me and the boat . . . I can’t wait.

Living with 20 people on board is challenging for all of us but morale amongst the crew is high.  It’s four o’clock so I’m now going to grab some sleep before supper and the evening watch.

Monday morning 8.30am.  I am in my bunk. The wind is easing but it’s still very difficult to type. We are 600 miles from the Finish. There are roughly two days of sailing left.

Everybody is exhausted, and we have been discussing our tactics for the last few days of this leg.

We are second place going into the final day hopefully.  We can see the first boat Greenings a few miles ahead and are chasing hard.

This will be a close finish with only 125 miles to go.  ETA: ship’s time 6pm local time, 8pm in Cape Town.

The wind is building, and I have been helming most of the morning.  Off watch now but should be back on watch at 2pm.  Hopefully ready for the Finish . . .”

 

 

The Carl Palmer Clipper Diaries

Chapter 1

Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . . Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . . Sail, Eat, Sleep, Repeat . . . . .

September 2017

At last start day is here, 20th August at 12.30 departing from Albert Docks, Liverpool I joined the boat 10 days before for pre-boat preparation and delivery to Liverpool.

Start day dawned; the exit from the docks was amazing. The crowds massed along the River Mersey banks cheering each boat as they departed.

Our boat Dare To Lead started well and was second around the first mark. We managed to sneak into first place, a position we held until we reached the mouth of the river entering the Irish Sea.

The next few days proved very frustrating.  With very light winds it took us nearly three days to sail down the coast and escape the clutches of the Irish Sea. About four boats managed to enter the Atlantic sea on a flowing tide with us, and we were soon to be heading the pack south to the Bay of Biscay. Spirits were high and the crew seemed to be forming reasonably well. 

Crossing the Bay was slow and tedious and before long we hit a wind hole where we remained becalmed for over 24 hours only to watch a large number of boats pass us to the west in strong winds. We were all suitably deflated!

The wind filled the sails and the race was on again!  We are now back in the top half of the fleet – the winds remain light . . . progress was slow. We are off the coast of Africa 150 miles away from Madeira in 12 knots of wind. Our next big decision to make will be which way do we leave the Canary Islands? Took a big gamble . . . can be going inshore, but I think we are going to remain to the outside in open water . . .  anyway a decision for a bit later.

Disaster struck today our water maker has broken, skipper and a group of us are coming up with ideas to fix it. It’s a bit like the film ‘Apollo 13!’ At last, version seven of our fix has worked and we are now making water.  The water tanks have been refilled hopefully no more problems going forward.

During the night we made good progress— my watch was on 8 to 12 and 4 to 8. I have now grabbed 4 hours sleep during the night. We were averaging 12 knots per hour, equivalent to 240 miles per day. The Canaries are looming and we have decided to leave the Canaries to the East and continue in the north-east trade winds. We are currently lying third in the fleet but much further east so we are in a commanding position.

The sun is shining and we are surfing at 15 knots . . . real champagne sailing – about to have lunch – cheese macaroni!!!!!! Can’t believe its 10 days in already. Every day to me seems to roll into one!

The last 24 hours have been very eventful. A torn spinnaker from our opposite watch, and a broken steering wheel on our watch, in very heavy winds when I was helming.

We are 24 hours from the Canary Islands and will be making our decision soon as to which way we pass them and then a week later we hit the doldrums where I hope I will have more time to detail my great adventure.  Its’ 2.00pm, and  I am off to bed!!!

Standings in the fleet are changing constantly and we are now in 8th place as we approach Cape Verde, and leave that to the east, as we did the Canary Islands.

Today I feel refreshed with nearly 8oo miles to go to the doldrums. Spirits are high as we surf in 15 knots of wind under blue skies. Flying fish are plentiful and often land on the boat. I am told they are edible but a little bit bony; about to have lunch before I go on shift for the afternoon.

Progress slow and tempers frayed as the heat taking its toll. It’s only set to get hotter as we near the doldrums in three days’ time.

