Monday was a significant day in my preparations for the Clipper Race. It meant that there were just two months to go until the race gets underway from Tower Bridge on September 1st. And as Clipper has organised plenty of things for crewmembers to do in August, it means I really only have July to ensure I have everything I need to survive eleven months of travelling.
Unfortunately, we are in a race and the Clipper boats will be slowed down if we have too much weight on board. So each crew member is only allowed to bring 20kg of personal kit – no heavy suitcases allowed here…!
Cotton clothing is out as it doesn’t dry very quickly. Thick sailing boots and a very large sleeping bag are in (though the sleeping bag weighs about 4kg on its own). I’ve bought a collection of dry bags which are made of thick, waterproof plastic to store my clothing on the boat. They are all different colours as it will save a lot of time if I can quickly identify which bag I want. As I learned on my last training course, you can waste a lot of time hunting for a clean pair of socks during the night with only a torch to help you.
Plus I’ve got a warm jacket and several fleeces to avoid hypothermia while on watch in the East China Sea. As my skipper Vicky said, you’ve got to respect Mother Nature.
It’s not just the crew who are frantically planning – the race organisers are also trying to lock down the final details. Last week, we got the news that the city of Recife in Brazil had decided to pull out of hosting part of the race. Instead, we will be heading for Rio de Janeiro instead where the boats will stay at the marina which will be used for the 2016 Olympics. Most of the crews seemed to welcome that news - it means I may be able to take in a football match at Rio’s famous Maracana Stadium.
The other thing that happened on Monday was that the name of our boat was officially revealed. She will be called ‘Switzerland’ because we are being sponsored by Swiss Sailing. Lots of jokes about us getting free chocolate have been flying about. But it's helped us choose the colours for our team uniform – expect red or white to be in the design somewhere.
Training steps up over the next fortnight - I have a weather course and a media course coming up, followed by six days and nights at sea, getting to know our new boat. I hope someone brings chocolate!