I am wearing 23 separate items of clothing. That includes four socks, two waterproof boots, several layers of thermal clothing, gloves, thick rubber-lined foul weather gear and a life jacket. That's what you need to live on a boat in the chilly Southern Ocean.
The foul weather gear is particularly good at protecting me. It takes me about five minutes to get it on as it's so stiff and heavy. But I have been sitting on deck when a big wave hit me from behind knocking me to the floor - yet not a drop of water made it through to my clothes underneath. And the foul weather gear stopped me from getting any bruises in the fall.
The Southern Ocean is a pretty desolate place, full of rolling waves and howling winds. Yet our boat is always followed by a flock of birds, including the odd albatross, who circle around us constantly.
When the wind picks up, it makes the boat a tricky place to be - the sailing motto "One hand for yourself and one for the boat" is particularly useful here. We are reminded to always hang on to something with one hand when we are doing a job, just in case a wave sends the boat rocking and us flying.
On deck, we have safety lines which are clipped between our life jackets and various strong points. If a giant wave did hit, they would stop us being knocked too far. On the other hand, the safety lines are a giant nuisance - mine always gets wrapped around my legs or gets stuck as I try to walk. But I don't dare unclip it - just in case a big wave is around the corner.
The Southern Ocean is a slightly scary, slightly unnerving place. I'm looking forward to the day when our boat is heading north and we start approaching the sunny skies off Australia.