I feel very low today and have been thinking about the loved ones I have left at home… wondering what my fiancé is doing, whether my son Harry has passed his driving test or has made First Team Rugby Captain, and what progress my Mum and Dad have made on their new house.  Got to pull myself together, as only another two and half weeks then I can speak to my loved ones.

Have passed Cape Verde islands and soon will be reaching the doldrums where we can motor with the engine for 60 hours. It’s very hot today and as a treat will be having a salt water shower at the end of the boat, sorry, stern!!!!

Still haven’t reached the doldrums should be there today around 10.00p.m. Another day, much the same as yesterday . . . Sea, Sea and more Sea . . . haven’t seen another ship or land for several days!

On a brighter note we are chasing hard and have several boats on the radar; all being well should pass them before the doldrums start which should put us back into sixth place.

Finally reached the doldrums at 4.00pm, Tuesday 5th September in 15 knots of wind, doing a speed of 12 knots. No sooner had we arrived the wind died, it was like a light being turned off.

Discussion took place with the Skipper and several of the crew, including myself, and we decided to notify the head race office of our intention to use our engine for 60 hours about 2.5 half days to try and put us unto some wind. This we did and we are motoring away across the doldrums, which stretches for around 700 miles.

We are about half way through this leg, the heat is intense and tempers are frayed, however I am coping very well and have adapted to life onboard a 70-foot boat with twenty people on board.

Today we have an emergency on board. A crew member’s leg has swollen up and they have had to return to the Cape Verde islands for treatment – this highlights how isolated we are here in the middle of the Atlantic.

Another 18 hours of motoring boredom has set in with the crew but several of us are trying to keep spirits high and keep the demons at bay.

I have just woken from four hours sleep and feel hot and sticky – time for a salt water bath I think. I am on watch at 8.00 when we start sailing again.  We are about two weeks from our destination in Punta del Este. Hopefully we will pick up the strong south easterly trade winds to take us down the Brazilian coastline.

Missing my loved ones a lot today. These down times are worst for having time to think . . . must keep myself busy this afternoon. Lunch shortly or is it breakfast!!!! I am officially fed up with tuna and looking forward to a cold beer and a large steak and chips when we reach port.

Stopped motoring this morning and to 15 to 20 knots of breeze our plan had worked and we have two days of sailing to exit the doldrums corridor gate. It’s all up wind and all the crew are getting used to life at a 45 degree angle. Unfortunately, this is having its toll on several of our crew who have had, and still have sea sickness. Skipper has administered sea injections and in two cases saline drips due to the heat and dehydration!

120 miles left until the exit gate where we can bear off and head for the Brazilian coast.

I am finding this challenge at times extremely exhilarating and I am learning to be more tolerant of others, not a strength of mine before I started this journey!

We are in fourth place now and hope to challenge those boats in front later in the race.  We have them in our sights and we are ready to pounce!

We have passed the equator which was another milestone and are now in heavy winds with squalls of up to 35 knots. Sleeping is impossible and we now have another medical emergency as one of our sea sick crew has breathing difficulties, high blood pressure and a very high heart rate. We are attempting a helicopter rescue and are liaising with medics. All external communications have now been shut down. We are 350 miles from shore and not too sure if that is in helicopter range. This demonstrates how vulnerable we are all out here in the event of a medical emergency.

 

Monday afternoon we are proceeding forth with a small group of islands off the Brazilian coast to rendezvous with the helicopter about 240 miles away. More drama during the night a female member of the crew fell on deck whilst the boat was heeled at 45 degrees and sustained facial injuries requiring stickers!!!! We dropped the injured patient off at Island del Fernando del Verona and was met by Brazilian patrol boat and crew. The member has now made a quick recovery and has been discharged from hospital.

The last three days have been a nightmare, bearing to windward in 25 knots of breeze is not a lot of fun even going to bed is a mammoth task.  We have had to do this because of the diversion we took and we are bearing out to sea to avoid the Brazilian peninsular, where we bear off from the wind and life will become more bearable.

Received an email through boats communication system from my fiancé – really lifted my spirits and can’t wait to speak to her from port.  Anyway, the wind’s picking up – what’s that – all hands called to deck . . . what’s happened now?

Another hard 36 hours with no time to write. It’s Friday 15th September, wind has eased a bit and I have managed to grab a few hours’ sleep. The weekend, from a sailing point of view will be critical in our overall fleet position.

Have been discussing our situation with Skipper and we have agreed fifth place would be a good finish, given we had to divert for a medical emergency. 

We are hoping for more wind to fill in from the rear of the fleet, so we can take full advantage and press on ahead . . . let’s see what happens. Off for my afternoon shift, mainly helming. Most shifts are pretty hard work in these conditions. 

At last we have beard away, and have the wind behind us. With the kite up I have been helming great fun . . . six days to race finish if we press hard. Spirits are high and the temperature has cooled a bit but still very hot when trying to sleep when off shift. Can’t wait to reach port.

This has been the toughest test of my life but quite proud that I have nearly crossed the Atlantic and passed through the Equator.

Off to sleep now and to listen to my audio book: The Perfect Storm!!!!!!!!

It’s Monday afternoon 2.30; have finished a 6 hour shift and had ham sarnies for lunch. Now ready to catch up on sleep; back on at eight.

To sum up the last four weeks . . . sleep eat sail, eat sail sleep, sail sleep eat.

ETA for Punta del Este is Thursday evening, UK time 5.00pm, local time midday, providing wind holds no breakages. Can’t wait . . . weather today wet and windy been helming most of my shift. Feel exhausted, so going to crash out.

Day 31 wind died during the night. Slow progress this morning; hot and humid and light winds. Slow progress and our reported position is seventh. We’d reckon we could make a third-place finish. Only 300 miles to go eta early hours of Friday morning now, due to light winds.

Last 24 hours of hard sailing we finally finished in the middle of the night in a respectful fifth place. A few hardy souls were there to greet us on the pier.

At last firm ground!!!!!”

Sent from my iPad

 

Update from London’s Air Ambulance:

25th August

Click here to read London’s Air Ambulance News Article “Businessman sails around the world for our charity”

London’s Air Ambulance

 

Update from London’s Air Ambulance:

10th August 2017

 

Update from Carl:

3rd July 2017

Click here for Carl Palmer’s JUST GIVING page – donate NOW!

 

Update from Carl:

22nd May 2017

Delighted to announce that I will be departing from Liverpool in August as part of Team Rick. Click here for more on my team at the Clipper website

It’s great that I can now start getting to know my teammates who I will be spending a lot of time with, and depending on (as well as them on me!) for a successful trip.

Race Start day is set for Sunday, 20 August 2017, and thousands of people are expected to descend on the historic Albert Dock to wave farewell to family and friends. I know it’s a bit of a journey for many, but you are all more than welcome to come up and celebrate my send off with me. Why not take in some of the wonderful City of Liverpool, the Tate Gallery at Albert Dock and who doesn’t love a Beatles Tour?

I’ll be having some catch up sessions with my crew before we depart so I’ll do my best to report back to you all on how I get on with my new teammates.

 

Click here for Carl Palmer’s JUST GIVING page – donate NOW!

Update from Carl:

3rd April 2017 (scroll down for my blog below the image carousel)

I’ve just completed my level three training course, which was brilliant! The Met Office forecasted strong winds, occasionally gale force eight so a bumpy ride was ahead of us for the week we were about to undertake on the English Channel.

Click here for Carl Palmer’s JUST GIVING page – donate NOW!

 

Update from Carl:

31st January 2017

PHEW!!!… This year all Clipper 70s will be supplied with AIS Beacons as part of the boat’s standard issue safety equipment on board.

“I am very reassured by this announcement. It means that in the event of a Man Overboard incident (yes, my biggest fear for my trip!), it will be easier to find and track the individual in that cold, cold water. Brrrr.

The Clipper News also announced some very exciting new race features which should make the race even more fun and competitive. Examples include the Joker feature, which, when played, allows the team to double their points from that race. The Ocean Sprint feature rewards teams for pushing hard between two lines of longitude and latitude with additional bonus points, and the Stealth mode, which is a bit like donning an invisibility cloak so that our team’s position is concealed from the rest of the fleet and followers, although this can only be activated once or twice in a race.

I’m undertaking my healthy eating and fitness in earnest now in readiness for my next training stint in February – Check back for more updates soon.

I’m delighted to see my fundraising total on Just Giving creeping up steadily – If you haven’t already donated, please do here“:

Click here for Carl Palmer’s JUST GIVING page – donate NOW!

Update from Carl:

8th November, 2016

“We have raised £3,810 to date! I’m absolutely thrilled with this great start after contacting some of my nearest and dearest for some initial support to kick off my fundraising campaign. Every penny raised will go to the London Air Ambulance Charity which is so close to my heart. I’m starting to get really excited about the trip and I will have more training soon so I’ll keep you all updated on that. In the mean time, here is some information on where your donations go, which shows how important all of your support is for saving lives in London:

£1,600 is what is needed to get the helicopter and crew out on a mission, and the LAA only get called to the most serious of incidents, real life and death situations.

Can you spare this amount of cash? It is a lot of money to many and not such a big deal to some, but you will be giving a gift worth a lot more than a meal in a top London restaurant, and which is a million times better than a diamond encrusted watch. Here are some other example of costs you might be interested in helping with:

£105 – would cover the cost of a pair of boots for a Paramedic with safety toe caps and anti-penetration sole, helping to keep the crew safe from injury during a mission

£400 – could buy a Thomas Pack, which carries all the equipment and drugs needed by the London’s Air Ambulance Advanced Trauma Team

£3500 – would help buy several trips worth of Helicopter Fuel, which is vital for getting into the air!

We never know what is around the corner. If we ever need the LAA, they can be there for us only by raising £1,500 for each mission from the public. This charity is completely reliant on the generosity of people like you. We are grateful for anything you can give.

Thanks you again to those who have already given their support”

Click here for Carl Palmer’s JUST GIVING page – donate NOW!

Why the Clipper Race?

“After building up my security business to a point of relative self-sufficiency, I found headspace ready to be occupied with a new challenge.

Originally, I applied to take on two legs of the Clipper Round the World Race before realising I couldn’t walk away, I needed to do the whole race to avoid the dreaded “fear of missing out”.

My sailing experience isn’t vast, but I did do some dingy boat sailing in my youth reaching national and international levels of competition. The Clipper training has been a whole new experience. Everything is so much bigger and more serious on a 70ft sailing boat. The crew is a huge part of the experience too and I have already met some fascinating people while training.

My greatest challenge will be, I think, getting along with all of the other different personalities on board. My greatest fear, I know, is falling overboard!”

Carl is using his trip to raise funds and awareness for London’s Air Ambulance.

Every time that red helicopter goes out to save a life, £1,500 is needed to cover costs. Can you fund the cost of a flight or maybe a contribution to the petrol? Click the above link to donate using my Just Giving Page.

Training Update: Here are some snaps from my first training session. I can’t wait to get back on a Clipper boat again!

Photo credits to Artemis Petridi

 

 

Carl Palmer Executive Chairman of CIS Security is embarking on a 10 month Clipper sailing boat race to raise funds for London’s Air Ambulance:

In August 2017 I’m embarking on the adventure of my life. I’m sailing 40,000 miles – circumnavigating the planet – as a crew member on one of Clipper’s 70-foot yachts. As well as being the race of a lifetime, it is an opportunity for me to raise funds and awareness for London’s Air Ambulance, a charity which delivers an advanced trauma team to critically injured people in London, serving the 10 million people who live, work and travel within the M25.

My blog’s designed to provide you with insights from my race – before, during, and after. I am funding the trip myself, but will be running a number of events you can get involved with to raise funds for the London’s Air Ambulance.

Every time that red helicopter goes out to save a life, £1,500 is needed to cover costs. Can you fund the cost of a flight or maybe a contribution to the petrol? Click below to donate using my Just Giving Page

Click here for Carl Palmer’s JUST GIVING page – donate NOW!